We are told that if we only think hard enough, long enough, in a straight enough line, that we will have our answers. That we should be able to answer all our questions through critical thinking and mental searching. Sometimes, this is true. Making decisions about which route to take through rush hour traffic, about which t-shirt to buy given your budget, about which cell phone plan to buy into are all great places to use the analytical and the thought-producing mind.
But the mind is a really lousy place to answer questions about the spirit.
The thought-producing portion of the mind (called the manas in yoga/Ayurveda) is a lower portion of the mind that is designed only to spin thoughts. There is a critical thinking aspect to our mind also, which helps us to digest and incorporate knowledge, which helps us learn, assimilate and organize information. However, both of these parts of our brain analyze linear and past-time information during thought processes; they are not brining in new information. So many clients come to me asking the big questions: “What is my purpose in life? What am I here to do? What is the big picture of my life?” And they bemoan the fact that they can’t “think” their way to an answer, and that the answers to their questions are non-linear and spiritual in nature.
Most people come to me and say that time and time again they’ve used critical thinking to come up with answers to big questions….and only ended up back where they started. Answering life’s big questions through the thoughts will only take you back to where you started. Because the thoughts spin past experiences, cultural and societal norms and the fears of our ego and our survival, they will almost always put you back on the path well-traveled, offering you a mundane answer to an expansive question.
Yesterday, I was walking in one of my favorite forested parks. There is one trail that loops around the whole park, and this is where most people walk. Most people do not step off the beaten path and do not know what is beyond eye and ear shot of the looped path. Finding answers to spiritual questions by using the analytical mind will always put you back on the main loop — which ends at the parking lot, right where you began. If you want to discover something new, you have to step off of the beaten path and let your spirit — your internal guidance system — work for you.
This can be scary, because sometimes your internal guidance system will lead you to a deep, dark part of the forest where it seems like no one has trod before. You follow your inner guidance deep into the woods, around in seeming circles, unsure about where you’re going. It requires faith in the process of life, faith in something bigger than your thought-producing mind, that you will end up with new answers and a new way of knowing yourself and world.
Recently, women especially have been coming to me with big questions. They’re finding that their old answers aren’t working for them anymore. They look back fondly to the “good old days,” where comfortable patterns lead them to success, to joy, to happiness and to contentment. But those same patterns aren’t working anymore, and the more structured they get in their methods, the less anything seems to hold together. Why this shift? Why aren’t the old methods working anymore?
There’s been a lot of talk about a planetary shift, the big 2012 and moving us into a new era. There is a great article written by my colleague Holly RePenn talking about what this shift means astrologically and I invite you to read it here. From what I gather from my intuitive work with clients, especially the self-aware, is that we are starting to feel the effects of this shift, and it’s not comfortable. It’s like riding a horse backward and blindfolded. It’s like scaling down a cliff in the dark in your underwear. It’s a shift away from the more linear ways of doing things, away from structures of organization that have us moving forward on a linear time scale, and into a way of deeply feeling our way through the world. It’s a shift away from independence above cooperation and into radical self acceptance and love for the self that fosters the compassion necessary to embrace difference. It is a shift that requires self-love and graciously held personal power as a method for compassionately working with others to create cooperative communities.
In my sessions with clients, I look intuitively into their energy body and act as a facilitator between the information in their spirit and their conscious mind. I point out to them what their spirit is saying, help them notice what their blockages are and to start the healing process from an energetic or vibrational level. (For more about what this healing process looks like, watch this.) I feel extremely blessed to be shown the beauty and resiliency of the spirit as depicted to me through pictures, stories and flowing information. The images I see are different depending on who I’m looking at and how they are energetically wired, but what I’ve found interesting over the past several months is the similarity in themes between my regular clients.
One client showed me the frustration that she experiences as she draws her creative energy through her body but then runs it through the cultural norms and structures currently in place through running a business. The picture shows me that her creative energy and insight, which is huge in its ability to transform and manifest, short-circuits the system every time, leading to “failure” of her ideas and projects. It’s like she’s supplying the power to run an entire house through a 20-watt system — it short-circuits every time. But not because there’s anything wrong her power, it’s that the system that is supposed to support it is too small, too limiting and too weak.
Another client showed me this complex way through which her healing power ran. She ran her healing energy through this narrow beam that acted kind of like a pressure washer to her clients. They received healing, but were pushed really hard in order to receive it and she was exhausted by the end of the day. Her powers to heal were much more like the ocean — a huge pool of reflection and contemplation that allows us healing just to be near it — than they were a pressurized, finely directed tool. In her efforts to fit her gifts into what she considered an acceptable structure, it was like she was trying to fit the ocean through the hose of a pressure washer. How uncomfortable.
I could talk ad nauseam about other images, but the bottom line is this: this new way of being seems to mean that we reconsider our structure for living, for knowing and for working. The time is over for everything to be linear, for every idea to fit into a box or to analyze our way through the world. The work that is needed has changed. The work is not about busily going out and doing The Top Ten Things That Successful People Do. The work is to learn how to understand and accept yourself on a cellular level. Not just the level where you say, “Yeah, people tell me a lot that I’m a healer, and I can see that.” That is intellectually understanding and loving yourself. Can you experience the same level of understanding and love for yourself throughout your whole body? If not, you’ll end up back in the parking lot. This is the work. This is the path. It’s about not skipping over the self-help before you help others. The self-help will help others, the same way that a light house aids those ships out in the fog. You don’t have to be the navigational system on the ship, blinking your lights and flipping your levers, you only have to be the light that guides others in. But in order to be the light, you must be sure of your ability to BE light, to hold your light and that requires being, not doing.
So how do we tap into this new energy and start to create our own systems for working in the world? How do we create new structures as we break down the old ones? How do we move away over-emphasizing the analytical and instead using the analytical as just one of a myriad of useful tools? Here are the tools I’ve found most useful for helping yourself define a new way of being in a new and ever-changing world:
I can almost hear the concentrated sigh of all my readers and the internal whine. “But I’m not good at meditating! It doesn’t work for me because ________ (fill in every excuse you’ve ever heard here).” Meditation is an important part of the process because through meditation we access the higher parts of the mind — that which are connected to the spirit and to the great Universe. Through meditation we can come to learn what stories our thoughts are telling us that we are believing. We can learn to become the witness to our thoughts and our belief systems and we can start to attempt to move out of patterns that aren’t serving us. Through mindfulness, a non-judgmental observation of the present moment, we observe from the emotions we have regarding a certain system or belief system, observe our judgement or resistance for changing those, and consciously step into a new way of being that works for us. Through meditation we can also get in touch with what our true desires are — they may be hidden underneath all the “shoulds” in your life, and quieting down those “shoulds” are a good way to figure out your deeper desires. New to meditation? I have several free guided meditations right here.
2. Observe Nature
Take a walk in nature and choose to separate yourself from the spinning thoughts in your mind, instead connecting to and observing the natural world around you. Notice how beings in nature can do so much without actually doing much at all. Take a tree, for example. A tree just stands and grows. But one tree can provide an ecosystem for hundreds if not thousands of organisms. It provides us with shade, with clean air and with a place to climb or tie a slackline. A tree teaches us how to bend in the wind and dance through a storm. Or notice the healing power of rivers or the ocean — the ocean isn’t active, but it’s extremely effective and healing. Rivers, through patience and consistency, move mountains. What else can nature teach you about the questions in your soul?
3. Start a Self-Affirmation Practice
Because this shift is asking for radical self-love and self-acceptance, you have to get on your own team. And not just intellectually, you must learn to love every bit of yourself on a cellular level. Starting a self affirmation practice is one of the quickest ways to remove blockages, clear emotions and get you on the pathway to believing in the power of you. My only stipulations for an affirmation practice is that it’s done out loud and in the mirror, everyday, and that it is spoken in present time, as if you already believe what you are telling yourself. For example, “I love you — you are enough exactly as you are today” or “I am beautiful.” When you practice self-affirmations, it’s natural for the little voices of fear and ego to pop up and say, “Really? You love that mole growing on your shoulder?” Come back to the mindfulness you practiced in your meditation and observe those little voices without giving them power over your process.
4. Treat Your Body with More Respect
Your body is your vessel. The only one you have. Why spend a lifetime fighting with it? Find ways for you to honor and celebrate your body everyday. My favorite ways are through mindful or sacred eating, and daily self-oil massage (called abhyanga). In mindful eating, you recognize that eating is a sacred act — you’re asking the molecules in your food, which have been around since the dawn of time, to become part of the tissues of your body as you take your meal. Take a few deep breaths before you eat, then eat slowly and consciously, tasting each bite and finishing when you’re full. Eat undistracted and with respect for the process. Daily self oil massage is a way to calm your nervous system while giving yourself self-affirming love. With each stroke on the body, affirm, “I love you.” For more info on the process, check out this video.
5. Learn to Hold the Vibration of Your Highest Goal, Without Having to Fill in the Details
In order to make shifts, our body follows the rule of, “What manifests physically first had a more subtle component.” This means that all shifts happen vibrationally, or through the energy body first. Shifting our vibration is like tuning instruments — we set our energy body at the right pitch or tune, the vibration that we want to be at, and we allow our life to tune up to that vibration, bringing our body up to vibration through linear time. The spirit operates without time or space, but the body has to move through linear time. This meditation, when done regularly, helps us shift quickly and more easily. The key is that we don’t have to know what the shift will look like, just what it would feel like to have radical self acceptance and love. Don’t know what it will feel like? That’s okay too — just use a color or note to represent it and practice this consistently. Here’s a video meditation especially for this purpose.
6. Ask for Guidance
We all need help from time to time. When we can’t find joy, can’t find that part of us that is tied to Spirit, can’t remember what we’re here to do — that’s because we’ve covered by blocking energy. We’re overburdened, sticky and blocked. We need to remove the blockages in order to feel our connection to All that Is. There are a myriad of healers to help you through this; find one you resonate with. If you want to work with me, here’s how you can.
We are shifting. Times are changing. And I don’t believe that we can define a paradigm in which we are only barely just dipping our toes into. We cannot even begin to define the new paradigm while still having our foot in the old one — we’d only use a definition seeped in the past and the same structures and linear configurations that keep holding us back. I don’t know what the future will look like or what it will hold. What I do know, what Spirit shows me day in and day out, is that we have to stop overlooking the Self. We must come home to the Self (the self as both gracious self-esteem and the Self as Spirit) and fall in love with the Self. From that place, standing gracefully in our own power rooted in love will we be able to answer the deeper questions of our soul and to compassionately hold space for others to do the same.