Start Right Where You Are
By Sam Bennett | Updated 11/24/16
I created the Start Right Where You Are workshop and this book so that you and I could talk more about the inner game of leading a creatively and spiritually fulfilling life.
I love offering material that is both functional and doable. My first book was called Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day, for Pete’s sake. I’m a practical person, and I really enjoy teaching about creative productivity.
But eventually I realized that I was leaving out a big, important chunk of information about being centered in yourself and connected to everything, which is what had enabled me to go from being broke and exhausted all the time to not-broke and not-exhausted all the time. It was time for me to start talking about the inner journey.
If you don’t believe that you can be creatively fulfilled, well, it doesn’t really matter what productivity tools I give you, does it? And if you’re not sure that it’s really okay for you to be calm and successful and loved no matter what, then no amount of helpful advice will change your patterns. So we need to start at the very beginning — at the very center of you — and work outward. We start with your soul.
This means that I will, in fact, be talking about God. And it’s not important to me whether or not you believe in God, or what you call God. I trust that you’re a sophisticated enough person that you can make whatever mental substitutions you need to make. I want to be clear: I’m not proselytizing. I don’t want to turn anyone off or freak anybody out. I know some of you have been really burned by the whole God thing, and I truly don’t care if you’re religious or spiritual or philosophical or none of the above. I’m not trying to position myself as any kind of spiritual leader or teacher. I’m just using the words God or the Net to signify that eternal thing that is bigger than us.
My partner, Luke, is a committed atheist. He’s done quite a bit of reading about the topic of God, and he tells me that what I mean when I talk about God is not what most people mean when they talk about God. So I’ll get into a little bit more of my definition of God later on, but for now, I want you to identify for yourself what word you like to use to describe the mystery of life.
You’ve felt that sense of mystery when you gaze at a sunset or at the mountains. Maybe you’ve felt it when you spend time with animals, or when you have been in the “flow,” physically or creatively. So you can call it Love or the Divine or Spirit or Source or Buttons the Clown if you want. I’m going to use God or the Net, because those words work for me, plus it’s less awkward than having to say, “that eternal, mysterious thing that is bigger than us” every time. (And really, if you want to go through this book and cross out the word God and replace it with an X or another word, I think that’s great. Do what works for you.)
Let me walk you through a two-minute exercise so you can experience what I mean by the Net, rather than discuss it further. Experience is much more important than theory.
You can find the free downloadable audio for this exercise at www.StartRightWhereYouAre.com on the bonus materials page (Meditation #2).
Start by shifting around in your seat a little bit. Just wiggle slightly or get up and turn around — something to signal to your body that we’re up to something different. And let’s go back to that image of your heartwood, the center of you, the core of you. Just feel that energy in the middle of you and feel it drop down into the earth and extend upward toward the sky.
Focus in on this heartwood core of you that’s now plugged into the living earth, that’s connected to the sky and the stars and the sun. Imagine that that beam glows — that it has a color, and an intensity. And visualize all the spokes radiating out from you like a dandelion puff, extending out, out, out, into infinity. The spokes glow, too.
And now imagine all the other people who are reading or praying or meditating right now. Imagine their center, and the glowing spokes emanating from them.
And now imagine everyone else — all the other people walking around, grocery shopping, napping, working — and see that they all have a lit-up center and spokes, too. Can you see how everyone’s spokes are crisscrossing? Together, we make a giant Net of energy. Imagine this giant Net. Can you see it in your mind? Can you see how your energy intersects with that person’s or that person’s or that person’s, all the way on the other side of the globe and off into unseen worlds? Can you feel it? There is energy constantly moving through this Net.
And now, imagine that all the other living things are also lit up and have spokes and are connected energetically with each other. All the animals, all the trees, the sea creatures, the plants, even the minerals in the earth are suffused with energy and are part of this Net.
Play around with the image of the Net a little bit. Can you feel how “it is the ocean and you are the wave”? Can you lean back into the Net and feel supported by it — by all of life? See if you can pull on the Net a little bit. Give it a tug and pull some of the energy of the Net into you. Do you feel it? Feel the energy of the Net come into your body. Feel your connectedness to all things. Can you imagine that as you connect with the Net, your inner radiance gets dialed up?
I love to imagine you, all lit up from within, connected to all the other lit-up elements of the Net. Some things you are connected to directly, and others may seem far away, but we are all part of one perfect whole.
Notice that no matter how brightly you shine, you don’t take anything away from the Net. The Net of energy is in constant motion, and it is all equally yours and not yours. This is how we know that nothing ever goes away, and nothing is ever wasted — because it is all part of the Net. The Net is an imagining of the first law of thermodynamics: energy can be converted from one form into another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. In other words, you can’t break the Net. You can’t destroy it. You can’t push it too hard. It is much, much bigger than you are. And still you are an essential part of it.
We are just one expression of this energy on this planet. The energy of the Net is eternal; it is the alpha and the omega. We are an expression of the Divine. We are cocreating reality with the Net. We are the hands and feet of God.
If you like, you may close the meditation now by breathing 4:7:8 a few times and bring yourself back to current time and space. Please keep the image of the Net in your mind, though, because we have more to explore.
You cannot be separate from this Net. You cannot be separate from this web of energy. The entire Net is your legacy: the gift that has been handed to you and that you, in turn, pass on. In other words, you cannot be separate from God. You may sometimes feel like you are, but that’s you doing that to you. And it’s as false as believing that the sun disappears when it’s raining. The sun is still there, above the clouds. The Net knows that you are never not a part of it.
Part of your work is to stop arguing with that divine energy that is trying to express itself through you. Stop believing that maybe it’s not right, or it’s not yours, or you’re too much this or you’re not enough that. You are everything. You are, literally, made of stardust. As Neil deGrasse Tyson said in the first episode of The Universe, “Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high-mass stars…We are all connected. To each other, biologically, to the earth, chemically, and to the rest of the universe, atomically…We are in the universe, and the universe is in us.”
Accept the energy. Plug into the energy of the cosmos. Let it heal you. Let it come through you to heal others. Let God express God’s self through you exactly as you are right now. This begins right now. And this has been happening the whole time. You’re just tapping into it with a bit more consciousness and deliberation.
You can see in your mind’s eye how the activity of this Net can defy logic, expectation, and conventional wisdom. If everything is interconnected, no wonder quantum leaps are possible. No wonder people and events can arrive in our lives suddenly and unannounced. And no wonder once-in-a-lifetime opportunities come around every single day.
In my heart of hearts, what I really believe about God, what I believe God is, is that Net. I don’t perceive God as a moral force. I don’t believe that the Net cares, really, what we do, any more than nature cares what we do. There are laws of cause and effect, certainly, and those pertain to both nature and the Net. We, the people, care. We, the people in your community, would rather that you not covet our neighbor’s wife or cheat or steal or dishonor your parents. But as far as the Net is concerned, you are fine. You are forgiven. You are valuable. You are essential. You are loved, and you are love.
I imagine the Net makes a sound that I call the Benevolent Hum. It’s the song the universe sings. It might sound like Om. And this humming energy, this creation, is moving — breath moving, cells dividing, things coming into form and leaving form, water to steam to clouds to rain to water. Being born and dying. It’s an infinite cycle. And we are fortunate enough to be present in this form in this moment. What a blessing.
So when I say God, or the Net, that’s what I mean.
Little Changes Action Step: Right now, make some 5-Minute Art expressing one moment from your life when you felt connected to the Net, to that which is bigger than you, to the beauty, grace, and mystery of life. (Need a suggestion? Write two short paragraphs about a powerful encounter you’ve had with nature, describing both what you experienced and what it meant to you.)
Copyright ©2016 by Sam Bennett. All rights reserved.
“If you don't believe that you can be creatively fulfilled, well, it doesn't really matter what productivity tools I give you, does it? And if you're not sure that it's really okay for you to be calm and successful and loved no matter what, then no amount of helpful advice will change your patterns. So we need to start at the very beginning — at the very center of you — and work outward. We start with your soul.”
Sam Bennett is the author of Start Right Where You Are and Get It Done. She created The Organized Artist Company to help creative people get unstuck and achieve their goals. More