by Jennifer Louden –
For most of my life, I created what I wanted from an “I’ll show them” stance. At some point in my early life, I decided I wasn’t smart enough to accomplish what I wanted using talent and brains, so I would rely on my will instead. All I needed was one person to challenge me, to doubt me, and I was off.
When I conceived of my first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, and a friend said, “You’ll never get that published,” I had the fuel I needed to get published, albeit with teeth gritted, jaw clenched. When the same friend said, “Well, that’s nice but you’ll never sell more than 20,000 copies,” I sold hundreds of thousands. When a guy I went to high school with retorted, “You’re a writer? But you never could spell,” I became even more determined to be a successful writer (but not to learn to spell).
As my spiritual journey deepened, and I reached middle age, my desire and ability to create on sheer will disappeared. When I no longer believed my master assessment, “I’m not smart enough,” the challenge to prove myself became meaningless. I was left feeling flat and lost, without another way to create my list of projects and desires. How would I move forward?
I was in the midst (and perhaps for a long time) of the classic spiritual journey: moving from creating and living from ego-mind, that easily exhausted small “I,” to creating and living from the vast, unknowable inexhaustible “All.” I was learning to access to the deeper well of creativity and meaning. I had certainly observed this same shift in many of my coaching clients and retreat participants, and I came to see it as part of everyone’s essential journey.
I began to build a bridge from where I was stranded to where I wanted to live (not just visit from time to time), by beginning to regularly listen to something larger than myself. By beginning to understand the spiritual principle, “Thy Will Be Done,” does not mean, “If I am good enough, pious enough, the Divine will grant me what I want.” Rather, it means surrendering and being willing to do what God leads me to do and being willing to really listen to guidance, without any guarantees of success or comfort or even doing what I want.
Many of us might complain, “But I listen and I don’t hear anything.”
Not true, says medical intuitive Caroline Myss in an interview at integralnaked.org. She asserts that most people are already abundantly intuitive but spend their time trying to deny it. “I am now beginning to believe you are so intuitive, that’s the source of your misery. You’re so intuitive you’re imploding, so you try to numb yourself to it instead of going with it. Every choice most people make is to block that level of timeless guidance.”
My personal bridge began to include a stronger dedication to regular practices that dissolve the blocks to the guidance that Myss assures us is right here, right now – and I know she is correct. And dedication to practices that help me remember what I hear, for I’ve noticed that when I do allow guidance through, I can forget it within a nanosecond.
The wisdom traditions offer us thousands of physical, emotional and mental practices to choose from to help us hear past the ego-mind’s chatter, past our fears and stories.
What’s important is to find practices that work for you – not what you think you should be doing but what you are naturally drawn to – and then commit to regular practice.
The guidance is always available, right now and you and I don’t need to go to graduate school in contemplative religion to access it but we do need to train the mind to get out of the way. Mindfulness meditation, yoga asanas, contemplative prayer, sacred mantras, and silent meditation retreats are excellent examples.
The insights and guidance come and are probably coming to you even as you read this article. Your next responsibility is to remember to pull the gold from the human sea of forgetfulness. Devise or adopt a system to help you remember and use it weekly – or even daily.
My favorite way is to use mindful questions and journaling.
Examples of a mindful question include, “What does my body need in this moment?” or “What am I resisting right now?” or “What am I afraid of?” and “How is that fear shaping my choices today?” I use a few mindful questions each week to stay on track with listening and remembering, and to stay out of pushing and willing. Combined with hatha yoga, spiritual reading, meditation and raising a nine-year-old, it all helps to keep me in the sweet spot of listening and surrendering – most of the time!
In the end, we must “proceed at the pace of guidance,” as spiritual teacher and writer Christina Baldwin says in “The Seven Whispers.” We can only hear as much guidance as our bodies and our minds can bear.
Let yourself move at the pace that is right for you – because there is no final goal to reach, no big payoff. It’s all right here, right now!
The unique path of your life is being revealed to you, one step at a time, right now. Gently tell your mind to get out of the way and allow yourself to listen. I’ll join you.
About Author: Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author, creativity coach, and retreat creator. She has created several Inner Organizers to help you hear and remember guidance – enjoy the free and beautifully designed downloadable versions at http://www.comfortqueen.com. Her newest book is “Comfort Secrets for Busy Women,” which contains tons of mindful guidance and questions, not to mention the Comfort Queen herself!