Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Deepening the Connection with Our Inner Self

February, in the United States, marks a time to focus on loving others. When we celebrate Valentine’s Day we send love and kindness to our partner, children, co-workers, and/or family. With this attention on loving “others”, I began to think about the importance of loving Self. In Art and Soul Lab's February newsletter I address supporting our creative self. In today's post, I highlight connecting with our inner self – the wise, knowing part of ourselves.

Previously this month, my colleague Karen Paquin wrote about “Intuitive Listening”, those times when we act on a “hunch” without realizing why, yet on an instinctual level we know what we need to do and by following and not questioning our intuition we gain insight or support in a way that our conscious mind could not have, or might have dismissed.

How do we take our intuitive listening to another level and find ways to consciously focus on our inner guidance system? In his book “Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness”, Erich Shiffmann explains the benefits of connecting with this deeper part of our self:
“Inner Guidance…is your deepest knowing made conscious… The spiritual teachings you'll receive from within your silent mind will be the source of new meaning in your life…Spiritual teachings will come in the form of inspiring and guiding you in your thought, speech, and behavior, they will come in the form of clarifying insights and sudden inspirations, creative ideas, intuitive knowings, life circumstances, people and situations, hunches, premonitions, desires, attractions, and spontaneous impulses.”
By connecting to what is inside we enhance the quality of our lives; by knowing our truths we may follow them and ultimately live richer and more meaningful lives.
“To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.”
So how do we intentionally get to the gems of wisdom that we have inside? How do we connect to and support those parts of ourselves that we don’t always listen to, so that we may experience our internal “spiritual teachings”?

We know that eating well, exercising, taking time to go inward through yoga or meditation, and having a spiritual practice can help us to better hear our inner voice. What about other ways to listen? Here are a few ideas:

  • Take time to reflect – How often do you stop and really allow yourself to think about where you would like your life’s journey to take you? What about thinking about past actions in relation to future desires – what has worked, what hasn’t? How do you really feel in a day? Are you happy? Satisfied? Reacting or Responding? 
“Reflection is looking in so you can look out with a broader, bigger, and more accurate perspective.”
~Mick Ukleja and Robert Lorber
  • Consider taking yourself on a “self-discovery journey” - Take a trip on your own solely for the purpose of being with yourself to hear and listen to what you want and to what makes you feel passionate and inspired. You could do a “pilgrimage” or visit an awe-inspiring location like Alaska or an event like the season when humpback whales birth. Invest in a journey where it is just you, with you, exploring you. This doesn’t have to be an expensive trip, or even a literal trip as Cat Caracello pointed out in a recent email:
“Journeys can be experienced in the flow of dreaming, making art, accessing imaginal states and engaging creative connections. Journeys are a way of exploring what is sensed, felt, intuited, experienced, known and unknown.”
Be alone with yourself and your thoughts, pay attention, listen and see what you discover. As Tbird Luv suggests, “Stop the doing and be present in your being”. Sit and reflect, ponder, consider, allow ideas to bubble up, review the past in a loving way.
  • Try SoulCollage® - SoulCollage® provides an innovative way of connecting to your inner self through images. By intuitively selecting images, creating cards from those images and then interpreting the cards’ meanings, you can discover aspects of yourself that beckon and wish to be seen, but haven’t consciously blossomed. Engaging in creative expression gets us into a zone that allows for ideas and insights to bubble up. 

In the coming months we will explore other ways of deepening your connection to "self" I hope that you are slowing down enough to really listen and hear, taking needed time to reflect and consider, and doing the work necessary to feel great and have a sense of purpose and vision.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom:
Select one of the modalities suggested above and try it! Let us know how engaging in one of these activities inspired you or supported you. Leave us a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Intuitive Listening

An important feature of engaging your inner wisdom is paying attention to what you know at your core and engaging it on a conscious level.  However, sometimes we can listen on an unconscious level.  It's called intuitive listening and basically, we do things without really understanding why we do them - trusting your gut.  At some point, if we consciously engage our inner wisdom (that core), we realize we have done some intuitive listening, because as we become consciously aware of our thoughts and actions, we connect the dots between unconscious and conscious ones.

You may have heard "intuitive listening" used in a variety of ways, perhaps likened to body language, tone of the voice, and other non-verbal communication signals.  I would argue that picking up on those types of signals is perceptive listening, but not intuitive, because you're doing it on a conscious level.  Others describe intuitive listening the way Chantel and I present engaging inner wisdom, by opening yourself up and being receptive to what's going on around you and inside of you.  Again, that makes it conscious and not intuitive.  If you type 'intuitive' into Google, here is the definition you get:  using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning.  That is why these definitions of intuitive listening are not accurate, because they are being done consciously.

Following on the defined meaning, I present intuitive listening as being something we do without understanding why.  At the same time, that undertaking will be beneficial to us at some point in the future.  Many of us will automatically think, "Well, I have done a lot of stupid things in my life that I've learned from and haven't repeated.  I've made the links."  That is not exactly it.  Let me give you a personal example, so you can see the difference.

My first recognition of intuitive listening happened about three years ago.  My daughter and I were making friendship bracelets and I chose blue and black as my colors.  These are not colors I would ever choose if I thought about it, but for some unknown reason, these were the colors it had to be and I worked frantically to finish it, though I had no idea why.  An hour after I completed the bracelet and tied it around my wrist, my brother called to tell me that our mom had passed away.  As I hung up the phone, I looked at the bracelet on my wrist and realized what the colors meant to me - black was mourning, blue protection.  I took a deep breath and smiled, knowing I had made the bracelet to help me manage my mom's death.

Not only did that bracelet, which I call a Tied Totem, help me deal with her passing, it set in motion the creation of one of the tools that I use in my retreats and with my coaching clients.  In fact, I have developed an entire color system relating to emotional characteristics and traits that I use not only to create the totems, but in a few of the creative exercises I lead.

Another similar instance happened last week.  After several months without one, I felt it was time to wear a totem again, though I couldn't say why.  I chose green and purple, representing focus and strength, respectively.  The day after I made it, someone I love very much received very good news at work, ensuring he will have a job for as long as he wants it.  I, however, have been struggling with my career not growing as quickly as I'd like, so not only did the totem remind me that I am strong enough to be happy for his success, but also that I have a plan on which I need to focus for my own professional well-being.

Now that I have shared my intuitive listening story with you, I hope that you can think of a similar experience you've had, where something you've done without conscious reasoning has benefited you and that you'll feel comfortable sharing it with us.  If you can't think of anything, here's your chance to give intuitive listening a try.

Practice Engaging Your Inner Wisdom
Let's practice trusting ourselves when we don't understand why we are doing something.  Keeping in mind the meaning of intuitive, (using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning), over the next two weeks, if you have an urge to do something innocuous or a little out of character, but you aren't sure why, just go with it and see what it unleashes in you.  Let us know how it goes.