I spent some time with a good friend recently who was struggling with some issues in his life. We chatted about philosophy. We chatted about interesting ways to see the solution he desired. We pondered what love would do. We tried to look at all the possible solutions to see what is the best one.
But in the end, I had to admit to him that although I do go through these thought processes, eventually, I rely on prayer/guidance to make my decision.
It’s scary to admit, because for some reason, someone relying on prayer can be seen to be “small-minded” or simplistic and it certainly is not what “intelligent people” would do. However this is only the perspective of Western world. In the East, to rely on prayer for guidance is an assumption if you are a spiritual person. It is considered a sign of strength. A sign of deep spiritual faith and connection.
But I don’t live in the East and so I’m always a bit wary of saying that. But when it comes down to it, it is truly how I make my decisions in life.
The Breast Lumps:
This began with my illness back in 1999. Finding breast lumps growing in my breasts only 4 years after my mom had passed to breast cancer is enough to make someone consider a different way of navigating through the world. My brain had led me this far. And I found myself in a space of not having any idea what to do. I had finally come to a place where I knew that my mind was not going to be able to find it’s way through – and I had a husband and two children that I wanted to live for… Something big had to change.
And so, with the help of “Jim”, the guru/teacher who appeared just at the right moment, I worked through my struggles with trusting something other than my brain to make decisions. There were many “dark nights of the soul”, but in the end, with a miraculous healing where the lumps literally came out the side of my breast, I could not turn back. There was nothing I trusted more than inner guidance. My brain could be used for many things… but not making life decisions. There was just no going back. (The whole story is in my book “What If You Could Skip the Cancer?”.)
Raising My Children:
After I was sick, one of the biggest things that changed was how I made decisions around my children.
Before this, everything was based on “external input”. Were they happy, sad, angry? What could I do to make them feel better? What could I do to make them the most well-rounded humans? I felt I was responsible for giving them the ultimate foundation for a successful life. I read books. I listened to what others were doing. I did everything that I felt was the right things to do.
And I was exhausted and beginning to resent these little people whom I loved the most in the world.
But after I was sick, listening within for guidance had become my new normal. I trusted it more than I trusted my brain.
So here I had these unique little humans in my care. Each one was so incredibly different. In the physical world, they couldn’t have been more different in stature, temperament, everything. Then I would imagine just how rich they must be “under the surface”. What karma are they needing to play out? What past lifetimes are still playing out in this life?
How could my limited brain possibly figure out what the best answer was for them in any moment? I couldn’t mentally know all of the information and variables. Therefore, my brain just couldn’t know the right path for them. And so, this was probably the place in my life where I applied my faith totally in listening within for guidance. In all other things, I could handle if I screwed up. But not with my children.
And so, when they were struggling with each other, personal things, school, whatever, we would sit on the couch and I would stare at them and listen within (It’s funny that it was only after I was divorced and interacting deeply with people other than my children and their friends that I realized how uncomfortable people are when I look at them with this really intense look that I get. Everyone thinks I’m reading their mind or mentally giving them heck. But I’m not. It’s just easier to connect and find the truth this way.)
On that couch, answers would come out. Solutions appeared. Magic happened when we listened… And my kids grew up thinking that this was totally normal – that the answer might be “this” and we don’t really know why. We just know that “this” is the answer.
Later, I would discover tantra. The spiritual aspects of tantra fit right in with everything I was experiencing. To fully blend trust and listening within in every day life. To look at the world with mystery and newness and not allow our brains to limit us and tell us what we are seeing. To live without labelling and limiting the world around us. Yes, this is what I had been feeling for a long time.
And then to add this mystery and inner guidance to intimacy was what I had been seeking for a long time. I knew that there was a way to be closer in a way that was hard to describe. Love, connection, trust just didn’t describe our real potential. It took integrating the mystery of who this other person really was. It was being open to new possibilities all of the time. It was choosing things outside my comfort zone. It was connecting in ways beyond physical or even emotional. I knew it was possible. I just didn’t know how to get there.
And how did I get there?
Again, I struggle with saying it this way. Maybe I was raised in a time of evangelical preachers who seemed to be leading the “sheep” to a place of salvation (that generally meant big money from their pockets). Maybe I am still a little angry at the hypocrisy within so many of the churches and religions that use this kind of language. I don’t know. But the truth is that I don’t know how else to describe it that is true.
Because, bottom line, when I don’t know what to do, I close my eyes and ask for guidance. All of the time.
I do it when I’m making love.
I do it when I’m having a difficult conversation with someone.
I do it when I’m speaking to a group.
I do it when I’m booking plane tickets.
I do it when deciding whether to teach a workshop.
I do it when I’m taking a course and I feel called to sit with “those” people.
I do it when I’m writing this article.
It is literally how I move through the world.
Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling:
I am writing this article because I find that so many of us reach a “glass ceiling” in our growth. We have read the books. We know the theories. We understand the chakras inside and out. We have read the inspirational books. And yet, there are very specific areas in our lives that we just can’t find peace and happiness within.
Maybe it is our primary relationship. Maybe it’s our job or our relationship with our parents or children. Or maybe we just don’t know why we are here on this planet. Maybe we don’t know what to do next.
And the challenge is that our brains just won’t find the solution. Our brains hold lots of great data and problem-solving algorithms. But they also hold all of our fears, pain, hurt, karma, memories and patterns. And so, these underlying issues will always cloud our ability to make decisions. Or at least, they will limit what is possible in the future because there is a high likelihood that we will simply repeat something we are familiar with.
It is developing this other muscle of listening within that will make the glass ceiling disappear.
Things I couldn’t have planned:
I think what gives me the most strength in making decisions this way is that miraculous things happen all of the time when I “listen”. In this moment, I am defining “miraculous” simply as something that is unexpected, inexplicable and doesn’t seem to logically lead from previous events.
I have been in a heated argument with seemingly no good ending possible. But when I remember to breath, release the emotions that are holding me so angry and ask for guidance, words will appear in my mind with the promise that if I say them, a new way will open. They aren’t words that I want to say (otherwise I would have already thought of them). They are normally much more humble than I would have chosen in that moment. And yet, when I muster the strength to say them, healing happens and the love is deeper than before.
I have been making love and come to an uncomfortable (or boring) place and unable to do or say anything to change it. Then, I close my eyes and ask for help or guidance and either my partner will do something they’ve never done before, or I will get a vision of me doing something different, or words will come into my mind. I will follow these words or vision and suddenly the intimacy is returned and we are flying into a world that is brand new and wonderful.
As I travel, I seldom know where I am going next. Sometimes my mind steps in and tries desperately to plan ahead and “be prepared”. But it just doesn’t work. Recently, I was planning a rendezvous with my man to meet in Florida for a wonderful week together. I was in Italy at the time and my brain was desperate to get our flights finalized. But there was a time-gap of a few weeks just before I was flying to see him and so I wouldn’t know exactly where I would be. But I forged ahead and booked my flight from Gatwick to Tampa. This was the responsible thing to do. It was a trans-atlantic flight after all…
But I didn’t know I would be getting a call from an old friend who wanted me to attend a workshop with him in Phoenix and I would end up flying to Boston, then Phoenix and then landing here in Bahamas with my dad and step-mom, now needing a flight from Bahamas to Tampa… and wasting the Gatwick flight that I had bought only because I forged ahead and didn’t listen within…
The Real Reasons Why:
One reason that I trust inner guidance is that it just simply feels right. My heart and mind is settled when I have listened. It’s like I am flowing with the river and not against it, beside it or somewhere else completely.
The second reason is that I feel like I’m accessing a “larger database” of information to make a good decision. I feel like my mind is so limited. But when I add prayer and listening within, my database just expanded almost infinitely.
But the biggest reason I trust is that my life ends up in places that I could NEVER have come up with in my mind. I have had experiences, serendipity, and absolute incredible things happen in my life that there is no way I could have planned. And I don’t think it is because I am particularly interesting or different from anyone else.
For some reason, my life took me to a place where I had to listen within – or die.
And so I listened. And I would never want to go back. Life is just so much more interesting, surprising and peaceful this way.