Learning to follow our inner guidance

 

We all have a quiet inner voice that gives us pointers and advice. We can also call it inner guidance, or the voice of the heart.

It’s perhaps not so important to know where it comes from. Is it a knowing that goes beyond what I – as a human being – can know? Does it come from experience? Does it come from the wisdom inherent in the body and passed down through the generations?

Is it the whole of who and what we are using any and all sources of information to arrive at a “yes”, a “not now”, a direction, a warning, or an impulse to do something?

What form does our inner guidance take?

As suggested, our inner guidance can take many forms. It can come as a sense. A voice. An image. And I am sure many other ways depending on the person and situation.

It can be a “yes” or “not now”. Or it can give us an idea, a direction, or a message for what to do or where to go.

A simple way to check in with our inner guidance for a yes or no

There is a simple way to check in with our inner guidance. I like it because it’s simple, practical, and can be used in almost any situation.

I say to myself I can if I want, and I want to X, and then check with my body. Is there a relaxation? A relief? Or tension? Contraction?

I then say to myself I can if I want, and I don’t want to X. Again, I check with my body. Is it more relaxed? A sense of relief? Or tension? Contraction?

A relaxation is a yes and tension is a no.

For instance, I say I have been invited to a social event and I am unsure if I want to go.

I ask myself: I can if I want, and I want to go to this gathering. I notice a gentle relaxation and softness in my body.

I then ask: I can if I want, and I don’t want to go to this gathering. This time, I notice a slight tension.

So here, my inner guidance tells me to go.

It’s helpful to practice this in small and daily life situations. That way, we get to know the process and learn to trust it through experience.

A more spontaneous way to follow inner guidance

This can also happen in a more spontaneous way.

Just now, I had the impulse to remove my neck warmer. It was just a brief thought and one that wasn’t consciously generated. I did a quick check and I couldn’t see any reason not to. So I removed it.

I make a point out of following these simple impulses right away, after doing a quick check to see if there is a good reason not to. It’s a way of saying to my own system and life: Yes, I appreciate these messages and take them seriously.

Noticing what stops us from following our inner guidance

Sometimes, my inner guidance is clear and the thought of following it brings up fear in me. I may see that it makes sense. I may recognize that there isn’t a good reason not to follow it. I may see that a sane, healed, and grounded person in the same situation would follow it. And at the same time, the thought of acting on it bumps up against fear in me.

In these situations it’s good to notice the fear and listen to what it has to say. What are the fearful stories behind it? What do I find if I investigate it?

This way, following our guidance brings with it a bonus: Identifying and investigating fears that may prevent us from living a life that feels deeply right to us.

Should I always follow my inner guidance?

In my experience, the inner guidance tends to give accurate information even if it doesn’t make sense at the time.

At the same time, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate what’s inner guidance and what’s inner “noise” from beliefs, fears, wants and so on.

That’s why I tend to listen to the inner voice, see if there is a good reason not to follow it, and then follow it if there is no good reason not to.

Does it give an answer once and for all?

Any no is really a “not now”. It may change, and sometimes it can change within a relatively short time. It’s good to check in with it.

What’s the characteristics of the inner voice?

When it happens spontaneously, it is – in my experience – simple, clear, and quiet. It’s there if I later check in with it on the same issue. (Although it can, of course, change if the situation changes.) It can be temporarily drowned out by fearful feelings and thoughts. And it is, in itself, free from fears and shoulds.

Photo by Samuel Chenard on Unsplash

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Intuition

 
Here are a few things I have noticed about intuition:

When I follow my intuition in small things, it becomes a habit and I learn to trust it more. That makes it easier to follow it in bigger things or when fear makes it more challenging.

Following my guidance or not is an experiment in either case. If I do it in this situation, what happens? If I don’t do it in this situation, what happens? Make a note of it.

When I am guided to do something I am scared to do, a few things may happen.

(a) I may follow it anyway, in spite of the fear.

(b) I may meet the fear, question the scary stories behind it, find kindness and love for the fear, and then see if it’s easier to act on my guidance.

(c) Or I may follow the fear and not the guidance.

In either case, I get to see what happens.

What I have noticed when I follow my guidance or inner knowing is that things tend to fall into place. And if I don’t, then the opposite often happens.

I am using intuition here synonymous with inner guidance, inner knowing, or the small quiet voice.

Surrender to guidance

 

Surrender can be a surrender to love, to Spirit, to soul, to what’s here.

And it can also be a surrender to guidance. A surrender to the still quiet voice. A surrender to the heart.

It’s a surrendering of what thought thinks it wants and needs, to instead following the inner guidance. It’s a shifting of allegiance.

And embedded in this is an invitation to notice and inquire into any fears and shoulds stopping me from doing this.

When do I choose my conscious wishes, fears and sholds over the still quiet voice? What are these wishes, fears and shoulds? What do I find when I inquire into them?

Is it really worth choosing fear over love and guidance? What happens when I choose fear? What happens when I chose love and guidance?

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Quiet voice

 

Over the last few weeks, I have woken up with a quiet clear voice nudging me to ask a particular person for assistance. Since it didn’t quite fit with the preferences of my personlity, I have ignored it and put it off as much as I could, until today when I woke up with the same voice and finally acted on it.

I am familiar with that quiet clear voice, and when I act on it, it always feels right even if it does sometimes go against the preferences of my personality.

The voices of beliefs have a certain quality of compulsiveness and fear. Yet this voice has a very different quality, and it’s advice is always sane, wise and kind even when it seems a little odd at times, and when I act on it, the outcome is sane and kind as well.

I also notice that if I don’t act on it, it returns over and over until I do, and if I put it off for too long and miss the opportunity to act, there is a sense of something being off.

I know that many traditions talk about this quiet voice. As long as it seems sane, wise and kind, even in a conventional sense, why not act on it?

And if I notice reluctance to act on it, I can notice the belief that prevents me from doing so, and inquire into it to find what is more true for me.

Following ones heart, and discomfort

 

I went to a mini-retreat today with a woman Adya has asked to teach. Among her many very helpful pointers was this one about following ones heart and discomfort. It is slightly elaborated on from own experience.

If the small quiet voice (my intuition, heart) tells me one thing, and I do something else (usually because of a strong belief), there is naturally discomfort. I am out of alignment with what I know, somewhere, is the right choice of action in the situation. In my experience, this feels like the depth is wrong, even if the surface looks OK. The discomfort here is not only a reminder to follow the voice, but also comes from wearing away resistance to following the voice – the beliefs preventing me from following it in certain situations.

Also, when I do follow the quiet voice, there can sometimes be discomfort. I follow the voice, the action clashes with my familiar identity, and there is discomfort. As above, this discomfort comes from wearing away of identities and beliefs. But here, the depth is experienced as OK and the discomfort is more on the surface.

This is all happening within and as what we are, in both cases. It is all perfectly OK. It is just that following the quiet voice, and allowing identifications to be worn off by following it, is usually more fun as who we are – as human beings in the world.

Waiting for a clear YES

 

We are renting out a part of the house, and the process of finding someone is a reminder for us in waiting for a clear YES. Our experiences in the past is that when there is a clear YES there from the beginning, it works out very well, and if there is not… if something is a little off in the beginning, then that something continues to be a little off throughout. Our hesitation turns out to be a warning signal we didn’t take seriously enough.

I find that to be true in general in my life. When there is a clear YES, it typically works out very well. And when there is not, something often continues to feel a little off.

So I have learned, whenever possible, to wait for that clear YES, even if it means waiting a little longer than what my personality would ideally like. It is worth it in the end.