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.
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