NOTE: It’s recommended that you review the series introduction before reading full article.

Stage: The Plateau / Element: Water

“One rain does not make a crop.”

~Creole Proverb

Learning to Carry Water

Many years ago, my beloved mentor said, “Planning is priceless. Plans are useless.” To me, this was an infuriating concept, and if it hadn’t been for the respect I had for her, I would have probably responded with: “What the actual &#%* does that mean, and how do I apply it in practical terms?” Instead, I calmed the fire inside me and responded flatly, “I’m going to need more information.” With a jovial and infectious laugh (which is often her response to my surgical need to dissect every detail), she replied “It’s better I don’t explain. Your mind doesn’t need to understand because your heart does.”

Continually, she would speak about the heart and its ever-present, solid and unshakeable wisdom. What I soon came to learn was that the cord between conscious awareness and the heart is often crimped by the madman residing in-between our ears—in essence, the mind is not your friend.  Does it have its place? Absolutely. Should it reign supreme in the hierarchy of ‘you’? Absolutely not.

Planning vs Plans

If we break down my mentor’s words of wisdom, we have two components: planning and plans. ‘Planning,’ is a directive the mind can understand, as it identifies with a task: “I’m valuable because I’m planning.” Giving the mind a job offers it a sense of purpose and keeps what would otherwise be a source of interference, in check and focused. Most importantly, with the mind occupied, the heart (a.k.a., the soul’s mouthpiece) has the opportunity to inform, inspire and instill.

‘Plans,’ is where things tend to veer off the rails seeing as this involves the ego and its fervent, and sometimes brutal, quest for a permanent and defined identity. While the mind stays in an exploratory frame of ‘planning,’ essentially, playing within the realm of what is possible, the ego—the maker of the ‘plans’—barges in and replaces exploration with a rigid stone-constructed directive: This is the plan. This is what is going to happen. This is who you are.

With the heart’s expansiveness of exploration now quashed and the ego’s hardened regime in place, we can see how ‘plans’ are counter-effective and, ultimately, useless. Why? Because there is no room for expression. There is no path for curiosity’s hungry feet. There is no space to dream.

Once bound by the confines of the plan your ego has forced upon you, you are—for all intents and purposes—unconscious. To be clear, I’m not using this term as it relates to the structure of traditional psychology. I’m using it as it relates to the principles of the ‘Grid Work’ (more on this in future articles). Ego’s plan has wrapped you in an identity whether you like it or not, “I’m the smart one,” “I’m the most talented;” “I’m the top of my class;” “I’m the hardest working;” “I’m the breadwinner;” “I’m the most sought after in my profession;” “I always win.” The list goes on. When you’re in an ego-wrangled unconscious state bent on making that identity true, you are constantly at the mercy of the biggest beast any of us will ever face: fear.

Fear will manifest consciously, or, in the ‘Natural,’ in many forms, and on a spectrum of varying intensity: a need to control, aversion to intimacy, anti/pro risk behavior, over-functioning in perceived role(s), ruthless pursuit of assumed desires, addictive tendencies, lack of self-care, judgment of self/others, biting communication style, territorialism, shaming. Again, the list goes on.

Fear can also manifest in the Natural as a kind of paralysis or fog-like state: complacency, despondency, restlessness, purposelessness, longing, irritability, lack of inspiration, defensiveness, loneliness, joylessness, superiority and so on. Fear, at its base, has only one function: to keep you enslaved to the ‘Plan.’

How does fear bind you?

By perpetuating the illusion of separation. It’s that little voice in your head ready to slap on labels or tell stories—often quite far from reality—about what’s happening in any given situation: “He’s/she’s doing that on purpose;” “he’s/she’s trying to control me;” “he’s/she’s untrustworthy.” Now, the ego has you right where it wants you: dependent upon It for your identity and supposed safety, which ultimately translates into a feeling of being trapped or stuck.

Yet, you need not vilify the ego, seeing as within an equally weighted internal structure, the ego has its place. The nucleus of the message is attaining balance: All the parts of you need a voice, most importantly, the heart. Listening to the heart takes courage and practice; it whispers, whereas the mind shouts and the ego screams. And, the cacophony of sound—if left unchecked—eventually causes fatigue, and once you’re exhausted, the ego and its plans easily take the reins.

Responsible plans are, of course, excluded from the framework of this chapter’s focus, as it’s advisable to plan your estate, retirement, living will and other practical life matters. Specifically, the plans being referred to here are those containing absolutes, such as “I must make partner/managing director/vice president by thirty-five,” “I have to buy a home by forty,” or, “I’ll consider myself successful when _____”, “I’ll be fulfilled if _____.” It’s these when/then and if/then plan drivers that trap the current of our co-creative connection to not only the Universe, but also our very selves.

What’s crucial to remember is that you are not your ego’s plans, and you are not separate; we are all in this together. You are not other people’s expectations. You are not the sum of all the parts thrust upon you, whether societal or familial. You are not a product of your environment. You are what resonates from deep within your being, the unique expression only you were given—one that rises up through the floor of your soul and sends shockwaves through your heart. You are gloriously and wonderfully made, and until you let in your resolute greatness, you will feel the constant pang of its absence.

Go Where The Sun Doesn’t Shine

In my experience, it’s not whether or not you’re stuck—because most of us, at one or multiple points in our life, are, or have been—it’s whether or not you’ll allow yourself to see it—to feel it. When you take time to analyze the plan that’s been running your life, you may realize what your heart has been telling you all along: that it’s out of step with, or counter to, who you actually are.

Most of us have pieces of our identities defined by goals, titles or achievements, but at what cost? For every false rose our ‘plan’ identity has planted, there are three true roses just beneath it waiting to bloom: inspiration, imagination, illumination. Who we are can only push up and through encrusted earth if we have the courage to first till the soil, and that may mean ripping up and mulching roses we’ve been tending to our entire lives.

Yet, know that those false roses have grown in an artificial environment—one heavily curated by what we want to see, what coincides with our plan and what furthers our view of who we think we are. The garden is tightly controlled, the sun always shining, the air overly perfumed, and if we get close enough, we’ll most likely notice the petals look too perfect, like something manufactured willfully masquerading as real.

Breaking away from the plan requires first accepting that the plan is not who you are.

Secondly, you must accept what is, which transforms into: “I am not my/my ego’s plan(s).” This, in and of itself, is an irrefutable self-admission. You will feel a weight lifting up and away from you, because you’re surrendering to what is versus what isn’t; that which is real versus that which is false.

With this step, you’ve started tilling soil, and, more importantly, you’ve let in the rain. You’ve traded an artificial ever-shining sun for the truth of a garden nourished by one of the most fundamental building blocks of life: water.

The power of giving yourself permission to awaken is profound, and little by little clarity will seep into your daily view. The Grid Work is subtle in that, it works on you. The soil you’ve begun to mulch will slowly co-mingle with the elements and newfound nourishment being absorbed. In time, tiny seedlings will sprout—evidence that the heart again has a voice—and your mind can return to a state of play: planning to create, planning to align, planning to express.

Accepting what is doesn’t mean waking up and finding yourself a different person. It doesn’t mean quitting a job, shirking responsibilities or severing relationships; it’s far subtler than that. What it allows for is letting go of that which no longer serves your higher purpose, your true expression, or your ability to summon, then carry, your own water.

It is our given birthright to command the elements within us, each with its own fruit to bear. But those elements demand balance, and they deserve respect. To use them, you must understand them and to do that, you must first surrender to your true and natural state: honoring that which you were born to express.

Your heart knows who you are, and in giving yourself the freedom to see ‘what is,’ you begin tilling soil. You leave the falsity of what was and step into the grace of what can be. If you will stand in the fresh earth you’ve mustered the courage to mulch, even if only for a moment, you can open your heart, then let it rain.

How To Move The Mountain

Grid Focus: Self-assessment (Tools For Moving Your Mountains)

Elemental Phase: I am but a drop of rain.

  • Get still and breathe deeply until you can hear your own heartbeat clearly. You don’t have to forcefully listen, as the sound will simply meet you where you are; your heartbeat will slowly merge into your conscious awareness. Once you’re still enough to hear it, move the next step.
  • Ask yourself: “Where am I in resistance?” Innately, you already know the answer to this, but the goal with this exercise is to bring the answer into your awareness without judgment or a need to ‘fix’ or ‘act upon’ anything you discover. Once you are aware of the area of resistance, move to the next step.
  • Ask yourself: “What ‘is,’ that I am in resistance to?” Move away from the urge to ask why you are in resistance, as it’s not relevant. What you need to bring into your awareness is ‘What is.’ Once you feel this is clear, move to the next step.
  • Gently, tell yourself: “I’m willing and able to accept what is. It does not define me or control me.” Repeat this silently to yourself until you feel the resistance leave your awareness (stick with the mantra and actively elect to let go of time, stay in harmony with the phrase until you’re in an honest state of release).

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Shannon Denise Evans
Shannon owns a boutique marketing & branding agency in NYC and is the author of 'What The Mountains Know' and the novel series 'Velvet Moon Chronicles'.