In one of my courses on Kauai I emphasized the flexible nature of reality with an exercise I sometimes use to demonstrate this. On the beach at Hanalei Bay, under tall ironwood trees moving gently in the soft sea breeze, we gathered in a passive kind of meditation known as "nalu." The idea was to pick something fairly unusual to meditate on. The object of our focus, chosen at random from the group of fourteen people, was a purple feather. That is, we each conjured up a feeling/image of a purple feather in our minds and held that concept in our awareness without judgement or expectation for several minutes. And that was it.
The purpose, as I explained to the class, was to see whether, and how, a purple feather might appear in someone's experience over the next three days. I told them that they might see a real one, a picture of one, or they might just read or hear about one. Then we dropped the matter and went on to something else.
The first time I came across this kind of experiment was in a book by Richard Bach, in which the object to be focused on was a blue rose. At the time, in the seventies, I did the focus, not expecting much from it. The next day my first client at my office in Marina del Rey came in wearing a dress with blue roses on it. It happened to be my mother's birthday, and when she came in to visit me that afternoon I gave her a birthday card with red roses on it. Then, without knowing anything about my focus experiment, she mentioned that my father had always given her a blue rose on her birthday, something I had never heard before.
Now, I was already quite familiar with ideas about the possibility of changing reality from Huna, Hawaiian shamanism, and other studies, but it's one thing to know it as a theory or even a gradual process, and quite another to experience it so directly, so quickly, and so simply.
Of course, the first reaction from most people would be to call it coincidence. What possible connection could there be between a simple, unemotional thought and an experience in the outside world? Well, one time could be coincidence; two times maybe; three times possibly. But how about a hundred times? Over the years I've done this experiment myself and with others well over a hundred times with the same result. Think of something, anything, clearly and with a minimum of tension, and it will appear in your environment within about three days, in some form or another.
That last part is significant. "In some form or another" means that your thought doesn't necessarily appear as an object. In fact, the way in which it appears may be quite varied. It could be an object, or a picture, or a drawing, or you could read about it, or you could hear someone talking about it. Yes, I know there is an objection that you might just be noticing something that might be around anyway, but remember the number of times this has happened consistently, and the fact that the experiments have involved purposely unusual objects.
I am not trying to say that the thoughts bring the experiences into existence. That's only one theory of how it could happen. Perhaps we are shifted into an alternate reality where the experiences exist. Or maybe our thoughts merely attract existing experiences to us, or us to them. At this point I really don't know. There are many possible explanations, but coincidence isn't one of them. The main point is that reality isn't what we've been taught it is. Reality isn't just "out there," something separate from what we think and feel. There's a very intimate connection between "in here" and "out there." One of the greatest adventures of life is exploring that connection.
But back to the purple feathers. The very first result came the night of the experiment, when the class was having dinner together. It really wasn't much. One of the students sitting next to me showed me a piece of orchid that had fallen from her lei which had the color and shape of a purple feather. The next result came the next day when my colleague Susan went to dinner with her mother at the Marriott Hotel. As she told me, when they reached the bottom of the escalator taking them down to the lobby she noticed that two "kahilis" or feather standards formerly used by Hawaiian royalty which stood on each side of the escalator were made of purple feathers, not typical of the ones used during the monarchy. A student from Paris reported: "Just to let you know that, on Saturday, after our last day of the class, I noticed that the fabric of the bedspreads in my hotel room had a design with purple feathers in it - I think this counts!" A student from Germany wrote: "We had a good journey back home to Germany and in my apartment on Monday I found a purple feather on the floor." And the student from Paris added: "My daughter and I both collect feathers. She arrived back in Paris from the U.S. on Monday and, with no knowledge of our purple feather story, presented me with a purple feather." By Tuesday, a little longer than three days, all the students of that class had been told about the purple feather findings of the others, and so everyone had a purple feather experience of some kind.
Believe in coincidence if you like, but I think you'll get more out of life if you pay extra attention to the relationship between your thoughts and your experience. It just might give you an edge on making your dreams come true. As another student put it after hearing about all the purple feather experiences: "What a great lesson in awareness and being in the moment. It made me realize that sometimes when I am intensely preoccupied I wouldn't notice a purple feather (or whatever else I might need) if it dropped down and draped itself around me. "