In February, my property on Maui, The Sacred Garden, was hit with a massive flash flood. Rain of one to two inches an hour for several hours on already saturated ground caused monumental runoff as we watched the normally dry streambed rise. We then witnessed trees ripped out of the ground and washed downstream ... and then, the 11-circuit labyrinth that has hosted people from around the world on their personal pilgrimages, got completely engulfed and, brick by brick, washed away.
My instant reaction, as the one who built it, was devastation. I simply couldn’t believe it was gone. I felt pain, sadness, and grief, and I was overwhelmed. Then, in one instant from the kind gesture of a stranger-friend on Facebook, I experienced an "instant reframe" moment and my pain was gone. An instant reframe is when we experience a paradigm shift in a matter of a split second that releases us from pain and suffering, simply by looking at something differently.
Someone sent me a video clip showing Buddhist monks working for days on creating a beautiful sand mandala, only to destroy it immediately upon completing it as a reminder of the impermanence of all things and to aide in the practice of detachment. In the video, the Dalai Lama put the remains of the sand mandala into a river so that the blessings could spread out around the world.
Immediately after being reminded of this practice, I was set free. I suddenly saw the destruction of the labyrinth as the exact same practice and a blessing to both the world and to me.
Then I hired a shaman to help bless and clear the adjacent property we had recently acquired; it had some unsettled energy from previous owners, and undoubtedly the previous owners before that. There are three properties in a row in the valley that have had a long reputation for illegal activities: smuggling, a heroin ring, a brothel, a prohibition-era still, and multiple drug overdoses. As I was explaining the illicit history to him, I found myself saying that these properties have had over a hundred years of addictive behaviors and expressed my concern of lingering energy from that mindset.
Then came another instant reframe. Right then and there in one sentence he turned my whole perspective around by reminding me, “More often than not people who use drugs and alcohol are seeking something greater. They are seeking an experience of the Divine and the present moment. They simply don’t know how to get there without substances.” Suddenly, rather than seeing 100 years of addictive behaviors, I saw that there had been over 100 years of spiritual seekers on the properties! I viewed my efforts to create a spiritual sanctuary complete with meditation gardens and walking labyrinths on the same property as a part of the same effort.
On a funnier note, my girlfriend recently called me in a state of panic. After umpteen years of being happily married to a wonderful man, she found herself suddenly feeling sexually interested in other men. A woman of great integrity, this completely freaked her out. She was wise enough to know that following the sensations would create huge and unwanted drama in her life, but she didn’t feel she could suppress or ignore the loud message her body was sending her. We discussed the situation at length, what she should do, what it meant about her marriage, what it could lead to, on and on. Then, somehow, a piece of information was revealed that caused yet another instant reframe. She mentioned that being perimenopausal she had just started taking hormones. I inquired as to when, exactly, she started taking hormones and lo and behold realized it coincided exactly with her sudden sexual impulses! When we recognized that all her sudden sensations of desire were chemically induced, all we could do was laugh. In one moment her marriage was at stake and in the next she faced a whole new reality. Ah, the power and freedom of an instant reframe!
So here’s my invitation to you: Can you set yourself free by making up a new story, gathering new facts, or gaining new information? Perhaps simply stepping back and getting a broader look at the possibilities will offer you the freedom of an instant reframe.