Have you ever stood at the bottom of one of those old city buildings that has, at its center, a spiral staircase that goes all the way from the lobby up to the top floor?
Well, those buildings look a lot like our lives. With each step we climb, we gain greater and greater perspective. But buildings have a finite number of steps and floors. In the case of life, the staircase is infinite. The staircase never ends.
When we discover a pattern, a repetitive cycle in our lives, our first impulse is to try to break it. But our patterns are there for a reason. They’re meant to teach us something important. Eventually, what we really want is to get to a place of appreciating our patterns—because regardless of how we perceive it in the moment, everything that happens in our life is a catalyst for change and growth. When you feel as if you’ve tripped and fallen on the same exact step over and over again—whether that step is financial turmoil, or heartbreak, or disappointment, or lust—you are, in fact, on a new and different step, on a higher flight of stairs, each and every time.
With every breath, you are making your way up that infinite staircase. With each step, we are able to recognize and appreciate that we are never passing through the same moment twice. So within a few breaths of where you fell over, you are already fresh and new. You’re constantly in a new place of awareness and experience.
You’ll never meet the same step twice.
We have common themes and patterns that show up in our lives. Marrying the wrong guy, losing and gaining the same ten pounds, being able to meet only the minimum payment on your credit cards. We will meet these common themes and patterns in a more evolved way in the fullness of time. The oppression of your twenties is the liberation of your seventies. At seventy, you have greater perspective. You’re further up the staircase. So even if you’re still tripping and falling, it means something completely different than it did when you were younger.
Project yourself, for a moment, into the future. Look back—as if through the opposite end of a telescope—on yourself as you are right here, right at this moment. Perhaps you’re sitting on a sofa with your feet up, reading this book. Perhaps you’re riding the commuter train. Maybe your kids are small and crawling underfoot, or they’re off at college, or you don’t have kids. Maybe you’re worried about the size of your bank account, or what you’re having for dinner, or whether you should become a vegetarian. Maybe you just had the same fight with your spouse for the hundredth time. Look back at yourself from further up the staircase. Sometimes viewing our lives from an expanded perspective can be enough to break the pattern. What do you see? Does whatever it is that you’re tripping on today still matter? Of course, we know from experience that it doesn’t. This is the gift of perspective and awareness.
The patterns that make up our daily lives can become ruts. We fall asleep on the same side of the bed each night. We take the same route to work each morning. We catch the same train. We sit in the same car. Talk to the same people. We use our favorite mug for our tea. We make our kids the same breakfast. We answer the phone in the same manner. Habits. These are ingrained so deeply within us that we don’t even notice or recognize their repetition.
Of course, these are minor examples. Many of us comfortably live our whole lives this predictable way. But then there are the subtle patterns that can be more problematic and harder to recognize. Perhaps you find yourself drawn to emotionally unavailable people, but then you wonder why, when your beloved uncle passes away, none of your friends offer to accompany you to the funeral. Or, in romantic relationships, maybe you’ve chosen cheaters again and again, but still you fall for a new guy whose marriage recently broke up because of his affair.
This is unconscious choosing.
We have the opportunity to become aware of and alive to our own motivations. Our own unconscious choices. When this happens, we can begin to choose differently.
From a place of freedom.
When our patterns are revealed to us, we face a fork in the road. Are we going to take the road less traveled? Or the one we’ve worn down with our ceaseless, fruitless pacing?
When I was growing up, my uncle would always say to me, “Don’t be a robot.” I was seven years old, and I had no idea what he meant, but his words stayed with me. As I got older, I realized that people—grown-ups—often live the same day over and over again. Years pass. And nothing alters. This kind of robotic repetition can seem like safety—but when I see people living inside their patterns, it’s as if they aren’t quite alive. Their need for stability is suffocating them. Their light is diminished. Their patterns have become a web, strangling them.
So here is today’s challenge. This afternoon, instead of eating lunch in front of your computer or while working at your desk, pause for a moment. Break a small habit. See if perhaps that lets a bit of air in, as if you were opening a window and feeling the breeze. If you always eat alone at your desk, instead—if the weather is temperate—invite a colleague to join you on a park bench or in a nearby café. Think about how this change in routine affects your day.
From here, expand your thinking about what your deeper patterns are. If you tend to avoid eye contact with a particular senior colleague, make a point—just for today—of saying hello. If you never do anything spontaneous, surprise your wife with a small gift or tickets to a play. Notice the way that altering the small stuff leads to thinking about the bigger picture.
After all, if you don’t climb out of your unconscious rut—if you don’t allow yourself to take risks—you will never truly know what blessings life has in store for you.
We measure our lives in minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. We are babies, children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged, elderly. But time as we understand it does not, in fact, exist. Time is a mental construct. The dimension of energy and spirit is timeless. We are living our lives all at once. And because of this, we are able, at any given moment, to access all that we are. We are able to tap into our higher selves. To access greater connectivity. Greater love.
Imagine that you are on the top step of the very long and very beautiful spiral staircase I mentioned earlier. If you look over the railing, you will see it unfurling below you, floor after floor after floor. From this vantage point, you are able to see every indentation, every place where you might possibly trip and fall. The shining banister. The iron balustrades. Over your head there is an ornate skylight made of beautiful stained glass. And above the skylight, infinity.
If we could always see our lives through the eyes of our highest self, we would understand that this spiral staircase is our journey and that what may appear to be our own limited pattern is actually a part of a much greater pattern. From this place of seeing, we can look at our progression. We can observe it all—our whole lives—as it unfolds.
From this top step, we can guide ourselves.
We can teach ourselves to trust the fall.
We are meant to trip and fall. Every trip and fall is leading us to a greater vibrational threshold. If we could see the blessing, we wouldn’t be so afraid.
Trust the pattern. This pattern is yours—as individual as a snowflake. In this pattern is every lesson you need to learn. Every reason you’ve been born into this body, this moment. This pattern is you.
From the top of the spiral staircase—from your highest self—reach out a hand to your younger self, the one who is reading this book at this very moment. Your higher self is telling you that it’s okay—all of it. You are in constant motion, ever spiraling upward. Yes, you will trip and fall—but never on the same stair, never in the same way. As you drift off to sleep, look down at yourself with love and compassion. See yourself for the beautiful, perfectly imperfect, exquisite being that you are. Understand that your patterns are your journey. They are the musical score to the great adventure of your life.
Excerpted from Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion & Joy by Panache Desai. Copyright © 2014 by Random House.