From Contrast to Clarity – Applying the Law of Attraction to Global Trauma

This article was originally written and posted in the weeks following the attacks of 9/11/01. I have updated it and included new information about how the Law of Attraction addresses global tragedy.

“The world is changed.  I feel it in the water.  I feel it in the Earth.  I smell it in the air.”

Thus spoke Galadriel at the opening of the film version of Lord of the Rings.  J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his classic fantasy trilogy during World War Two when the world was indeed changing.  The world is changing now.  Many of us feel the change in the Water, the Earth and the Air.  But many of us also feel the change in our hearts and minds and in our very bones.

Events on a global scale often seem out of our control.  It appears that decisions made by a few can affect vast numbers of people and have long-lasting consequences for us all.  When the decisions seem benevolent and harmonious, it is easy to go about the daily tasks of our lives.  However, when the tone of world events turns dark, and the reasons for certain choices made in our name seem murky and unclear, feelings of helplessness softly sneak up from the shadows and begin to infuse our daily life with doubt.

Contrary to everything we have been taught about the world and most of what we feel in moments of personal and planetary chaos, we are never helpless. No one controls our experience without our implicit allowing. We are the Deliberate Creators of our lives. When it feels as if the world around us is falling apart or dangerously encroaching upon our own private world, it can be very difficult to remember that we are in control of our life experience.

The Global Connection

One of the most dramatic changes in this modern world is our instant access to information.  Sitting at our computer or watching TV, we look into the terrified eyes of a little girl in Baghdad.  Indigenous tribes of South American communicate with the international community, raising awareness of humanitarian and environmental concerns in their world.  It becomes increasingly clear that we are all connected.

The electronic threads of radio, television and the Internet also tweak our sensitivity to another, subtle connection that binds us together: We are all connected through an invisible, energetic force which Fritjof Capra and others have called the Web of Life.

In the original Star Wars, when Darth Vader’s Death Star obliterated a planet, Obi Wan Kenobi, in a starship far away, stumbled and sat down. “I feel a great disturbance in the force,” he said, feeling the connection viscerally. Most of us feel the force in more subtle ways, if at all. But the connection is there and feel it we do. The emotional reaction when global trauma occurs, spreads through the Web of Life like fire through a forest full of dead Oaks. Grief, anger and despair jumps from one “tree” to another feeding on itself until all the fuel is spent.  In this case, of course, we are the fuel.

Contrast is Good

If you have been studying the Law of Attraction for any length of time, you understand, conceptually, that contrast is good even though you may still have some trouble acting on that knowledge. Events that trigger negative feelings – anger, grief, helplessness, resentment, etc. – are positive because they accentuate the contrast in our life and provide us with an opportunity to clarify what we want.

On an individual level these events can include things like bouncing a check or getting a parking ticket or arguing with a loved one. All of these events point to some unwanted aspect of our lives, thereby giving us the opportunity to create something different. These events show us what we don’t want so that we can become clear about what we do want.

On a global level, events that awaken us to the contrast include wars, terrorism, drugs, gangs, famine, etc. We watch events such as these unfold – most of us from the outside – and think, “I don’t like that. I don’t want that to be in this world.” And that awareness is a wonderful first step. Observing the contrast has helped us become clear about what we do not want.

The problem is that very few of us move to the next step: Clarifying, and focusing upon, what we do want. If you don’t want war, what do you want? Peace? Well then focus on peace. The Law of Attraction is extremely clear: You cannot change events by focusing on what is.

By focusing on war, even in the pursuit of ending it, you are contributing to its continuing presence in our world. Your focus on ending war adds energetic fuel to the concept of war thus perpetuating it.

Mother Theresa was once asked why she never participated in anti-war demonstrations. She replied, “I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” She clearly understood the power of intention and attention. She recognized that an anti-war demonstration with hundreds or thousands of people focusing their energy on ending the war would still be focused on the war. And that focused energy would contribute to the continuation of the war.

Focus instead on peace. Focus on what you do want. Be Grateful for the Contrast

One of the most difficult tasks for those of us actively studying and implementing the Law of Attraction in our lives is being grateful for the contrast: Thanking a police officer for giving you a traffic ticket, thanking the bank for charging you an overdraft fee, thanking your spouse for triggering your anger. It can be a struggle to find gratitude for and acceptance of such events. You may ask why we should we be grateful for such things? The answer is clear: These events open a doorway to our ever-expanding desires. And that is the ultimate purpose of contrast.

It is the bounced check that awakens in us a desire to more skillfully manage our money. It is the traffic ticket that awakens us to the desire to be more present and aware while we are driving. It is our partner or parent or child triggering us that awakens a desire for more loving, open, intimate relationships.

Global events that point out the contrast in our physical environment deserve the same gratitude. However, when we are witnessing hundreds or thousands of people in the midst of trauma, it can be even more difficult to feel grateful for this contrast. And yet, there is no difference between the events in our personal life and those that affect the global community. The only difference is in scale.

Our job then, as deliberate creators, is to focus on the desire that has been awakened because of the contrast. Whether it is a personal desire for better bookkeeping, or a global desire for more peace, focusing on the feelings inherent within that new desire will bring about its creation.

What does it feel like to be a skillful money manager? How does it feel to know that your accounts are balanced each month? Hold onto that feeling, even, and especially, when you bounce a check. If you tenaciously and excitedly offer that new, positive vibration to the Universe, the Universe will have no choice but to line up events and circumstances in the physical world that match your offering.

The same is true with global events. What does peace feel like? How would it feel to know that everyone in the world has access to adequate food and shelter? How does it feel to imagine a world in which the earth and air and water around us are recognized as and treated like the valuable resources they are?

When you focus on the positive feelings associated with the new desire that has been awakened through contrast, you empower the manifestation of events that will reflect your positive feelings.

What Should I Do With This Grief and Anger?

But what about the negative emotions? What should we do when they arise? When traumatic events occur powerful emotions can and do arise. If you are personally affected by the event, either through an injury or the loss of a loved one or the loss or damage of your possessions, anger, despair, grief and sorrow naturally occur.

A common response is to direct your negative emotions at those who “caused” the trauma. If the trauma was caused by other humans: war, terrorist attacks, etc., it can be easy to find a target for your negative emotions. You see this all the time in photographs and videos from war-torn areas where residents gather to express their hatred for those they feel are the cause of their pain. If the trauma is a “natural” disaster, such as an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane, it can be more difficult to find someone to blame. Although, as we saw with the rampant finger pointing after hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, it is always possible to find someone to blame.

While blame and finger pointing may bring a temporary sense of relief from the anger and frustration, they never lead to a positive solution. The negative energy remains and serves to attract a continuation of the degraded conditions. There is a Native American saying, “Whenever you point a finger at someone else, there are always three fingers pointing back at you.”

Instead of pointing the finger, see if you can allow and accept the presence of powerful emotions. Feel them. Experience them. If you have lost a loved one, allow yourself to fully experience the grief and sorrow at their loss. Do not attempt to deny it or suppress it. Be present with it.

Emotions are never negative on their own. They become negative when we label them as negative and attempt to deny them. When we do not allow ourselves to express heavy emotions those emotions go into hiding within us and become a constant, shadowy companion, influencing our life in subtle but powerful ways. It is much better to take the time and space to be present with the grief, anger, sorrow, etc., and allow these emotions to be released through our presence.

The Butterfly Effect

Often our feelings of helplessness come from a sense that there is nothing we can do. The actions that we can take as individuals seem insignificant when we are confronted with global disasters. But while our phyiscal actions are important, far more important are the actions we take to ensure that our vibrational offering is aligned with an image of relief for the affected areas. If we hold an image of relief and get ourselves into vibrational alignment with that image, will someone on the opposite side of the Earth “feel” it?  I believe they will, though it’s probably impossible to measure scientifically. At least at this point in our scientific resources. What is certain is that our life has an effect that reaches far beyond what we can see with our eyes.

The most powerful supercomputers available to the highest level scientists and researchers cannot predict the weather accurately because the flapping of one butterfly’s wings in Japan sends an ever-expanding ripple out into the world. This has come to be known as the butterfly effect.

What unknown shores will the ripples of our flapping wings reach? We cannot know, and so we must be content to focus on the world around us, the world we can see, feel, hear and touch. We must open our eyes to the effects our words and actions have upon the people and places with whom we interact on a daily basis.

And we must be content to focus upon our own well-being and take the steps needed to hold onto hope.  The first step is often the most difficult. But the light from each of us is desperately needed in this world.  And I believe that with each baby step we take out of the darkness of helplessness and despair, hope takes 100 bounding strides towards us!

The Daily Program

While there are no quick fixes for feelings of helplessness, especially in times of global trauma and uncertainty, there are specific steps you can take to help yourself stay connected, or reconnect with a sense of hope. Each of these suggestions can be an effective way to pull yourself out of the darkness of despair or to ensure that you remain connected to hope and joy.  Use one of them.  Use all of them.  Combine them.  Create your own.  The important thing is to make a conscious effort to reconnect and stay connected with your sense of hope even when others around you are not.

While these suggestions were originally written in response to a global crisis, they are equally effective at alleviating negative feelings that arise from personal trauma.

Breathe

We rarely have to think about the air we breathe.  Because of that it’s easy to take our breath for granted.  Taking short periods throughout the day — even just 30 seconds — to focus attention on your breath is an effective way to reconnect with yourself and with the present moment.

Turn off the TV

In this age of instant access to international events, information overload is a very real concern.  The Internet, TV, radio and newspapers all offer more information than we need.  For many of us this information orgy has a magnetic pull especially during times of crisis.  When you begin to feel this pull you can take actions to counteract its effects. Give yourself a time limit for TV viewing or web surfing.  If you are stuck in traffic, listening to news or a talk show, turn off the radio or switch to a music station.  If you are a diehard information junkie, determine a daily maximum “information retrieval period,” such as 15-minutes or 1-hour and set an alarm to go off when your time is up.

Each week, give yourself a day off from the World, as difficult as it may be in our “need to know” culture.  At least one day each week, tune out the events of far away places and tune in to your own inner world and your connections with the people and places around you.  Sometimes we can be so concerned with events on the other side of the globe that we neglect people and situations in our own world.

Connect with Nature

There is no despair or depression in nature.  A forest does not stop growing when a tree topples in a storm.  Even when entire swaths of forest are cut down, the other trees continue to grow.  Seeds continue to sprout.  There may well be sadness or grief in the forest, there is certainly an awareness of the loss, but growth continues.  Likewise, rivers continue to flow even when they are dammed or polluted. Most of Earth’s myriad elements (except perhaps humans!) know their purpose and how to remain focused upon it.  Through a connection with Nature we can learn this vital skill.  So spend time each day in Nature.  Watch a river flow by, take a walk on a nearby trail, or just find a friendly tree to sit beneath for a while.

Express Your Emotions

This can be a tough one – especially for men.  Our culture tends to demean emotional expression in general, and especially so-called “negative” emotions such as grief, and anger.

During times of global strife we tap into “collective” emotions that can amplify the intensity of our personal emotions.  Events and actions we would normally observe and absorb without strong reactions may begin to trigger anger, grief or other emotions.  We may feel betrayed when a friend calls to cancel a lunch date.  Rage may flare when a parent or a spouse offers advice we don’t like. One of the best ways to deal with emotions is to express them.  Being “strong” or holding emotions inside you suppresses them and ultimately gives them more power over you.  They will resurface sometime in the future through events, emotions and even physical ailments.

So go to the beach and wail, punch a pillow, watch a sad movie and let your tears flow.  Give voice to the inner turmoil you are experiencing so it does not start to rule your life.

Reach Out for Support

When the worries of the world are weighing you down and your personal concerns seem too much to hold, it is tempting to retreat into a place of isolation.  Our culture tends to glorify self-reliance.  We are taught as small children that sharing our problems with others is not OK. By reaching out you do not have to place a burden upon anyone else.  You are not “dumping” your stuff onto another.  Rather, you are looking for nurturing support: someone to listen to you.  There is too much for you to hold onto alone.  Just by speaking your concerns and problems you begin to diminish their power over you.

Accept and Appreciate the Contrast

As mentioned above, contrast provides us with the ability to know what we want. The more dramatically the contrast expresses itself, the more passion and power there is behind the new desire. When you experience contrast in your personal life, or witness it in the world around you, see if you can consciously offer gratitude to the contrast.

WriteWriting offers another outlet for your concerns.  When you see your problems on paper, you may discover they are not quite as large as you thought.  And if, in fact, they are large, seeing them in front of you can help you determine the best way to proceed.

You don’t need to worry about how or what you write.  Just write.  Get your troubles out of your system and onto paper.  If you still feel stuck after writing out your problems, you might try creating a ritual for yourself where you burn (safely!) the paper holding your problems.  Controlled fire is a great catalyst and this symbolic act of release can bring a wonderful sense of relief.

Nurture yourself

In our frenetic world it is far too easy to forget our own need for personal pleasure.  We forget about the simple things that nurture our body, mind and spirit.  Taking time each day to do something special for yourself is a wonderful way to counteract the influence of a world falling into darkness. Get a massage.  Take a bath.  Make love.  Read a good book.  Listen to soothing music.  Give yourself a gift of pleasure each day.  You are worth it!

Exercise

Exercise is an important component of any hope revival program. Exercise helps your body release toxins that accumulate from unexpressed emotions, pollution, processed foods and other unavoidable elements of our modern world. Vigorous, anaerobic exercise is especially effective at helping to move anger, resentment and frustration out of your space. If exercise is not yet a part of your daily self-care routine, make it a priority to spend time, even just fifteen minutes, walking, dancing, doing sit-ups, riding a bike, or anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping.

Eat WellDuring times of stress, eating well takes on added importance.  When you feel yourself beginning to spiral into a dark space try cutting down on alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and processed foods.  Try to avoid eating on the run whenever possible.  Even if your “lunch” is an energy bar, make an effort to sit down and enjoy it.  You can still finish your meal in five minutes, but take an extra thirty seconds to breathe and relax.  You might actually be able to taste that energy bar (for better or worse) if you are not wolfing as you rush to the next meeting.

Cooking yourself at least one delicious, healthy meal each day is a way of enhancing your nutrition while providing self-nurturing.  Even if you are alone, try creating a beautiful experience with flowers, candles, and nice music in the background.

Bring Hope to Others

It is said that by helping others achieve that which you desire, you attract that very thing to yourself.  So when you feel hope slipping away from you, find ways to bring hope to others.  Reach out to a friend in need.  Volunteer your time at a homeless shelter.  Write a letter to a prison inmate.  There are thousands of ways to bring hope to others.  This act will help you to naturally settle more easily and assuredly into a of hope.

Pray

Many of the issues that confront us, whether personal, familial, or societal, are too big to handle alone.  Prayer can be an effective way of mitigating the effects they have on our life. For some people the word “prayer” brings up images (perhaps negative) of churches and temples, rosaries and bad wine.  But prayer is really any act in which you consciously reach out to a being or force beyond your ability to fully comprehend.  In prayer there is no right or wrong.

One way to use prayer is to ask for assistance.  “God, I’m feeling a bit lost right now, I could really use some guidance,” is perfectly acceptable.  Source Energy and the Divine Beings that we call upon for support, love to help us.  In fact they are waiting to be called upon.  There is nothing wrong with taking them up on their offer. Prayer can also be used to send focused intention to people and places in need.  “Angels, please watch over the children of Iraq.  They did not ask for this war, but they are in it.  Please help to keep them safe.  And please take good care of those who do not live to see the end of this upheaval.  Thank you.”

Express Your Gratitude: Gratitude is another good element to add to your prayers.  Meister Eckhart, the 13th century Dominican scholar said, “If the only prayer you ever say is ‘thank you’ that will be enough.”  In times of deep turmoil, gratitude can feel like the farthest thing from your mind, but it can also bring deep healing and comfort.  “Divine Forces, I’m not feeling so great right now, but I do want to thank you for a few things.  I’m healthy, and I have a place to live, and the rain dripping off the leaves outside my window is beautiful.  Thank you for all of this!”

Or you could use this prayer of gratitude from Buddha: “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.