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  • Writer's pictureRev. Ani

Crafting the Life You Want (part four)

Musings of an Alonester

Chakra Three: Attuning to Will and Self-Definition

Judith (2011) proposed, “The progression from lower to higher chakras is a progression from individuality to universality,” (p. 173). Similarly, in Up From Eden, American philosopher, Ken Wilber, articulated his transpersonal theory of human involution and evolution as a movement from superconsciousness to unconsciousness back to superconsciousness again in an ever-unfolding cosmic dance. Wilber (2007) hypothesized the process of involution as the nondual Unity of Spirit separating into phenomenal variety — an illusory mitosis, so to speak. This involution or fall is represented theologically as original sin in the Christian tradition and as avidya (ignorance) according to Hindus and Buddhists and may be understood as the awakening of self-consciousness.

Wilber postulated that the operation of evolution begins with the ground unconscious. He likened this condition to Eden, a paradise whose prime characteristic is unawareness, contrasted with Heaven, a state of transpersonal, enlightened awareness (Unity of Spirit) — much like the ascent through the chakras. Similar to Judith’s perspective on egoic identity, Wilber conjectured that personal consciousness bridges the journey from Eden to Heaven and back: pre-personal, personal, transpersonal, and down again in a fractal caper.

The work of the third chakra is tapping into personal power and our individuation. After establishing our roots, we reach upward toward the highest level of awareness, and a necessary step along the way is claiming our individual identity. It can feel risky to stand our ground and assert our truth because in doing so, we risk the disapproval of others.

Although I generally have confidence in my capabilities, I have operated from a shame-based persona for much of my life. Slipping back into shame is a persistent temptation. At my worst, I have made approval and validation from others an idol, and I have tended to defer to silence rather than endangering my esteem in the eyes of others by inhabiting my authenticity. This habit has had the negative consequences of losing a sense of my own validity and an inability to pinpoint my truth. Thus, it has taken substantial practice at owning my dignity, finding what is real and honest for me, and showing up for myself in meaningful ways.

A sense of individuality is the container for our experiences. Each of us interacts with the world from our unique lens of perception. What a gift it is to be a singular expression of the divine, having an absolutely distinctive viewpoint on everything! From this understanding, it is crucial for each of us to occupy the space that is particularly our own. In poetic terms, we are each a note in the grand symphony of Life, and it is our responsibility to sound our contribution.

Courageously embodying our unique self-expression relieves the suffering that shame delivers and empowers us to be change-agents in our own lives. In every situation, we can find our agency and enact it. In the process, we learn to accept making mistakes as part of our shared humanity, address antagonism in a mature manner, tackle roadblocks capably, and laugh at ourselves when we might take ourselves too seriously.

Questions that Facilitate Attunement to Will and Self-Definition

What do I want? What am I doing to get what I want? Is it working?

These three questions are the hallmark of William Glasser’s choice theory. In his insightful book Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom, Glaser (1999) proposed ten principles integral to his theory, two of which are: 

  1. We can only control our own behavior, and 

  2. Our point of power is in choosing what we will think and how we will behave. So according to his model, identifying exactly what I want is one of my basic freedoms.

Ignatius of Loyola, Catholic saint and mystic, master informal psychologist, and founder of the Society of Jesus (members of which are called Jesuits), taught that to determine what we want begins with a sense of purpose. The idea is that before we can discern what we desire in the small things, we must take the larger view of the overall ambition of our lives. To this end, Ignatius suggested that we begin with a mission statement. Here is an excerpt of the First Principle and Foundation that he wrote for himself and the Jesuits:

The human person is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord . . . Thus for our part we should not want health more than sickness, wealth more than poverty, fame more than disgrace, a long life more than a short one — and so with everything else; desiring and choosing only what leads more to the end for which we are created. ~trans. Michael Ivens, S.J.: The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola

So using the language of Ignatius, in determining what we want, we might ask ourselves, “What is the end for which I was created?” Likewise, in his book, God’s Voice Within, Mark Thibodeaux (2010), Jesuit priest, offered questions to aid us in crafting our own mission statement, two of which are, “

What is it that gets me out of bed every morning? 
When I am old and near death, what sort of life would I be proud and happy to look back on? (p. 138)

Years ago I wrote my own mission statement, and it has acted as a guiding light when I have felt lost and confused. This was especially true after my husband died, and I did not have a will to live. Quite simply, my mission statement is to be the presence of Love, and this commitment is what gets me out of bed in the morning. While contexts may change, the purpose does not.

Global mission statement affirmed, the question remains, “What do I want?” Thibodeaux (2010) outlined a four-step process to assist in finding the answer to that question. He suggested making space for silence, collecting relevant information, daydreaming, and reflecting on the daydreams.

Having a time of silent introspection requires a posture of listening. When we fill our day with constant sensory input, it can be difficult to hear the still, small voice within us that can help us navigate our life in a fulfilling way. In her mystical masterpiece, The Interior Castle, Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, named this sensory withdrawal the prayer of recollection and likened it to a turtle retreating within its shell or the curling up of a hedgehog. To locate our desires, the practice of interior and exterior silence is essential.

Part of discerning what we want also involves considering our options, and that is where data collection comes in. For example, we can solicit the opinions of trusted friends and/or mentors, consult books and videos, delve into published research, and visit pertinent places. In this exercise, we might reflect on not only what options exist, but what would be involved in selecting each option. In this way, we can make an informed choice.

The next step is to regard all the options and allow ourselves to daydream. Thibodeaux coined the term praydreaming to mean allowing oneself to daydream while noticing the desires of one’s heart emerge as a prayer. The final phase is observing how each option feels in one’s body when you imagine it. Do you feel a sense of hope and eager anticipation? Or is there an aversion or anxiety that manifests?

Once we have identified what we want, we can continue with the last two questions from Glasser’s choice theory. These inquiries examine whether we are currently taking action steps to get what we want and if the things we are doing are working. For example, I may want to be proficient at playing the piano, but I may not currently be investing any time in practicing. Or I may want to cultivate meaningful friendships, but what I am actually doing might be waiting for someone else to initiate conversation.

In attuning to will and self-definition, it is important to note that we can be sabotaged by the voice of our shoulds. This voice talks to us about what we ought to be doing, effectively distracting us from what we want to be doing. It represents an external, rather than internal, locus of control and illustrates the opposite of what the process of self-definition and owning our authentic will is all about.

So, after acknowledging my mission statement and making space for the praydreaming of my heart to emerge, I know that what I want right now is to live a simple life with a regular routine with people whom I love. This desire includes specific goals that facilitate the manifestation of my inner longings, and I have begun taking the action steps necessary to realize these goals. It feels good in my spirit to have clarity.

In part five of this series, I examine what it means to attune to the heart and self-acceptance.


Dear friend,

May your mind be peaceful and calm,

may your body be relaxed and comfortable,

and may your heart be filled with love.

Thank you for reading.

Blessings and gratitude,




Avila, T. O. (2003). The interior castle (M. Starr, Trans.). Riverhead Books.

Glasser, W. (1999). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. HarperPerennial.

Judith, A. (2011). Eastern body, western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. Celestial Arts.

Thibodeaux, M. E. (2010). God’s voice within: The Ignatian way to discover God’s will. Loyola Press.

Wilber, K. (2007). Up from Eden: A transpersonal view of human evolution. Quest books.

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