Words Don’t Change Your Life, Action Does

Allef Vinicius via Unsplash

There is lightness in me. After months of struggle and sadness it feels good to know that I’m on the right path. I am not free of pain but it is moving through. Each day feels better than the one before. I’m much less stuck.

What do you do when you want to feel better but your situation keeps dragging you down? How do you move through it? Do you do the same things over and over, banging your head against a wall wondering why nothing is working? Do you turn to substances to forget about the pain for a while? Incessantly turn to words, mulling them over, determining how to apply your situation to the remedy the author proposes? Do you ignore it all? Stuff it down hoping it doesn’t keep rearing it’s ugly head? Just make it all go away already, right?

Avoidance and books of the self help variety have traditionally been my graces, but both are bandaids on bigger boo boos that keep showing up. We have to get to the root of our problems and deal with them at the level of the problem for true change to occur.

Insanity = doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results

As a seeker my whole life, I’m happy that I’m finally finding teachers who have the knowledge and life experience to move us from deep pain and suffering to healing. Eckhart Tolle and Adyashanti are two such teachers, and recently I discovered an amazing soul who’s been through awful life stuff and isn’t afraid to write about it. Kiran Trace doesn’t claim to be enlightened. She is, however, awake and free. I don’t know her personally but I do have acquaintances who do. She’s the real deal and her book, Tools for Sanity is a game changer. It’s a short read. I urge you to pick up a copy. What follows is a brief overview. It’s changing my life.

Most of us don’t live from truth. We live from conditioning. We live from our shoulds, but sanity is about living and moving from truth, the pure impulse within us that is authentic and unique to each of us. It’s a simple concept, yet most of us don’t do it. We are social beings and we’re stuck. There are four tools for sanity …

Awareness is effortless and it’s available to us right now if we choose it. Instead of being aware, however, we choose avoidance. We ignore all the bad stuff instead of looking at it. (Hmmmm, yes. Guilty.) Why? Because we are conditioned to move away from pain instead of allowing it to move through us. How often are you not here? How often are you in your mind instead of the sensations of your body? How often are YOU your story? Once we recognize our mind projections, how often we avoid our (true) selves instead of embracing our is-ness, we move into awareness. It’s the first step.

Acceptance is a simple willingness to allow life to be as it is. Yet we push away what’s here right now, especially if the now feels bad. The easiest (and hardest) way to work through acceptance is with a situation that feels awful, and that you know you cannot change. I’ve learned hard lessons around acceptance this year working through my mom’s cancer. She can’t change her diagnosis. I can’t change her. After being in mountains of pain for months, I realized acceptance was my only choice, and once I made that decision, everything else became clear. Is it still hard? Yes, but not accepting it is even harder — and takes a lot more energy.

Alchemy is to transform. It’s dissolving pain into bliss. This one is harder to understand. Cognitively I get it, but how? Pain is a dense form of energy; we can feel it, but love and silence are lighter, more effortless forms. Tools for Sanity says that tenderness is the strongest force in the universe, and furthermore it’s not something we do, it’s what we ARE. We alchemize by stepping fully into the first two tools, awareness and acceptance. Like yoga, it’s a practice and I’m willing to work through it for the sake of being sane.

Alignment is authenticity in action, saying and standing in what is true for you — no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. There are no “shoulds” or “ought to’s” in alignment. It is a deep “delicious yes.” (My God, I love that! I am considering a tattoo of those words on my arm.) Alignment is about getting out of our own way so life can happen. Alignment doesn’t always make sense to the rational mind, but if anything is true for you — totally true, a delicious yes — then it’s true for everyone. It’s freedom, and the freedom we give to ourselves extends to others.

“The deepest truth in the universe is that everything is God. God is whole. God is the only one here. One. So if it’s true for you, it’s true for the One. Your true voice and action is everyone’s true voice and action. One plus one is still one.” ~Kiran Trace, Tools for Sanity

I love that this book is short and uncomplicated, four tools. But those tools are simply words unless we act. Only then can true change occur.


Hi! I’m Heather, a writer and yoga educator from SE Ohio. I share daily-ish here as part of my spiritual practice, and am working on my first book, Yoga Prayers. Download the first 25 pages, A Prelude to Yoga Prayers, for a brief introduction into yoga history and philosophy — and let me know what you think!