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Excerpt from "The Law of Attraction: The Soul's Answer To Why It Isn't Working, And How It Can"

Chapter One: Is Thought Really the Magnet?

by Andrea Matthews


In order to answer this question we first have to define thought.

And that’s going to be a bit hard to do because there are so many

things currently defined as thought for which we might change

that definition if we considered all the angles. For example, as I

am writing this, I am really focused on what it is that I am saying. So, we might say that I am thinking. But the focus is not

really thought-based as much as it is what I call flow-based. Yes, I am thinking, but before I am thinking there is an underground,

almost intuitive place that I am coming from. The words do not

come from my thoughts as much as from that deep creative intuitive river. The thoughts seem to come after the energy of the

flow. When I go back later and edit what I’ve written, then I’ll be

thinking. I won’t be coming so much from that creative flow as I

will from detailed thought.

Further, we say thought very often, when we mean feel. Quite often in a therapy session, I will ask a client how she feels about something and she will say, “Well, I think….” Or he will say “I feel that….” This is a teaching opportunity in therapy for this is when I will say something like “Okay, that’s a thought, but what do you feel?” It is clear that the phrase “Well, I think” is going to take us to thoughts, but it is not usually as clear that the phrase “I feel that” is going to take us to thought. But when I feel, I don’t have a that. I feel angry. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. I feel joyous. I feel peaceful. There is no that in those sentences. They are simple, direct statements of feeling. That will give me a reason or an excuse for a feeling, but it will not define the feeling. For example: “I feel that you are going to get mad at me if I tell you the truth,” explains why I haven’t told you the truth, but it doesn’t say how I feel. But I feel afraid. “I feel that things are going to go hay-wire unless I do something to fix this” describes the reason behind my impulse to fix it, but it does not define a feeling, which again is fear. Try it, or catch yourself in the act of giving a thought when you mean to give a feeling.

In a given moment there might be hundreds of things of

which we are and are not aware, that one could call thought, but which might not really qualify as thought. For example, right now I am typing on my laptop. As I type, however, I am not thinking of each of the letters that I am hitting in order to complete a word and then a sentence. In fact, I can carry on a brief conversation while I am typing. Not a long, complex conversation to be sure, but a brief one can be had even as my fingers are flying across the keyboard. In fact, I find that the less I am thinking about each letter stroke, the better, more accurate and faster is my typing.

I learned from Mrs. Snow, my high school typing teacher, that if I moved from thinking about the key stroke to simply thinking about what I was writing, I would type more accurately and faster. For a while I envied the girls in the class who could type 70 words per minute on one of those old typewriters on which each key stroke took a strong strike of the finger. But they would always say that it was easy and that they put very little thought into it. I knew that it had something to do with what Mrs. Snow had taught us, but I couldn’t quite make it happen at first. Yet as I began to implement her theory, I proved it. And as time went by and I had to type college papers and then edit newspapers a magazines and eventually write books, I got faster and faster, and

the key strokes took less and less energy as technology improved. Mrs. Snow was right! She was the first to publically introduce me to the mind that functions below the level of thought.

As we examine the features of that world below thought, we have to also consider images. Generally speaking, if someone tells us not to think of a pink elephant, for example, the first thing that happens is that we briefly invent an image of a pink elephant, if only to know what it is that we should not be thinking. But is that image really a thought? Is it possible that we could retain that image without actually thinking of the pink elephant?

Why and how does the mind use images? First, we need to know that not everyone uses images the same way. There is a distinction between those who think first in words that are immediately converted to images and those who think first in images that are converted to words. And that just accounts for the seeing world. Does a genetically blind person create images as a response to a stimulus? So, let’s rephrase the question: What is it inside of us that makes us utilize either images, words or something else that is neither, as a response to a stimulus?

It is in attempting to answer this question that we begin to understand the limitations of thought. That immediate response, which is generated less than a nanosecond away from the stimulus—in image, word, or something else—comes from something deeper than thought. Very often we do not even know we have generated this response until we peel back the layers to find it. So, what is it that creates this response that occurs before thought can even grab hold of it?

Actually, there is a constant river of imagery and words that flows below the contents of everyday thought. We can access that river in three ways, through meditation, sometimes through relaxed daily routine, and through sleep. As we become practiced at meditation we fall down into that deep flow of energy beyond thought, which takes the form of images, feelings, intuitions, body sensations or just a soundless hum. Sometimes during a day, if we are well attuned to the inner world, we will slip past thought and into that river. And as we sleep, the dream world is total access to this river of information that flows beneath the conscious mind. So, if thought can be suspended and this flow continues regardless, where does thought stop and that flow begin?

Further, at least certain kinds of thought came about as a result of our need to act according social mores, to become civilized, to fit into a group. Back in the cave man days, that world below thought was much more the modus operandi. Like animals, we didn’t use thought as much as we used body function, instinct, intuition and emotion. Yet we survived, and some would say that it was during our ancient days that we were much more closely connected to the Divine. But somewhere back in the fifteenth century, Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” So, does this mean that the ancients didn’t really exist?

Today, we put tremendous stock in thought. In fact, the more well reasoned our words and actions the more highly we are esteemed by others. In the Western world instinct, intuition, imagination and emotion are still more or less relegated to the lower echelons of esteem, though this might be shifting just a bit. But it has been this way for so long that we operate out of the thought archetype as if it were the only feasible way to operate. And yet, I posit the theory that this way of operating is based in just that—an archetype. Thought is something that we, as a collective, have promoted as valuable for so many centuries now that we have developed an unconscious archetype for it. In other words, we all understand thought the same way.

In fact, if you go to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary online for a definition of thought, here is what you get:

1a. the action or process of thinking: COGITATION

b. serious consideration: REGARD

c. archaic: RECOLLECTION, REMEMBRANCE

2a. reasoning power

b. the power to imagine: CONCEPTION

3. something that is thought: as

a. an individual act or product of thinking

b. a developed intention or plan <had no thought of leaving

home>

c. something (as an opinion or belief) in the mind <he spoke

his thoughts freely>

d. the intellectual product or the organized views and

principles of a period, place, group, or individual

<contemporary Western thought>

By permission. From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate®

Dictionary, 11th Edition ©2010 by Merriam-Webster,

Incorporated (www.Merriam-Webster.com).

These definitions represent the common understanding and usage of the word thought, but do they really explain thought? For example, do the archaic synonyms, recollection and remembrance define thought? Reason, which clearly qualifies as thought, is a function of the cerebral cortex, specifically the frontal lobe. But memory—synonymous with recollection and remembrance—involves and is involved in several different regions and functions of the brain. Already we can see that reason is not as global as is memory. Memory can be a part of body sensation, the experience of external events, emotion, thought, space, direction, language, learning and more. And, of course, there are different kinds of memory, including various forms of short- and long-term memory. Many believe that we can have memories about events or facts that did not even occur in this particular lifetime. Most of us know that we simply do not yet fully understand memory, where it comes from or how it works. So, perhaps memory is not thought, but it can form into thought.

Can the power to imagine be called thought, as the above definition indicates? Or, does imagination form into thought? Many authors, artists and musicians will tell us that they get into a state of imagination in which either there is no thought or thought is the secondary function, in order to create their finest pieces. And as we’ve said, many of those who are well-practiced at meditation will tell us that there is a place to which they can go in the process of meditation in which thought is observed, so that the observer is coming from a much deeper place as he observes the thought. And, as we’ve also said, the dream-state, in which conscious thought is completely suspended, is filled with images or imaginings. So, again we would have to question our common definition of thought.

Now if we go to the verb form of thought we get think and here’s what Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary online has to say about that word:

transitive verb

1. to form or have in the mind

2. to have as an intention <thought to return early>

3a. to have as an opinion <think it’s so>

b. to regard as : CONSIDER <think the rule unfair>

4a. to reflect on : PONDER <think the matter over>

b. to determine by reflecting <think what to do next>

5. to call to mind : REMEMBER <he never thinks to ask how we

do>

6. to devise by thinking—usually used with up <thought up

a plan to escape>

7. to have as an expectation: ANTICIPATE < we didn’t think

we’d have any trouble>

8a. to center one’s thoughts on <talks and thinks business>

b. to form a mental picture of

9. to subject to the processes of logical thought <think things

out>

intransitive verb

1a. to exercise the powers of judgment, conception, or

inference : REASON

b. to have in the mind or call to mind a thought

2a. to have the mind engaged in reflection : MEDITATE

b. to consider the suitability <thought of her for president>

3. to have a view or opinion <thinks of himself as a poet>

4. to have concern —usually used with of <a man must think

first of his family>

5. to consider something likely : SUSPECT <may happen

sooner than you think>

By permission. From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate®

Dictionary, 11th Edition ©2010 by Merriam-Webster,

Incorporated (www.Merriam-Webster.com).

It is true that when we think, we are creating form. When we think we are forming opinions, considerations, judgments, reasons, or suspicions. But even this definition contains words that don’t necessarily match the more refined distinctions necessary to understanding thought. “To have a concern” for instance, though this is a common usage of the word think, implies that concerns come from thinking. In fact, concerns typically come from emotions. These emotions may or may not form into a thought. A second example: Is meditation thought? As we know, right this second there are countless Westerners out there struggling to suspend thought so that they can meditate. So, cogitate, yes; meditate, no.

Now, that was all said to say this: Perhaps there is something deeper that stirs within us, that can form as thought, but isn’t thought at its core essence. And the question asked in this chapter is this: With regard to the law of attraction, is it really thought that attracts? So now we can ask another: If there is something deeper that has to form or congeal into thought, then why is it that we believe that thought is the final magnet?

But if we play with the argument that it is our thoughts that attract, then we have to ask yet another question: Why is it, if thought is the magnet, that not every thought attracts? Well, those who espouse the current understanding of the law of attraction would say that we have to have a thought in a repeated fashion in order for it to attract. But what about those people who are constant worriers, whose thoughts are replete with scenarios of horror that reoccur in their minds daily, even hourly, even moment-to-moment—and yet their worries do not manifest?

When I was a child, one of my chores was emptying the trash into the outside garbage can, picked up later by the garbage men. Many times I would fail to do this chore during the day and end up having to do it at night. This meant that I had to carry the trash through the dark across my long backyard and through a small gateway covered to near invisibility with honeysuckle vines and out into an even darker ally, through which the truck would come the next morning to pick up the trash. Every single time I did this, I was terrified that some man would be lurking around in that alley and that when I got out there, he would overtake me, kidnap and/or kill me. Now this was well before the days in which that kind of thing happened frequently so I don’t know where I developed that specific fear. But I will tell you, my thoughts in combination with my emotions had developed a clear story about what was about to happen to me. I knew what this man looked like, smelled like, and sounded like. I knew what it would feel like to have him wrap his odiferous strong arms around me and drag me away. I could even feel my heels dragging on the ground as he pulled me by the neck and shoulders.

I’d start down the back steps with trepidation and by the time I was in the middle of the long backyard, I could feel my armpits prickling with fear. I’d stand outside the tiny opening of the gate to the alley and try to peer over it, under it, around it and through it before I’d enter. And then once I entered, I would throw the trash at the outside container, halfway put the lid on and run like a cheetah back to the safety of my house, feeling that man’s hand just behind my ponytail as it blew in the wind of my race with fate.

Now, I gotta tell ya’ that’s some pretty intense law of attraction work. But there was never, ever a man. While I’ve written some pretty cool poetry about that fear; and while I still remember the intensity of those nights as if I could launch back into them at a moment’s notice—still there has never been a man in the back alleys of my life. So, given all of that law of attraction work, why didn’t I attract a man who would kidnap and/or murder me?

Similarly, I’ve worked with many clients who tell me that they are doing that same kind of work, which includes the powerful thought formations, the intense emotions and visualization work, and yet they have not attracted their dreams. If thoughts are the magnet, even thoughts combined with emotions and image work, then why have these people not manifested their dreams? Well, I do not think it is because the law of attraction itself is invalid—though our current understanding of it certainly may be. But, perhaps we need to go deeper than thought for the answers to these questions.

If we go back to my frightening episodes with my imaginary kidnapper, we can look to all kinds of things. The first, of course, is that I do have a very vivid imagination. And as a child I was raised, as many of us were, in a very dysfunctional home, in which fear and insecurity was fostered, and love, nurturance and security were largely unknowns. So, the fact that I was terrified of some violent doom is not at all surprising to me as I look back.

But just what role does our environment play in our ability to attract the life we want? Over the years of working with people from all kinds of dysfunctional backgrounds I’ve met many who grew up in extremely abusive environments and even abject poverty. But instead of being crippled by this upbringing, they overcame it. They grew up to be fairly healthy, productive individuals who gave something back to their families and communities. Others grew up to be gang members, drug addicts, or extremely dysfunctional in some other way. They both experienced the same external reality, so what made up the difference?

Why did one child grow up to “attract” a good life and the other did not? And why did I not attract some horrible episode of torture that matched my fear of doom, developed in my dysfunctional environment? I say it might have to do with something much deeper than thought, something more akin to identity.

Let’s explore this further. Suppose that I would like to have a million dollars. No, let’s make it fifty million for good measure. I create a vision board with lots of pictures of money on it, and all the things I’d like to buy with that money. I meditate on it every single morning and every single night and I visualize having that money and what it will feel like to have it. I work hard on eliminating my fear of poverty and my fear of bills as they come in by pretending to myself that as I am writing out my check I’m actually writing a thank you note to the Universe for providing me with so much money that I can pay off all of my bills. I do this and more for a year but nothing shifts at all. In fact, I’ve had to take a cut in pay, since the current economic crisis has affected my employer. So, what is going on here? Why haven’t I attracted the money I want?

Well, the one thing we can be sure of is that there is more going on here than thought alone can answer for. Thoughts are formations made of some deeper energy. The work that I have engaged in as I try to come into compliance with the current understanding of the law of attraction is the work of formations. I have been very busy in the arena of formations, but I am not working at all with the energy that is behind the formations. In fact, I may find that the energy that is behind the formations does not agree at all with the formations I am making out of thought.

For example, it is possible that I have not truly explored what it is that I want. What do these millions represent for me? What will I have once I have the millions? We will discuss this more in-depth in Chapter 3, so for now, suffice it to say that one of the reasons I may not have manifested my dream is because I don’t really know what I want. But in order to know what I really want, I have to know who I really am.

And so, we come again to the issue of identity. What is my sense of myself as I try to tell someone who I am? Am I impressed more with a sense of myself as firm and implacable, unmoved by the circumstances of life? Or, on the other extreme, am I more impressed with a sense of myself that is empathetic and compassionate? What impact do these impressions have on my desire for fifty million dollars? These self-impressions are part of my identity. Isn’t it possible that how we sense and perceive ourselves, how we recognize ourselves could be a forming ground for everything else that comes after that? If this is true then the masks and costumes with which we identify are going to have something to do with what we attract, seek or invite into our lives. And if we live beyond mask and costume into something more authentic—wouldn’t this also impact our attractions?

We will talk much more about identity in Chapter 5, so for now, we can just assert again that there is more going on here than mere thought. We are beginning to understand then that thought is limited in its capacity to deliver the goods. Again, this doesn’t mean that the law of attraction is invalid. It only means that we must go deeper than thought—our all-too-often futile attempts to reason with the Universe—to learn about the true nature of the law of attraction.

And speaking of reason, if in fact it is true, as some think, that the frontal lobe, specifically associated with reason, is the most recently evolved capacity of the collective human brain, but has now become its dominate orchestrating force—what were we doing in the centuries before it evolved? As we look back on o ancestral history we tend to think that the further we go back the more savage, and therefore ignorant, we become. But here I am reminded of the story of Gideon, found in the Christian Old Testament, or the Nevi’im of the Tanakh of the Hebrew Bible in the book of Judges (Chapters 6 through 8).

In this story, Gideon is terrified of a visiting angel, whom he refers to as “Lord” and who is referred to in the text as “God.” The angel came to tell him to “deliver Israel from the hand of Midian”(6:13) and assures him that the task will be completed. After several strategies and tests to insure that he really was getting leadership from the Divine, he did begin to consider following the directive, albeit with a great deal of trepidation. Finally, after slowly and with resistance, completing several other tasks, he made a plan to fulfill this calling. He recruited vast armies from other tribes in order to go head-to-head with the Midianites and their allies, the Amalekites. As he camped out with his armies on his way to battle he was stopped by God, who informed him that: “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, lest Israel become boastful saying, ‘My own power has delivered me’” (7:2). He was instructed to eliminate from his army any man who knelt to drink water, cupping it in his hands to drink. Instead the one who “laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps” (7:5) would be selected to continue on with Gideon into battle. This left Gideon with 300 men to fight against an army that numbered “as numerous as the sands on the seashore” (7:22).

The ones who lapped the water without cupping it first in their hands were the more barbarian—the ones who had less of that organizing cultural principle of civility, i.e., less rational brain activity. And they won the war. But they did not win the war because they knew how to slaughter the enemy in a more barbarian fashion. In fact, they did not actually fight with the Midianites at all. Instead, Gideon divided them into three groups of 100 each, gave them each a trumpet and a pitcher filled with fire and sent them to three different sides of the Midianite camp. At his signal, they all blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers, and shouted and because God had given the Midianites into their hands, the huge number of Midianites and Amalekites began to run away screaming and fighting with each other.

Whether or not we believe this story to be historically or otherwise accurate is irrelevant to the metaphor the story yields. The yield is this: Perhaps we need to dance a little more on the wild side. This story leads us to our intuitive and instinctive nature, rather than to logic, reason and thought. All of Gideon’s problem-solving and logical strategy got him nowhere. All of our reasoning with the Universe, all of our thought control is not getting us what we really want. Perhaps reason, the most appropriate synonym for thought, and a utility of the frontal lobe, is not the brain function that is going to get us to our goal. We might need a more whole-brain, or holistic approach that includes more of our pre-thought capacities.

But the frontal lobe has now evolved into an executive sorter, a decider as to which function of the brain will be used in a given situation. Yet, according to a research article published in 2001 by the National Institute of Mental Health, entitled “Teenage

Brain: A Work in Progress (Fact Sheet),” unlike other parts of the brain, the frontal lobe does not fully mature until young adulthood. Perhaps this is why many of us can so easily attest to the fact that children are much more intuitive and imaginative than most adults.

I remember distinctly two informing incidents from my own children’s lives, which attest to this capacity. One day when I was swinging my three year old son in one of those one chair rope swings, I was stewing over something, lost in thought, as I pushed him absently. Suddenly I heard him telling me exactly what I was thinking. It was quite impressive.

Another more moving incident was when my daughter was almost two. I’d recently had a miscarriage, and in my grief over the loss of that potential life, I’d silently named him Timothy. No one else, not even my husband, knew that name. Within a few weeks of that occurrence, my eighteen-month-old daughter, while pushing a baby doll around in her stroller in the front yard, declared that this doll was her little brother and volunteered that his name was Timothy. Of course, it brought tears to my eyes as I sat down beside her and gave her a long hug and asked her to tell me about her little brother. She simply repeated that he was her brother and that his name was Timothy, as she put her soft little hand on my cheek. I wonder if these stories would have been the same if my children had already developed the frontal lobe. We all instinctively know that our survival depends on our ability to fit into a world that requires certain things of us. As we grow up in this world that requires more reason and less instinct, more cognition and less intuition, more thought and less emotion, perhaps somewhere in the unconscious realms we do not yet understand, we choose to grow that frontal lobe so that we can choose the reasoning function over those seemingly lower functions of intuition, emotion and instinct or even memory—through which we remember who we really are. Perhaps, unlike Gideon, we choose those who drink water from cupped hands instead of those who lap like a dog, because our frontal lobe is convinced to do so by a society that requires it.

If this is true then trying to get the law of attraction to work for us by working with our thoughts is like working with those men who drink water from cupped hands. In so doing, we miss the miracles. The term miracle as it is used here, does not imply a supernatural event, but an über-natural event—the most natural of natural events—those internal and external events that happen every day, often without our notice, until we move into the world below thought. I cannot explain why it is that the Midianites and Amalekites ran away when they heard the breaking of the pitchers, the trumpets and the shouts. But in this story, they did.

And I’m only taking this story as metaphor, not as fact. Yet the metaphor is good enough, is it not?

And if we read the rest of the story, we learn that Gideon summoned many other men from Israel to chase the Midianites and Amalekites out of the country and Gideon still had some convincing to do before the people believed in him and allowed him to lead them. But after all of this, Israel had 40 years of peace—the same number of years in which they had wandered in the wilderness before ever arriving in the Promised Land, later called Israel. Yet after Gideon lived many years and had many children, he died, and immediately the children of Israel “did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the hands of all their enemies on every side” (8:34). And so the extension of the metaphor allows us to consider that the übernatural can be forgotten. My theory is that the more we push for thought to be the magnet, the more we are forgetting these miracles.

Having said that, this does not mean that thought is useless and that we should spend our days seeking to be thoughtless. We might not even recognize a message from our psyches if we didn’t have the ability to assimilate intuition, emotion, sensation and other energies into thought. So, obviously the power of thought is in its ability to work with the other energies in the mind to give them understandable form. Thought, therefore, becomes part of the process of bringing those energies to consciousness. And that process is a huge part of what we are doing here on planet earth. So, thought is a valuable function, just not any more valuable than the functions that occur before it.

If we apply that understanding to the law of attraction what we can conclude is this: Trying to change my life by changing my thoughts is a bit like trying to change my computer’s program by using its keys to type out a letter to myself. And what we are going to learn about the law of attraction as we go is that it will require much more of us than changing our thoughts. But it will also reward us in a much greater fashion than just helping us to fulfill our dreams. In fact, what the law of attraction means for us to fulfill is much higher, wider, thicker, brighter and much more profound than just our dreams—though they may be a small portion of what is fulfilled.

So, to the degree that we are trying to change our thoughts in order to activate the law of attraction, we may be limiting ourselves to far less than what is possible. Further, it is probable that while we are trying so hard to change our thinking, we are simply repressing other thoughts. And this leads us to the next question found in Chapter 2.

Andrea Mathews is the author of two books, The Law Of Attraction: The Soul’s Answer To Why It Isn’t Working And How It Can (O Books, 2011), and Restoring My Soul: A Workbook for Finding and Living the Authentic Self (iUniverse, 2007). She has authored several published articles, and poems, has served as the editor of two small literary presses and won several awards for her poetry. The NBCC Approved Home Study called The Soul of Therapy is also her creation. Mathews is a Psychotherapist who provides Transpersonal Therapy in a thriving private practice, as well as a Corporate Trainer, Inspirational and Motivational Speaker. She is also the host of the very popular radio show called Authentic Living, on VoiceAmerica, the 7th Wave Network.

The Law Of Attraction: The Soul’s Answer To Why It Isn’t Working And How It Can is available now at the list price of $16.95, discounted to $13.22 on www.Amazon.com , and £8.99 in the UK


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