Thoughts on Transformation

Excerpted from “Thoughts on Transformation”
in Methadone: A Drug Counselor’s Guide

by George A. Boyd © 1989

Below I describe the human growth continuum, and the types of inner experiences associated with each stage. To understand what transformation is, it is important to place it in the perspective of the entire continuum of possibilities resulting from inner work on oneself.

The Human Growth Continuum

New Awareness – moving from normal waking consciousness into another state.

Insight – becoming aware of the causal or associated events preceding a present attitude, behavior, or life condition.

Catharsis – reliving painful life experiences and expressing the emotion buried in them.

Release – letting go of old attitudes and long-standing negative emotions.

Re-choosing – deciding upon a new life direction or a new life script; deciding to alter fundamental conditioning.

Rebirth – awakening to your transpersonal or spiritual life.

Breakthrough – moving through inner blockage into states of spiritual absorption or attunement.

Synthesis – forming a coherent, unitive understanding of your life and your place in the universe.

Transformation – creating a lasting change in your behavior, life condition, health, character, values, life direction, spiritual development, or in the level of your ability or Being.

Initiation – making a quantum leap in spiritual development, level of your ability and Being, together with being empowered by the Divine to use this new knowledge and ability in the service of self or others.

Transformation involves a lasting change. This change can be in form, in energy or vitality, in feelings or values, in viewpoint or beliefs, in goals or life direction, in spiritual consciousness or inner quality (virtue), in the state of one's Being.

We can be transformed by an experience, by a sudden revelation or realization, by a phrase in a book or a line in a movie, by an insight gained by inner process, by the touch of Divine Grace. We change, and we are forever, not the same.

Resistance to Change

However positive the result from transforming, from a way of living that doesn't work to a way which does, there is always resistance.

Resistance seems to be a part of the very structure of matter and energy itself. For example, an object at rest tends to stay at rest (law of inertia).

A discrete input of energy must be applied to boost an electron into the next excitation level. Our very atoms seem to want to remain at rest, to be left alone.

Why change, we tell ourselves? It is so much more comfortable to stay where we are.

Psychologically, we tend to remain in old habits, many of them destructive to our health and well being, detrimental to our best and wisest intentions for ourselves.

It takes patience, attention, and practice to change a habit.

The longer the habit has been with us, usually the longer it takes to uproot it.

Old attitudes, ways we have come to feel about a person, place, or thing, or about ourselves, are equally trenchant.

To create new feelings requires a new perception of the world, to discover a new truth that has previously eluded us.

To discover these new truths takes openness, the willingness to inquire without prejudice or preconceived notions, and the willingness to be honest with ourselves—things we are often very unwilling to do.

Emotional "truths" are typically founded on beliefs we have acquired in our upbringing: information about the world we have received from parents, in school, in church, from employers, friends and mentors colors our world view.

We tend to accept only new information in accordance with our previous beliefs, and the barriers within of criticism, doubt, and ridicule quickly accost any new idea or viewpoint contrary to what we have learned and accepted.

To believe a new thing takes critical study of all sides of an issue, to evaluate pros and cons, to make a judgment, a decision about which is true and which is not.

It is easier to leave the filter in place, and lead an unexamined life.

Our lifestyle, the way we have of valuing and behaving consonant with an internalized self-image, also resists being supplanted.

Through new sources of education, we gain exposure to new information, new ways of looking at our world.

We may come to see that many of our beliefs were erroneous, our information inconsistent with the facts, our behavior self-destructive, ineffective, or self-sabotaging.

To change our view of what is good, right, true, beautiful, wise—our basic values—is not easy.For example:

A teenage gang member in an urban ghetto may believe that it is "cool" to kill, to steal, to rape, to vandalize and to sell drugs because he has learned these values from his peers.

For him to adopt a new lifestyle, a new set of standards, goals and values, takes a major effort of re-education, of challenging old beliefs and ideas, of attacking old assumptions.

Sometimes nothing less than a major religious conversion can help some of us, who have become so rooted in our ways that cause so much misery and suffering for ourselves, and for those around us.

There is an inner core of our personality that seeks to survive.

It strives to have its desires met at any cost.

In many of us it is filled with rage and frustration; in some it is filled with hopelessness, apathy and despair; in others, sadness, grief and longing.

To transcend this bitter and painful core of egotism into the untrammeled, innocent life of the spirit is a mighty struggle.

It seems our entire organism resists the introduction of inner vision, of spiritual revelation of the higher truths, of the whispering of a still, small voice from within.

Many hours must be spent struggling with this ogre on the threshold until a breakthrough can be achieved, and we step out of the swamplands of the unconscious mind into the springtime meadow of the Life of the Spirit.

It is so odd, that freedom, love, purity, and joy are felt to be so alien to us, that we must fight against them as if they were our mortal enemies.

Finally, it is the grand change, the transformation from our old state of being into a new one.

When our consciousness expands, and we move "from glory to glory" towards our Divine Source.

This is the ultimate work upon which all these others hinge.

Initiation, as it is known in Western spiritual schools, or Samadhi in the East, is a permanent change in the state of our spiritual evolution.

Out of this fiery inner crucible comes revelation of new truths, the evaporation of old tendencies of mind that resist change, and the ability to apprehend and to understand without the aid of external advocacy or instruction.

"What is it", the hoary Upanishads ask us "that being known, allows all else to be known?"

The Transpersonal Self, the inner immanent Divinity, is this fountainhead of intuitive knowledge, the genie that sleeps in the bottle, a potential Master of all the worlds.

Yet we know not how to stir its mighty power into action, or how to trigger this fundamental transformation that changes everything else.

The Fortress

The organism develops armoring to resist change. This armoring includes:

  1. muscle tension and fascial armoring (spasm)
  2. inflammation or cyst formation
  3. formation of scar tissue
  4. deposition of adipose (fatty) or connective (fibrous) tissue
  5. paralysis or rigidity
  6. tenderness and pain
  7. association of parts of the body with past trauma and injury, eliciting tickling or withdrawal reflexes.

This walling off, pushing away, closing in, surrounding, rejecting, tightening against is the body's way of protection.

What is troubling us in our psyche (mind), is expressed in soma (body).

The two are indissolubly wedded, and if the words we speak lie, our body does not.

When transformation occurs, there is a concomitant organismic change.

  • This may take the form of a healing crisis, where the body eliminates toxins through the skin, the respiratory tract, the kidneys and bowel, with a sudden recovery.
  • This organismic change may be marked by the sudden relaxation of muscle spasm.
  • You may experience the cessation of long-standing pain, the release of organ congestion, or the dissipation of swelling.
  • You may find that deposits of fat and cellulite dissolve, cysts shrink and scar tissue reabsorbs.

All this yields a permanent change in the body; and the quiet pranic rhythm of health comes to reside where formerly were the symptoms of inner struggle, of dis-ease.

Psychologically, there is the same armoring, the same defending against external terror, hiding forbidden secrets and painful memories.

The mind develops defense mechanisms to ward off that which is perceived new and threatening to its safety.

It is at core, a survival mechanism.

Some of the ways the mind uses to defend itself include:

  • Denial, refusing to see the obvious
  • Projection, implicating others with our own motives
  • Rationalization, lying to ourselves
  • Withdrawal, avoiding our problems with fantasy or drug-induced euphoria
  • Repression, conveniently forgetting things too painful to remember
  • Regression, acting childishly or helplessly when we refuse to take responsibility for our situation
  • Displacement, getting angry at others, blaming them for things that are rightly our own responsibility.

And there are yet more devious ways the mind seeks to jealously guard its hidden treasures.

This continual running away, this avoidance of responsibility and reality by the mind is like a gatekeeper of the unconscious, trying to distract our eyes from discovering the painful, hidden truths about ourselves.

These defenses exist to protect us against the experience of pain, the uncertainty and anxiety that go with change.

That is why psychotherapy, which tries to change the mind on its own turf, can be such a battle, because it tries to confront the tenacious, devious resistance of the ego, which is battling for its life and territory, in its own native land. It does not give up without a terrible fight.

When transformation occurs, we see the letting go of defensiveness, the admission of the truth about the underlying issue, and the recreation of a new decision about one's life and values.

It is the ability to let down one's guard, and just to be: serenely, peacefully, sanely in one more facet of our being.

When our spirit bores holes in the unconscious loam that surrounds us like a suffocating mass, we gain a certain porosity, a space in our inner heart to let in the gentleness and holy breathing of the Light and Love of God.

A certain freedom emerges, allowing us to be who we uniquely are.

No longer ossified by cultural pressures of those who seek to squeeze out every trace of individuality and creativity within our souls, we follow our own light.

No longer meekly conforming to every rule and acceptable standard bequeathed to us in hoary antiquity by presumed wiser and more perceptive minds, we learn to listen to our own intuition.

When we transform in the loving heart, we become free.

Our cultural overlay peels off our spirits like warm blankets, and we discover truth by our own mining, drilling holes in space and dimension.

We burrow back to our True Home in God.


What transformation is not, is temporary. It is a crossroads we come to in our growth, and do not turn again. We do not go back to the way we were.

  • When you lose weight, it stays off.
  • When you stop smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating too much, you lose the craving, and you stop doing it, for life.
  • When you overcome a chronic illness, your health and vitality return, and your symptoms disappear for life.
  • When you undergo a true religious conversion, a rebirth, your attitudes, beliefs, values, and lifestyle are permanently changed. Your entire world has become new.
  • When you undergo a spiritual awakening, a discovery of the loving heart, you cannot hide anymore in the labyrinth of the mind—love is too compelling.
  • When you experience Enlightenment, the direct experience of the Transpersonal Self within you, you cannot go back to regarding yourself as mere flesh and bone, born of seed and destined to rot. You have touched the Sublime, and you are irrevocably changed.

So we say that when things appear to be transformation, but do not result in permanent change, it is another level on the personal growth continuum that has been experienced.

Workshop high, religious revivals, therapeutic discovery often masquerade as transformation, but are not.

The truth comes when we get back home, where our bright hopes melt like candle wax, and we discover that we have again deceived ourselves into believing we have changed, when we have not.

The test of transformation is not promises and hopes, enthusiasm and exhilaration, but quiet, effortless permanent mastery.

It is gone, and it is gone to stay.

It has changed, forever.

Preparing for Transformation

Transformation may come suddenly, without warning, but more often than not it is the culmination of a lot of inner work. Methods that can aid the likelihood of experiencing transformation include the following:

Physically: fasting, adoption of a vegetarian or raw food diet, cleansing of tissues by colonics or sweating, deep massage, deep relaxation.

Emotionally: autohypnosis, visualization and affirmation, inner dialogue, keeping a journal of your inner realizations (such as the Progoff journaling method), psychotherapy.

Mentally: education (especially philosophy, anthropology, religion, and psychology), reflection, inquiry, and study.

Volitionally: goal and priority setting, life planning, time management, practice of voluntary discipline (martial arts, dancing, sports training, learning to master a musical instrument, hatha yoga), and tratakam (the yogic practice of will and concentration training).

Spiritually: prayer, meditation, devotion to the Divine, absorption in the Sound Current.

Superconsciously: (awakening the potentials of the Illumined Mind): focusing the attention on breakthrough centers, expressing and channeling your spiritual abilities, arousing the Kundalini to bring about awareness of the higher vehicles of consciousness.

Transpersonally: initiation by using transformational methods.

Breakthrough Centers

When the attention is focused on a breakthrough center, it enables the mind to transcend into the Superconscious, into the Presence of the Transpersonal Self.

They form the basis of varied meditation techniques used by different traditions.

The essence of this practice is to focus on a particular psychic center or chakra, until the inner awareness passes to the doorway into the transcendent.

Breakthrough centers are described below.

Name of center Location Quality or Essence
The energy point Two fingers below the navel Harmony of movement, Chi
The psychic point Behind the solar plexus Sensitivity, intuitive feeling
The present time Between the eyebrows Reality, life as it is, attunement with the time-space continuum (Akasha)
The spiritual heart Right side of chest(Hridayam) Love, innocence, beauty and virtue
The AUM point Back of skull, medulla oblongata Presence of the Divine, the God Immanent
The Soul's Consciousness Center of forehead (third eye) or crown of head (fontanel) in some traditions Self-Realization, Gnosis
Life Source Source of breathing Ultimate Reality, Satchitananda

Using a breakthrough center is preliminary to achieving rebirth experiences, synthesis, and attunement with the Transpersonal Self and the higher vehicles of consciousness.

We may say it takes us to the doorway of ultimate transformation, but does not open the door.

Opening the Door

There are four basic modalities of transformation:

  1. Spiritual – opening through the channels of the heart.
  2. Grace-bestowing – opening through the fiery energies of Light (Holy Spirit, Shakti) channeled through a Master Soul or angels, in response to invocation or prayer for Divine Grace.
  3. Mantramic – unfolding the evolutionary potentials of the Transpersonal Self through the use of vibrational seed-sounds (bija mantra).
  4. Pranic – revolving prana (life energy) around the chakras through a breathing technique such as Kriya Yoga, or other types of pranayama. [Kundalini Yoga is a related method.]

These four methods work on the fundamental principle of consciousness; transformation at this primordial level is reflected at each level of the spiritual-psycho-physical structure by permanent change.

You can obtain training in these sacred techniques from Adepts in their practice.

They are little known in the West, but have been secretly passed down by oral tradition for centuries in India, China, and Tibet.

Only recently have they emerged into public knowledge at all through the patient scholarship of teachers and researchers such as Paramahansa Yogananda (Kriya Yoga), Sir Evans-Wentz (Tibetan secret doctrine), Baba Muktananda (Shaktipat traditions of Kashimir Shaivism), Arthur Avalon (Tantric Kundalini teachings), and others.

I leave it to interested individuals to investigate these and other sources that will provide suitable instruction and initiation into the mysteries of inner transformational methods.

They may come learn these methods from us through the Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation, the Accelerated Meditation Program, the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation, and selected webinars and workshops.]

Inner versus Outer

Through strong social pressure, through indoctrination, hypnosis or prolonged therapy, through brainwashing, through prolonged stress and torture, individuals can be induced to change.

This change is sometimes permanent: both inspiration and revelation, as well as torment and trauma can change us.

As a general rule, though internally induced transformation, when it is wrought by patient inner work and is genuinely motivated from within, is more long-lasting than that enforced or coerced from without. Examples of internal and external approaches to motivation are shown below.

Setting a goal, choosing Being told what to do
Emotional realization Attitude change due to
conversion or brainwashing
Mental insight due to inquiry Belief change due to information control: advertising, political propaganda
Voluntary habit creation Regulation of behavior and schedule by external authority
Curiosity, seeking to know Attempting to make information palatable by teaching in student's area of interest, or trying to inspire or entertain
Desire Seduction or temptation
Personal creativity or design Environmental "engineering", creation of settings, backgrounds or moods through lighting, music, or manipulating perceptual cues

The disappointment that follows transformational therapy weekends and workshops is understandable.

Many people gain deep realizations, profound insights, make breakthroughs with recalcitrant issues, affirm powerful resolutions for the future.

Much to their chagrin, within a few short weeks, the momentum they have built up in their personal lives and the enthusiasm has subsided, and little or nothing has changed.

Editor's note: it is for this reason that coaching becomes critical, as it is so difficult for training participants to sustain their momentum.

This is largely because it was an external force, an external source of motivation that inspired, encouraged, assisted them in reaching new heights.

The skill of the therapist or trainer coupled with the support of the group gave them the courage to risk, to share, and to more deeply explore than was possible in the past.

And this was positive; it was a helpful, beneficial experience.

It may not have become transformation, however, because it was induced from without.

To achieve a higher ratio of permanence, the motivation to change must be sincerely our own, the discipline and patient uncovering must come from our own efforts, and our realizations and insights truly internalized.

Grace may do part of the work, we may get help from therapists, teachers, and those who love us, but much of what is accomplished is our own effort, our own inquiry, our own persevering inner spiritual work (sadhana), pressing onward, ever onward, towards the goal.