The Journey to Wholeness
Shakti Gawain has sold millions of books which explain how to improve our quality of lives. Her message is a simple one: we are here in these human bodies, on this earth, at this time, to learn certain lessons. But that doesn't necessarily mean we're all stuck in the School of Hard Knocks. By using simple techniques described in her books, we can learn to develop and to trust our own intuition and creativity and in so doing, minimize the trauma that often accompanies personal growth.Gawain has written Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, The Path of Transformation, and most recently, The Four Levels of Healing: A Guide to Balancing the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional & Physical Aspects of Life. Besides her work as an author, Gawain also travels the country giving workshops on creative visualization.NE: What distinguishes you from other New Age or self-help writers?Gawain: The feedback I've gotten is that my writing style is very simple and clear so that people of all walks of life can read it and understand it easily. You don't have to really work at it. The chapters are short. People can just get a piece of it and use it. Plus, most of the techniques I give usually are relatively simple.NE: For a reader unfamiliar with your writing, how would explain the technique you teach called creative visualization?Gawain: To tell you the truth, creative visualization is something we all do all the time, it's just that we do it unconsciously. For example, we worry, which is a form of negative visualization. It's important to learn how to focus and think about what you do want and imagine that happening. And that's really not much a hard thing to do. It's a technique that anyone can use.NE: How would you describe the difference between fantasy and creative visualization?Gawain: In a way, creative visualization is like taking your fantasies seriously. There is a reason why we have fantasies. If you look a little deeper into the fantasy and ask why it is important to you and what it is that you're really yearning for in your life, you'll start to learn more about yourself and what it is you really need. Sometimes by just being with your fantasies you realize that there's real truth in them, or, you might realize that there's actually something deeper that you need to look at in your life. Sometimes we get the thing we think we want, only to find out that that thing isn't really going to do what we though it was going to do for us. Then we have to look deeper. If you're willing to do your healing work and your consciousness work, I believe that you can have what your heart truly desires.NE: What attracts someone to doing inner work--to looking more toward the spiritual rather than the material aspect of life for answers and fulfillment?Gawain: I do believe that there is a shift in consciousness taking place in this earth where more and more people are looking for deeper meaning and purpose in their lives. Oftentimes that takes the form of having big problems: feeling lonely, empty, purposeless, having an addiction that takes over your life. Very often we get on the path of consciousness by going through a crisis or a terrible experience or by just beginning to feel very unfulfilled. Up until recent times, the huge majority of human beings had to be concerned with just staying alive. Now for the first time in our western industrialized culture people have the luxury of being able to look at the quality of life they have--this is when we begin to embark on the consciousness journey.NE: Does your new book, The Four Levels of Healing, have any recommendations on how to minimize the pain that might be a part of that journey?Gawain: Basically what I'm saying is that there are four levels of existence: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. We need to develop ourselves on all of these levels in order to feel fulfilled and in order to find balance and wholeness in our lives. My book gives people simple guidelines on how to do that. The more we learn to pay attention to the subtle messages we get and work with them and do our healing, the less life has to come along and clobber us to get our attention.NE: What will be the focus of your workshops?Gawain: I believe that every one of us, whether we know it or not, is on a journey of learning and development. That's what life is really all about. It's about how can we learn and grow and develop as much of our potential as possible. I see it as a very exciting adventure that we're all on. Every single thing that happens in our lives is part of that learning process -- even the things that are difficult and painful. My belief is that every one of those experiences that we go through can be a great gift if we know how to use it for our own growth and healing. A lot of what I do is to help people look at all the issues and challenges that are going on in our lives and learn how to use their circumstances as a healing and growing experience.NE: Can you be more specific about how you would help someone to use apparent adversity as a healing tool?Gawain: One of the most important things I try to do is to help people to really listen to their intuition. We all have an intuitive sense of what's right for us and what's true for us, but most of us have never been taught to trust that.NE: How do you know which is your intuitive voice and which is your rational/intellectual/ego voice?Gawain: That's the question. It turns out that we really have a lot of different voices of personalities inside us and each has its own function and is there for a reason. We have the rational part of us, the emotional part, the part that is super responsible, and the part that just wants to relax and have fun. A lot of times the conflict we feel in our lives is because different parts of us are in conflict with each other. Getting to know all the different parts and learning to distinguish them from each other is important. You can learn to distinguish the feeling of the intuitive voice. It feels different than say, your worried voice, or the part of you that is afraid. It's important to be able to differentiate between the voices because otherwise you don't know which one to follow. A big part of what most of us are struggling with is being out of balance -- like, for example, working too hard and never taking time to play, or being too emotional and in need of being more rational and so on.NE: How important are social or intimate relationships in helping to create balance?Gawain: A big part of my work is getting people to recognize that relationships are the best mirror that we've got; they are the best path of consciousness but we've got to learn to use them constructively because otherwise it's just so painful. We are attracted to people who have a lot of different qualities from the ones we've developed. For example, if one person is very rational and one is very intuitive or emotional those two people are likely to be drawn toward each other because deep down inside were all searching for other parts of ourselves. We want to feel whole and to feel like we're expressing all the different parts of ourselves -- that's the reason why opposites attract. You can use relationships as a wonderful reflection to keep showing you exactly the work that you need to do. This is true of every relationship in our lives not just romantic relationships. The deeper the relationship, the more powerful and intense the reflection.NE: Looking at relationships on a more global scale, do you think you'll see world peace in your lifetime?Gawain: I think the shift in consciousness is tremendous and I think that part of what is both reflecting and driving that shift is a growing awareness that how we are living on this planet isn't working. To me it's just the outer reflecting the inner -- we haven't really integrated the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical aspects of ourselves internally and that is reflected by the fact that we're not in harmony with one another and our environment. I don't know what the timeline for world peace is but I do see us on that road and gaining momentum all the time.Amy Sander is a writer for Northern Express in Traverse City, Michigan.