Module 7: Cultivating Your Inner Guidance

 

I’ve observed over the years that deeply fulfilled and successful people tend to march to the beat of their own drums. They listen to themselves. They respect themselves. They trust themselves. They realize that they are the experts and authorities on their own lives.

Many of these highly successful people speak openly about being led by inner guidance. Although their personalities and accomplishments are different, they experience success the way they want to experience it. And they listen to – and follow – their inner guidance.

I recognized early on that inner guidance is not a one-size-fits-all experience. It speaks to each of us in unique ways, yet we can consciously cultivate our ability to hear and recognize it. I’ve committed to doing that in my life and, as I have, my life and work have become richer on all levels. Because helping clients recognize their own inner guidance is central to my work, I’ve learned how to teach others the fine art of tuning in. So let’s get started.

There are many names for inner guidance, such as intuition, direct knowing, or “the still, small voice within”—but I like the term inner guidance because it’s broader, reflecting the fact that inner guidance flows through multiple channels.

Inner guidance, as the name clearly conveys, is guidance that arises from within you. To be more specific, it comes from the part of you that always has your best interests at heart, the part of you that wants to grow and evolve. It comes from your Large Self.

Your Large Self doesn’t make choices based on fear or defensiveness. Your Large Self calls you forward to create, experience, share, and learn…it’s all about fulfillment.

Inner guidance is communicated in any of the following ways:

  • Your heartfelt desires
  • Your emotions
  • Your felt sense of yes/no (intuition)
  • Your impulses
  • Direct knowing

You have unique ways of experiencing inner guidance, but in general it falls into these broad categories, so let’s look at each one.

Heartfelt Desires

This is so fundamental it’s easy to overlook: what we want is guidance. Our heartfelt desires are an expression of who we are, calling us in a particular direction. If being called in a particular direction isn’t guidance, then I don’t know what is!

Of course we’ve explored our desires in Module 2, so I won’t repeat that here. But I wanted to share a personal story with you to illustrate how fundamental what we want is to our inner guidance system.

Years ago, when my business wasn’t growing as quickly as I had hoped it would, I considered selling or leasing my house and, hopefully, finding a less expensive place to live. It was an idea I came up with when I was feeling resigned and, yes, more than a little depressed. (Hint: our best ideas don’t generally arise when we are depressed.)

The former CPA in me went about gathering information and developing spreadsheets with various what-if scenarios. I even mentioned my idea to a couple of friends. Within less than a week, one of those friends called to tell me that another friend of hers was temporarily relocating from Europe to the U.S. and was looking for a home to rent in Wilmington. She thought mine might be perfect for him and his wife.

I froze. I didn’t feel ready to act that quickly. Yet part of me fell prey to a way of thinking I’d picked up early on in my New Age wanderings, and it’s one I’ve witnessed in many of my clients that tends to confuse rather than help them. Here’s what that part of me thought: “This must be the Universe’s way of telling me what I’m supposed to do. After all, this opportunity practically fell into my lap!”

Let me get right to the heart of the matter here. Many, many things will show up in your life—some quickly and easily, some…not so much. And it’s very true that the more you live from your Large Self—the more centered and clear and at peace you are—the better your life flows. Things you want do show up with greater ease. (If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have created this course.)

But the kicker is that you have to actually know what you want in order to recognize those things.Not everything that shows up is guidance. The guidance arises from within, as you check to see how you feel about what shows up. If you don’t acknowledge and accept what you want, you have no basis for feeling what is in alignment with who you are and what isn’t. Honoring what you want is what distinguishes being “in the flow” – in your flow – from being adrift.

When I got that call from my friend, I felt my heart sink as she talked about how perfect my house could be for her other friends. I kept thinking, “But my house is perfect for me!” I recognized shortly after I hung up the phone that I didn’t want to sell or lease my beloved home. I wanted to stay in it and grow my business. So that’s what I did.

Of course, you need to learn to support what you want, as we discussed in Module 4. (Another way of saying that, is that you need to learn to vibrate on the same frequency as what you want.) You need to learn to navigate your fears and doubts so they don’t derail you, which we will explore in Module 8. But the fundamental point I want to make here is that acknowledging and honoring what you want is following your inner guidance.

Now it may be true that, even when you know what you want, you have the experience of not getting it and discovering that what unfolds instead is better than what you wanted (or thought you wanted). That’s because your desires are continually evolving, or because your Large Self had something better in mind for your evolutionary fulfillment than you consciously recognized. But that doesn’t mean you should dismiss what you want. It means you’re growing and expanding and you have ongoing opportunities to get better and better at recognizing the voice and desires of your Large Self.

In my example, it could have been true that selling or leasing my home was my next “best step” for growth and evolution. But I still would have had the responsibility to pause and go deeply within in order to discern that.

So don’t give your power away to “the Universe.” The Universe—Life, Divine Intelligence, Source—speaks and lives through you, as You. That’s why learning to listen to and trust yourself is so essential.

Emotions

As your heart’s desires call you in particular directions, your emotions let you know whether you’re on or off course. As an appendix with this course you have a document called The Instrument Panel, included here with permission from Lola Jones. Take some time to examine it and really grasp the message it conveys:

Emotions are indicators of alignment with your Large Self. (The one who is trying to guide you toward fulfillment.) Simply stated, the better you feel, the more in alignment you are.

The simplest way to use emotions as guidance is to recognize that when you’re feeling badly, you’re focused in a way that is out of alignment with what your Large Self wants for you. In the example I gave above, when my friend called to tell me about a potential renter for my home, my heart sank. I felt terrible as my thoughts veered off into, “Well, I guess this is what the Universe wants for me….” Feeling badly was my signal that I was somehow focused in a way that wasn’t aligned with my heartfelt desires. I was ignoring what I really wanted.

One of the most powerful practices you can take on whenever you’re experiencing an emotion on the lower end of the Instrument Panel, is to ask yourself, “So…what do I want?” In the example about my house, the answer was simple and clear. Sometimes you need to give yourself more time and space in order to get clear about what you want. The key to answering that question always is to focus only on you—what you want to experience, how you want to feel—not on what you think someone else should do in order for you to have what you want.

Here is another example to illustrate what I mean. When I was in the corporate world, I was unhappy much of the time. I felt frustrated by the way the company was run and didn’t agree with many of the decisions that were made. I misdirected a lot of my focus toward the senior executives—if only they would think and act differently, my job would be a lot more satisfying!

So on the surface my frustration seemed to be about them. I thought I wanted them to change, but what I really wanted was to feel understood and appreciated, to feel I was making a difference, to feel congruence between my values and the values of the company I worked for.

Had I been able to simply focus on what I wanted—how I wanted to feel and the experience I wanted to have—I would have started moving in that direction and would likely have left the company sooner than I did. Instead I kept focusing on what was “wrong” with where I was, and I felt stuck because I believed that’s what work was supposed to be like. None of the people I knew were happy in their jobs. One of the executives was even fond of saying, “If it was meant to be fun, they wouldn’t call it work.”

It was because of those beliefs that I felt bad. That’s the value of negative emotion—it alerts you that you’re not seeing things the way your Large Self sees them. At that time in my life, my Large Self wanted me to pursue work I loved, work that called on my natural talents and desires. My belief that I had no choice but to stay in the corporate world was out of alignment with that desire. That limiting belief gave rise to the negative feelings, and the negative feelings were my signal—my guidance—to slow down, go within, and find my deeper truth.

We explored how to recognize and dissolve limiting beliefs in Module 5. This module and its examples emphasize that your emotions are a key element of your own inner guidance, telling you when you’re out of alignment with your Large Self. When you feel negative emotion, at some level you believe something to be true that is no longer true for you.

Now again, don’t go digging for limiting beliefs! You don’t have to dig. Your emotions will let you know when something needs your attention. Simply intend to be more aware of your emotions, and be willing to pause when you’re feeling badly and ask what they may be telling you.  In particular, ask what they may be telling you that you now want. That’s a way of cultivating inner guidance; having the willingness to ask, and the willingness to allow the answers to arise from within, rather than trying really hard to figure it out.

In the next module you’ll learn how to navigate through the emotions themselves without getting stuck in them. For now simply intend to become more aware of how you feel, and be willing to explore the relationship between how you’re interpreting things—your stories—and your feelings. There is a simple journaling exercise at the end of this module to help you with this.

Your Felt Sense of Yes/No

On a more subtle level than emotions is an intuitive form of guidance I refer to as simply a felt sense of yes or no. If there was such a thing as technical precision in this exploration of inner guidance, it could very well be that the felt sense I’m talking about is really just another expression of our emotions telling us when we’re aligned with what we want and when we’re not. But because I think that, for many of us, the experience of a felt sense is a bit different than the experience of what we know as emotion, I like to highlight it separately.

I’m sure you’ve had times when you sensed something wasn’t a good choice, but you did it anyway—maybe so you wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings—and sure enough, it wasn’t a good choice for you. Hopefully you’ve had the opposite experience as well, when you followed that inner sense and things unfolded in an expansive, affirming way. That’s why our intuitive felt sense exists: to guide us in making empowering choices that serve us well.

And now I’m going to state the obvious: The best way to cultivate this sense is to pay attention to it, which has two related but distinct benefits.

  • What you pay attention to is what expands in your life, so the very act of paying attention to the felt sense invites more of it into your experience.
  • How you experience your felt sense—what it really feels like—is unique to you. By paying attention you learn to recognize its unique expression, which means you can recognize it sooner.

At the end of this module are two simple activities to support you in recognizing your felt sense of yes/no. Their purpose is to help you become very familiar with both your inner yes and your inner no. They feel quite different! My inner no often feels like heaviness or tightness in my stomach. My inner yes feels calm, spacious, and warm.

Explore and experiment with your own felt sense. Be as light and curious as you can, trusting that you have this sense and can recognize it easily. In fact, become more aware of how often you use it and how reliable it is. The more you relax into this, the easier and clearer it will become.

Impulses

Impulses are ideas for action that arise in the present moment, often unrelated to your plan for the day or what you’re currently focusing on. They’re generally very clear and specific, such as an impulse to call a certain person or to take a different route home from work.

An impulse may also show up as a recurring idea, something that comes into your mind again and again and just won’t be ignored. These impulses aren’t necessarily as narrow and specific as the in-the-moment ones, but they’re very clear.

For example, when I decided to create a guided meditation CD, I was told that the most cost-effective path would be to find the equivalent of “stock music” that could be downloaded for free, or for a nominal charge, to use as the backdrop to the spoken meditation. Secretly I wanted original music for my CD, but I didn’t know where to begin to create that outcome, so I started down the path of searching for affordable, prerecorded tracks on websites that had been recommended to me.

However, an impulse to contact a certain person kept popping into my mind whenever I thought about the CD. (And especially when I felt numb after listening to countless tracks of music I didn’t like on those websites.) This person was a musician and composer whom I had only recently met. I barely knew him, so I initially ignored the idea to contact him. I assumed I couldn’t afford to hire a musician to create original music for a CD. But the impulse persisted, so I finally acted on it.

It turned out, serendipitously, that creating music for a meditation CD was a dream of his, and he was delighted to work out a flexible payment arrangement with me in exchange for the experience. I love the CD we created and have received enormously positive feedback on the effect of the meditations. (You can download them directly from www.mysolidground.com for only $9.95!)

Impulses such as these arise from your Large Self, who sees and knows things that your linear mind simply cannot. They are specifically meant to guide you toward an idea or path you wouldn’t have figured out based on your current beliefs and assumptions. In fact, they serve as a fast track for dissolving limiting beliefs, because they leapfrog you over whatever path your limiting beliefs would have you follow.

The challenge with following impulses is, of course, in recognizing them. And then trusting and acting on them. Let’s look at learning how to recognize impulses. An inner-guided impulse is unexpected but not outrageous. It’s a nudge in a particular direction. And what distinguishes an inner-guided impulse from a distracting or resistant thought is, not surprisingly, how it feels.

Much like your inner yes and inner no, your inner-guided impulses have a particular feel to them. Or in some cases, it might be more accurate to say they have almost no feel: They’re neutral. They’re not desperate or harsh or critical in any way. They don’t leave you feeling resigned or discouraged or frustrated. They’re simple and clear and don’t carry what feels like inordinate risk. This is a good thing, because it makes it easier to practice trusting and acting on them.

Here is an example of a situation in which you could experience different kinds of thoughts, and how to distinguish the helpful inner-guided impulse from the reactive or resistant thoughts that could keep you stuck—or move you in a direction that isn’t right for you, right now.

Let’s say you’re working at a job you really don’t like, and you’re heading into a particularly busy and demanding time. Your days are filled with activities that deplete you, and the thought, “I should just quit this job!” shows up again and again.

You pause to notice how you feel as you think that thought. You feel intensely frustrated and even trapped, as if there is only one option and it’s extremely high risk. Wisely you give yourself a time-out, and find ways to soothe and nourish yourself.

A few days later, you have an impulse to call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. She is thrilled to hear from you and tells you about some part-time work she has available in her business—work that really interests you. You tell her you’re in your busy period right now but agree to meet for coffee and just explore the idea of working with her when your schedule eases up. Just knowing you have a possible path for moving into work you love lifts your spirits and helps you move through your busy time without desperation.

In this example the recurring thought, “I should just quit this job!” might have seemed like an inner-guided impulse, especially since it was a recurring one. But the feeling around it (not to mention the word should) was the indicator that it was an expression of frustration, not an actual impulse from your Large Self.

The impulse to call the friend, which arose when your mind was calm, was an intuitive impulse functioning as guidance. Acting on it created a feeling of expansiveness and possibility, which is the perfect vibration—state of being—for creating something new.

In a different set of circumstances, the unexpected thought, “It’s time to leave this job,” might have come through when your mind was quiet. Without any emotional charge – such as a feeling of fear or desperation – that thought could signal a true impulse to make a change.

Again, the key is to become attuned to how you feel when the impulses arise. As you become more familiar with how your impulses come through, experiment with acting on them rather than ignoring them. (Remember, if they seem outrageous or highly risky, they’re probably not coming from your Large Self.)

Direct Knowing

Direct knowing is exactly what its name suggests: guidance that shows up in your awareness as something you need to know in a simple, direct way. For many years I considered direct knowing to be the ultimate form of guidance—clearly superior to all others—and was envious every time I read of someone who seemed to have such a clear channel to Divine Intelligence that their guidance came through in actual sentences. Could it get any clearer than that? I wanted that level of clarity for myself.

The more I craved it, the more it eluded me. And the more it eluded me, the more frustrated I became. And the more frustrated I became, the less able I was to recognize guidance in any form.

I’ve had many clients who were similarly frustrated by wanting to experience direct knowing but not seeming to have access to this kind of guidance. So, in case you’re just as eager and just as frustrated, let me jump in by sharing a few insights about direct knowing that have been tremendously helpful, and that I wish I’d recognized and embraced sooner than I did:

  • Direct knowing is a wonderful form of guidance because it’s so clear. Yet you must cultivate the inner trust to act on it, as with any other form of guidance. Because the helpfulness of any guidance is realized when you act on it, direct knowing is only as helpful as your willingness to trust it.
  •  Look at the Instrument Panel we examined earlier. You’ll see knowing at the very top, which means the higher your vibration, the greater the likelihood of experiencing direct knowing. The best way to cultivate direct knowing is to focus on ways to feel good and lift your vibration.
  • The more you appreciate and cultivate the other forms of guidance you receive, the more you create an expectation and experience of being guided. As you follow your guidance, you align more with your own natural flow and rhythm. Your vibration rises, and you develop the calmness and clarity of mind through which direct knowing can be recognized.

In other words, direct knowing isn’t a superior form of guidance—it’s the form that becomes available to you as you lift your vibration. The more you relax into where you are and cultivate the guidance available to you (through your desires, your emotions, your felt sense of yes/no and your impulses), the more easily your vibration will rise and other forms of guidance can come through.

Although your experience of direct knowing will be uniquely yours, one thing that helps everyone cultivate their personal experience of it is the conscious creation of a fertile inner environment for direct knowing to occur. And that fertile inner environment is a calm, clear mind. For many, a regular meditation practice is essential, but formal meditation is not the only thing that works. Anything that grounds and relaxes you, and quiets the busy thoughts in your head, is helpful and effective.

One of my most striking experiences of direct knowing occurred when I was still working full-time in a corporate position, but knew in my heart of hearts I wanted to leave. I was uncertain of the timing and I was also uncertain about what, specifically, I would do when I left. So I stayed on, awaiting further insights and guidance.

One morning I was exercising vigorously in my living room. I paused between songs, my heart pumping and my breathing strong and deep, and walked to the window of my living room. My mind was totally clear. I wasn’t thinking about my job, and I wasn’t thinking about anything else, either.

The view outside my living room window captures a small portion of the city skyline, and I could see the tops of the downtown office buildings very near my office. Although it was a clear day, in my vision it appeared that the buildings were covered in mist. Then suddenly, the mist evaporated, and in my mind appeared a single thought: “Now is the time to leave.”

The thought had arisen in the middle of a spacious emptiness, with nothing preceding or following it. There was a feeling of peacefulness, and the thought itself was quiet and crystal-clear. I knew with 100% certainty that it was guidance.

As with other forms of guidance, your ability to recognize direct knowing as guidance will improve with practice. And as always, you will be well served by becoming very attuned to how you feel when thoughts arise. You may even experience direct knowing some other way, such as through imagery or sensing things beyond words.

Intend to open to your own form of direct knowing, and consciously cultivate a calm, peaceful mind. And relax about all this! Continue to notice, appreciate, and act on guidance you receive in any form, and don’t worry if your inner guidance doesn’t come through with the specificity and clarity of language you might think you need. Just keep acknowledging what does come through and be willing to experiment with acting on it.

I’ll share one more personal experience with you that I now find amusing, although it wasn’t terribly amusing at the time. I was going through a difficult period with my business, and felt I needed to make some serious decisions about whether to continue as an entrepreneur and, if so, in what direction my business needed to go.

I knew I needed to connect deeply with myself in order to make those decisions, so I devoted extra time each day to deep meditation. I intended for guidance and then I let go into a deep meditative state, morning after morning.

Several profound insights came to me during that time, but the one that stands out in my memory now is the simple word, “Relax.” It showed up time and again during my meditations, when my mind was totally clear and I wasn’t trying to figure anything out. It felt good and right…yet after my daily meditation was over, I would dismiss it as being simplistic and unhelpful. I was looking for something more along the lines of, “Develop this course, write this book, call so-and-so, step up your Facebook activity” …you know, clear and specific instructions about what to do.

I didn’t appreciate until much later that relaxing was the single most important thing I needed to do! The guidance was clear and specific, but I discounted it. I now know that being relaxed is essential to being open to guidance, insights, inspiration, and opportunities.

Something else to consider

There is something else I have found to be tremendously helpful in creating an ever-more fulfilling life. As I contemplated where to present it in this course, I realized it could be seen as a form of guidance.

And that something is willingness.

We explored willingness in one of the practices suggested in Module 1, yet I wanted to mention it again here with an emphasis on how it relates to inner guidance. Willingness helps us soften resistance and move in the direction we want to go. It releases energy rather than confining it, the way “should” often does.

Willingness actually helps us become clear about what we genuinely want (and what we don’t), and it also helps us move toward what we want in a kind and supportive way, rather than being stopped by fear or discouragement.

So often we encumber ourselves with plans, actions, and obligations arising from outdated or ill-fitting expectations about what we should do or be. We’ve lost touch with our own alive, inner core of brilliance and creativity that is calling us to a more fulfilled life. In a sense this whole course, and certainly this module, is designed to support you in reconnecting with that inner core and living your life from its center.

And one of the simplest ways you can connect with your core in any given moment, especially when you have a choice to make, is to pause and feel for the presence—or absence—of willingness.

Willingness is the path to follow when you don’t have a strong sense of “yes” or “no.” In many cases it nudges you into action, so that you can experience enough of something to determine if it feels intuitively right.

Here’s a simple example:

A client of mine, whom I’ll call Annette (not her real name), wanted to find or create work that allowed her to set her own schedule. She was introduced through a mutual friend to someone who had a business based in environmentally-friendly products and said she was looking to expand her team. Team members had almost complete autonomy in setting their schedules, and they could decide whether they wanted to work full or part time.

During and immediately after that initial conversation, Annette didn’t have a strong sense of either “yes” or “no” with respect to that opportunity. The idea of environmentally-friendly products appealed to her, and of course so did the option of setting her own schedule. But she wasn’t sure if this specific opportunity “felt right” to her. She checked in with herself to see if she was willing to attend an introductory meeting about the business, and she felt willing. So her willingness became her next step.

At the meeting, Annette had a clear sense of “no” about the opportunity and so turned it down. She felt good about the clarity she’d experienced and realized that, had she said “no” initially, she would likely have wasted time and energy second-guessing herself. And had she said “yes,” she would have entangled herself in something that was not a good fit for her. By simply pausing, slowing down, and letting her willingness determine the next step, she enabled herself to make a choice that honored her true inner guidance.

And one more thing…Is it fear, or is it guidance??

This could be one of the most challenging experiences in learning to recognize, trust, and act on inner guidance: an inner resistance to doing something. Is the resistance a guided inner no, a message from your Large Self that this particular course of action isn’t right for you (or isn’t right, right now)—or is it a form of fear that is limiting you? After working with clients for years, I can tell you that the most common response to experiencing resistance is criticizing themselves for procrastinating, which then leads either to paralysis or forcing themselves to just do it.

Neither response is particularly effective or fulfilling.

Resistance is always an invitation to slow down and go within for answers. There are no formulas for figuring out what your resistance means at any given point, but one simple question can be helpful in gaining clarity:

Am I resisting what I want, or what I don’t want?

Remember, what you genuinely want is guidance. So if you’re resisting what you want, then chances are good the resistance reflects fear arising from false beliefs about what might happen or what is possible. Go back to Module 5 and explore ways to shift those limiting beliefs. (And in the next module, you’ll learn how to navigate through the uncomfortable feelings that arise when those false beliefs are present and active.)

If you’re resisting what you don’t want—there you go. The resistance itself is a signal, reminding you that you’re headed in a direction not aligned with who you really are.

Of course, even with this question the answer may not be immediately clear. An example from my experience is that I want to grow my business, but I also have tremendous resistance to going to networking meetings—something all the experts say an entrepreneur has to do in order to grow his or her business. So am I resisting what I want, or what I don’t want?

In this particular example my resistance was so strong I decided to challenge the assumption—belief—that my business could not grow unless I went to networking meetings. That’s been a lot more fun and has inspired some creative thinking. It’s taken my focus away from thoughts about what I’m doing wrong and redirected them to what I’m currently willing and able to do to grow my business. It has softened my resistance because I’m not seeing networking as the holy grail of business success.

At this rate, I could end up going to a networking meeting just because I want to, not because I have to!

Which brings me back to the main point I want to repeat about resistance: It is always an invitation to slow down and go within for answers, rather than pushing yourself through. Pushing is depleting.

That doesn’t mean you have to wallow for days or weeks without taking any action, it just means that a simple pause is called for. Look for the underlying assumptions giving rise to your resistance, and ask if they are supporting you.

Just asking the question, “Is this fear, or is it guidance?” will serve as an invitation to your Large Self to provide some clarity.

Be willing to be surprised by the answer.

And finally…

Just because you may have made choices in the past that didn’t reflect your highest wisdom, doesn’t mean you must now resign yourself to a less-than-satisfying life. Your Large Self is ever-ready to nudge you toward greater happiness and fulfillment. The guidance is still there, changing as your circumstances change. Just keep listening.

But what about…?

You haven’t really addressed guidance that speaks to us through external circumstances – the perfectly timed song on the radio or the friend who calls out of the blue and says exactly what you need to hear. Why not?

I decided to focus this module – which is already the longest one in the course! – on forms of guidance you can specifically cultivate and practice on your own. And even more importantly, this particular form of guidance is one that only becomes meaningful when you’ve developed the other ones – particularly a deep acknowledgement of what you really want and a felt sense of yes or no.

In other words, external cues reflect our inner vibration. The question is, “Is what’s showing up a reflection of what my Large Self wants for me, or is it reflection of a fear, limiting belief, or mixed intention I may be holding?”

That’s why I wanted to emphasize the experience I had when I was considering selling or leasing my house, and within days a prospective lessee had shown up. Had I naively assumed that anything showing up must be “guidance,” I would have resignedly moved out of my beloved home. I’m so glad I didn’t do that!

My responsibility was to pause and see whether the external event resonated with my inner sense of “right for me, right now.” It did not. Instead, it reflected a fear-based belief I held that I had to sell my house in order to survive. Being able to distinguish between the two was an inner guidance skill I needed to further develop.

I’ve seen far too many people simply assume that whatever shows up in their lives is “meant to be.” And it is, in the sense that it is a perfect reflection of their mix of vibrations. It reflects “what is” – but it does not necessarily reflect what is calling them to their next experience of growth and fulfillment.

Without a clear sense of what feels intuitively right for you, external events cannot be interpreted as guidance. Focus on developing the deepest relationship with your Large Self that you can, and the meaning of external events will become clearer and clearer.

Pause now to listen to the “HomeStretch” audio recording.

Activities & Practices

To reinforce your appreciation of desire as guidance:

Revisit what you wrote in the activity about opening to your heart of hearts in Module 2. Give yourself permission to add to or change it in whatever way feels right to you now. Ask yourself, “How might I allow what I want to guide me right now?”

To explore how your emotions may be guiding you:

Think of a situation in your life that generates negative emotion, then consider the following:

What is the story I’m telling myself about this? Where is my attention focused? What do I believe to be true, about myself and what is or isn’t possible in my life, that might be out of alignment with how my Large Self sees things? What is it I really want?

To gain additional perspective on feelings as guidance, read the PDF, “Let Your Feelings Be Your Guide.

To cultivate your felt sense of yes/no:

In your journal, write about a time when you had a clear sense of yes about something. Intend to roll back to that point in time and recall specifically how you knew whatever you were considering was right for you. What did your yes actually feel like?

Now write about a time when you had a clear sense of no about something. Again, intend to roll back to that point in time and recall specifically how you knew whatever you were considering was not right for you. What did your no actually feel like?

Intend to turn up the dial of your awareness of your felt sense of yes/no. Whenever you sense something is or is not right for you, pause. Ask yourself, “How does this feel? Where do I feel it in my body?”

Begin acting more frequently on your felt sense of yes/no. Start small, so you don’t trigger a fear response about misreading signals and making the wrong choice. Just get in the habit of pausing to consult your inner sense about what is right for you, right now, with respect to everyday decisions such as what to eat for dinner, what to wear, whether to call a particular person right now, etc.

To practice identifying and following impulses:

Consider an area of your life where you want to experience greater joy, satisfaction, or fulfillment. Is there a recurring idea about a step you could take that you have, until now, ignored? Pause to sense how you feel as you consider the idea. Do you feel neutral or peaceful or maybe even excited? Or do you feel anxious or worried or resigned? Does the idea seem doable or does it seem risky? On the basis of your feelings, do you sense this idea is a form of guidance for you to act on? If so, how might you support yourself in acting on it?

On an ongoing basis, simply intend to notice more of your impulses and act on them when it feels safe, neutral, or good to do so. Check in with yourself after a couple of weeks and consider what your experiences have been.

To cultivate direct knowing:

Intend to listen more closely and deeply to yourself. Play with receiving and interpreting all other forms of inner guidance (e.g., acknowledging what you want, exploring what your feelings might be telling you, honoring your impulses and felt sense of yes/no). Explore ways to quiet and calm your mind, such as:

  • Meditating
  • Exercising (especially rhythmic movement)
  • Walking or being in nature
  • Becoming absorbed in a sensory activity such as cooking

Large self journaling – Go direct to the source of your inner guidance! Actively, intentionally communicate with your Large Self in your journal. Set aside time on a regular basis to sit with a pen and journal (or the writing technology of your choice), an open mind – and a sincere expectation to connect with your Large, wise, loving and magnificent self.

I find it helpful to start with a question, such as:

What do I most need to remember right now?

How can I see this differently?

What is ______________ (current circumstance or person) reflecting back to me right now?

How am I growing though this?

Where can I focus right now in my life to create even greater (ease, fulfillment, fun, etc.)?

Write your question down, then pause, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Simply intend to access the most loving and helpful guidance you can, then pick up your pen and start writing. If words come quickly, fine, write them down. But if not, simply wait. It’s okay to be thoughtful. You’re actually learning to think the way your Large Self thinks.

At first you may simply reiterate things you’ve read or heard that inspire you, or tell yourself what you want to hear. That is perfect! Remember, what you want and what inspires you are your guidance. Keep practicing, and over time you’ll open up further channels to wisdom you didn’t know you had.

To practice willingness

Ongoing

Decide to make willingness a key criterion for the choices you make as you move through the next week or so (and beyond!). You might want to post a few notes with the question, “What am I genuinely willing to do?” in key places as a reminder. Keep checking in with yourself to sense your level of willingness to do, or not do, what you’ve committed to doing. At the end of the week, write in your journal about what willingness has revealed to you about what you truly want, and any shifts in direction you might want to take.

For a project

Consider something you genuinely want to make progress on or complete that moves you in the direction you want to go, but you’ve kept putting off. Rather than trying to figure out why you’re procrastinating, which focuses your attention on your “stuckness” and fosters a sense of something being wrong with you, ask, “What might I be willing to try? What small step am I willing to take to get started?” Then…do it. And keep asking.

To explore resistance

If there is something you feel strongly resistant to doing, pause and get curious. Ask, “Is this fear, or is this guidance? Am I resisting what I want, or what I don’t want?”

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