When I first watched the first Star Wars movie in 1977 I was excited by the idea that there are hidden powers that I could acquire if I set my mind to it. The idea that I could move matter and influence other people with my thoughts was very tantalizing indeed.
At the time, like most young viewers, I was particularly interested in the flashier parts of the Force. The kind that Obi Wan used to get past the imperial soldiers with the droids. And of course, the bit of lightsaber mayhem when Luke was threatened in the bar.
Over time my understanding of the Force has deepened and changed. While the Force and its ultimate source remains mysterious, I do feels its presence at times. Moments when I feel energy moving through me. Moments when I feel centered and connected to everything.
If you fancy yourself a Jedi warrior, here are some questions and thoughts that may guide you toward connecting with the Force and avoiding some of the shadow aspects of its power.
- What makes you feel most alive? How much time do you spend engaging in this activity? What activities leave you feel depleted and/or full of regret? What activities give you a physical or emotional “hangover?”
- What people empower you in your life? What people see and bring out the best in you? On the other hand, what people drag you down or undermine your self-confidence? (You can flip this around by asking: How do I bring out the best in other people? What do I do that drags others down?)
- How do you recharge your batteries when you feel stressed or depleted? Do you make time for your own well-being? If not, why not?
- Are you working on becoming the author of your own life? Or are you letting someone else write the story for you? When we follow someone else’s path rather than our own, we tend to feel bored, tired, burdened or confused. (This question is especially apropos if you plan to live in Western culture.)
- Do you challenge yourself in directions in which you’d like to grow? Do you embrace new opportunities? Or do you tend to take the easy way out and then feel bored or disappointed? (This is tricky because if everything about your life seems challenging, it may be that you are on the wrong path. And those who have found their path early on may feel like life comes easier for them — not that they don’t work hard at their pursuits.)
- Finally, how do you relate to the great mysteries of life? The mysteries of both the outer and the inner world. Don’t forget, there is a spiritual dimension to the Force. (Spiritual in the largest sense of the word – not necessarily religion.)
Every important choice that we make either enhances our connection to the Force — or diminishes it. Part of becoming Jedi is learning to pay attention to the effects of our actions — including on ourselves. Of course, sometimes we have to be knocked down a few times in order to figure out the right moves. And in the process of persisting through difficulty and failure we may gain resilience and self-knowledge and even arrive at wisdom.
May the Force Be With You!
Mark Evans, Ph.D.