The guru thing is a trend these days. Everywhere you look there is an “expert” waiting to guide you through breathing, meditating, work-flowing-ing, time-management skills, living your best life…it’s exhausting really, not to mention slightly lame.
That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with support, guidance, accountability and all the other goodness we get when we gather our army. I have my share of support and my life’s work is offering it to others. But the guidance of others should never take the place of our own intuition.
Last week on the Dr. Seuss Podcast I discussed some of the determinants of emotional and mental wellbeing which included environmental mastery – the degree to which we feel that we have what it takes to manage life – when it dawned on me, that perhaps some may not believe that they are already armed with the skills, the knowledge, the wherewithal to manage their life without more training, more understanding, more internal work, more self-helping, more therapy, more more more.
So this week I wanted to offer some practices that I have learned to help cultivate our inner wisdom. First, I want to give a shout out to the Center for Mind Body Medicine because these practices are informed by trainings and teachings which I recently participated in.
The first is a writing practice called Dialog with an Emotion. As you know I am a huge fan of writing and this exercise is super powerful. Identify a difficult emotion, problem or symptom that you are dealing with and write a dialogue between you and it as if it were sitting across the table from you. The premise here is by dialoguing with the emotion, problem, thing- you give it the opportunity to let you know why it is there, what it is trying to teach you, and what you can do about it . By opening in this way, you give your subconscious an opportunity to speak to you.
Basically, you are allowing your inner voice, your inner wisdom to come forth.
It may seem slightly silly at first, talking to your loneliness or your stomach cramps, but as I said this writing practice is really powerful and you may be surprised what comes up! This week’s HealthBite offers the nuts and bolts of this practice so take a listen before you start.
A second technique is called the wise guide meditation. In this exercise, you summon a wise guide to answer a question, help you with a problem or to offer a message. Spoiler alert, this wise guide also represents your inner voice, your own knowing, your wisdom. A knowing that may be deep within your subconscious and not accessible to you. This practice will help you nudge it out.
Again, I offer detailed guidance in this week’s podcast but here is the skinny…
Get into a comfortable and quiet place and position. Take a few deep breaths in and out of your nose. Try and quiet your mind by focusing your awareness on your breath. It may help to use the words in and out as you breathe to help maintain your focus.
Now envision yourself in a place that is special to you. It can be a real place, an imaginary place, somewhere in nature or in a corner of your home. It doesn’t matter as long as it is comfortable and safe. Experience this place with all your senses- sound, smell, is there a breeze on your skin, is it bright or dimly lit? Try to get a full sense of the environment.
Next focus on yourself in this environment, how do you experience the safety of this chosen place in your body? Connect with that feeling. Is there anything that needs to be changed in order to fully connect or be comfortable? Make that change.
Now imagine a wise guide. This can be imaginary, a real person, an animal, a presence or color- accept whatever comes. Notice the features of this being. How does its presence make you feel? Know that this wise being is here to help you and serve you.
Stay quiet and open, what is this guide trying to offer you? Do you have a question for this wise guide? A problem you are seeking a solution for? If so, ask. Take some time to listen to what this wise guide has to say. When you are ready, you can return to your breath and to your present environment knowing that you can always return .
Consider taking some time to write down your experience. What came up? Did anything take you by surprise? What did this wise guide say or not say, do or not do? What might it all represent? And if nothing came to you, its ok! Be open to the practices and try again.
Last but not least, I want to leave you with this poem by the Chinese Taoist philosopher, Lau Tsu.
Always we hope
Someone else has the answer
Some other place will be better,
Some other time it will all turn out.
This is it.
No one else has the answer
No other place will be better,
And it has already turned out.
At the center of your being
You have the answer,
You know who you are
And you know what you want.
There is no need
To run outside
For better seeing.
Nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being;
For the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart
The way to do
Is to be.
Trust yourselves- you have everything that you need inside you right here, right now and just as you are. Sending you lots of love and I look forward to connecting with you again next week.