by Ellen Livingston
One day ten years ago, newly on my own with three small children, no real income and a lot of angst, I came across a beautiful page in a magazine. It was so compelling to me that I tore out the page and taped it to my kitchen cupboard where it remained until I moved from that house 8 years later. Filling the page was a photograph of a woman in a bikini, facing the shore of the ocean with her arms spread wide and her face tilted toward the sun, her shadow visible on the sand behind her. At the very bottom of the page were printed the words, “Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you. Maori proverb.” This simple truth stunned me. And that day it became a mantra for navigating my life.
Recently, I received a note in my inbox from Robert, a man who had heard me speak these words two years ago in a speech I gave, and he now wanted to know the origin of the phrase. He expressed his gratitude, and related to me that his attention to these words had brought such profound positive shifts in his own life that he had been passing the phrase on to friends who were also finding it to be a powerful change agent.
It’s such a deceptively simple statement – Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you – yet it holds the most profound wisdom. Today it feels to me like a good friend, a gentle reminder to keep turning myself toward the light no matter how difficult circumstances may appear to be. So many times I notice myself resisting this choice to look for the light, as if I need some affirmation that my problems are real and should upset me. But as I have practiced through the years and developed my “turn your face to the sun” muscles, it has become easier to want to make this choice, every time. It’s like eating food that brings me health – the more I eat food that loves me back, the more my body and mind wants more of this good feeling.
I often suggest to my clients that they ask themselves the question, “What level of health do I want to create for myself?” Another great question to ask yourself is, “How good do I want to feel?” In both cases, our resistance to choosing the highest path for our good may be an indication of our fear of stepping into our divine power, and a belief that we are not capable or do not deserve to live fully in the light and in our vibrant potential.
On a retreat I led in Costa Rica our group climbed to the top of a waterfall where there was an opportunity to jump off a 30 foot high cliff into a deep pool below. One participant, a woman who was a world-placed Jiu Jitsu master and built like an Amazon, was nevertheless afraid of heights and terrified to take the plunge. She waited until the others had safely jumped, and then through her tears she said clearly, “I’m changing my story!” and she jumped. In this pivotal moment she made a decision to turn toward the sun, to tune into what she really wanted and to feel her courage. Her fear fell behind her like a shadow, and she was now energized instead of limited by it.
When we consistently visualize what we most want and live from our dream instead of from the difficulty of our current circumstances, we free up energy that can change us and change the world. Just like going to the gym to build the muscles of our body, or showing up every day on our yoga mat, inspired living is a daily practice. It’s a daily practice of listening, deeply, for what has positive energy for us. One of my favorite authors, Tama Kieves, says it this way: “Your desire is the integrity of your Spirit. When you follow what lights you up, you become Light.” Another helpful quote is, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”
I invite you to consciously focus on this powerfully simple mantra I offer here: “Turn your face to the sun,” and watch the Law of Attraction at work. I would love to hear of the transformation this brings in your life.
Ellen Livingston, Life Coach and Yoga Instructor, leads popular annual transformational health retreats in sunny Costa Rica. February 7-15, and 21-27, 2014, the retreats include daily yoga, cleansing natural diet, life coaching, waterfall and beach adventures, and more. EllenLivingston.com and CostaRicaFunandFitness.com