Posts tagged ‘Prayer and meditation’

Trust your intuition. Listen to your gut

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Trust your intuition. Listen to your gut. That inner voice will never steer you wrong

This is great advice, right? But, how do we know what the inner voice is saying? How do we listen to our guts? How can we tell the difference between our intuition and our imagination? What if the messages we are hearing are just our fear and dread talking?

Notice any commonalities between “intuition,” “gut,” and “inner” voice? They are all internal, are they not? They are all inside and underneath, secluded from the outside, protected from the physical world. In order to “hear” any messages, we are going to have to quiet down, go inside, and listen.

Prayer and meditation are two frequently touted ways to get quiet and seek the interior landscape. When we hear the word prayer, we think of thanking God for our blessings and asking for favors. Another type of prayer draws us out of ourselves so we can go inside ourselves. This type of prayer is known as silence.

 For me prayer and meditation are both valuable and necessary. Meditation is the art of quieting our self-talk and relentless mind chatter. Prayer, to me, is very similar. Prayer is time spent with God, Spirit or Creator. Prayer is time devoted to a spiritual relationship, a relationship that is a mystery to earthly thinking and understanding. When I pray, I sit, close my eyes, and say to that all-encompassing power outside of myself: “I’m listening.” do the same thing when I’m meditating, except when I meditate I concentrate on emptying my brain first.

I breathe slowly in and out, often to the tick of a clock. During meditation, I don’t try to listen. I simply try to be. I attempt to empty myself of this world and its concerns and merely float in space.

Thomas Keating has a technique I’ve written about before. He teaches “centering prayer,” which to me is a form of meditation. He suggests that we imagine ourselves sitting beside a stream of water. When we have an intrusive thought, which is really any thought at all, since all thinking keeps us in our heads, we gently place the thought in a boat, and let it float down the stream. We don’t judge the thought, and we don’t judge ourselves for having the thought. It could have been a beautiful thought or a dastardly thought. It doesn’t matter. It was a thought, and that thought kept us from being able to empty our brains and “be still.” So, we send the thought on. The goal is to empty our minds. This allows us to open our hearts and souls.

    If we want to “hear” our intuition, we obviously need to tune out all the static of daily living. This frequently takes me twenty or thirty minutes. There is a lot of mindless chatter in my head. I’m guessing there is a lot of mindless chatter in your head, too. Many times I never get past the chatter, and my meditation time is spent chastising myself for things undone, criticizing myself for things I have done, trotting out the list of people who have hurt my feelings, or writing a grocery list.

I’ve read that it takes many years, even decades, to learn to go with ease to that spacious, interior place. For most of us, it is a hit and miss proposition. But, we will get better. We will have moments when we are truly still. One beautiful reminder of the reason for trying to learn to be still is the Bible verse: “Be still and know that I am God.” As long as we’re not still, but worrying and fussing about our small, individual lives, we are acting as though we believe ourselves to be God. I believe we must be still TO know God. We must be still not to know OF God, but we must be still if we wish to KNOW God

Prayer and meditation are excellent ways to train ourselves to listen to our intuition, our gut, and the still, small voice that many of us call “God.” Other channels also help us communicate with our deeper, wiser selves. These channels all by-pass that left-brained control tower of the conscious mind. To go deep, we need to get out of our heads and out of our own way

Many of us remember dreams. Dreams come from that deep, non-rational place called the unconscious. Because dreams are non-linear and non-logical, they are often confusing. The brilliant psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung tells us dreams are metaphors where one thing stands for another. He also instructs that in a dream, we play all the roles. So, if I dream that I am cooking for a small, starving child, a Jungian interpretation of that dream would be that a nurturing part of me is caring for a starving part of me. If I dream that, as a woman, I am making love with a man, I am realizing that my feminine and masculine natures and characteristics are melding together and working in tandem.

Other types of right-brained activities are also great ways to reach the unconscious home of our intuition. Art work, physical activity and journaling are examples. To prove this to the doubters among us, just pick up a box of crayons and color a picture. Just color. Don’t judge, don’t organize the picture, don’t think about what you’re drawing, just be a kid and put the crayon to the paper. The result will reveal things that your unconscious wants you to know. A simplistic example would be if you drew a happy scene, a playground, for instance, and found yourself adding a snake to the otherwise “safe” picture. You’d want to ask yourself if someone you’re playing with is a snake – slimy and smarmy, if not actually lethal. Suppose you drew a picture of a family home with cracked walls. What, you’d wonder, are the cracks in my own family structure. Just draw and see what appears.

 One fun assignment is to draw a person in the rain. Rain symbolizes adversity in life and rough times. Is the person you drew getting soaked to the bone with wet hair and feet? If so, your person – YOU –has inadequate defenses and coping skills for dealing with trouble. If your person is under an umbrella or wearing big boots, you are likely to be more capable of handling the hard stuff life brings. You have found ways to protect yourself. This “person in the rain” exercise is an example of a common theme for projective drawings. We project our feelings and emotions onto the page without conscious intent.

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When we journal or do creative writing of any kind, we are also likely to reveal our deepest truths and things which our conscious mind blocks from our awareness. Try writing a short story or even a poem. You might be surprised by what you end up talking about on the page. Unhappy people may write about happy things from the past or things they hope will happen in the future, but studiously avoid the present. People in relationships which are unhealthy and perhaps unraveling may write about death, because intuitively they realize they are in a dead or dying relationship.

Even physical activity is very telling. One of my sons recently started a new job and was asked by the big boss if he was going to be able to withstand all the political pressures. The boss didn’t want him quitting over critical articles in the newspaper. “No problem,” my son reassured the boss. “I’m a marathon runner, not a sprinter.” Tennis players like to stay in the lines and follow the rules. Golfers like to swing for the stars. Baseball and basketball players thrive on teamwork. Boxers and wrestlers are prepared to “knock out” and “pin” opponents. These are just wild generalizations, but they give some idea of how even in the physical activities we choose our deeper instincts and intuitions might be unconsciously revealed.

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So, be still and know that I am God. Be still and know. Be still. Be. Inside each of us is that voice of timeless wisdom and love which is our closest human approximation of God. The word, “Namaste,” means “I see the God in you.” I always think it means I see the God-ness in you, the goodness in you, the love in you. I see the best in you.

            Namaste, my friends.

            Blessings, peace and courage be with you – Susan

            Thanks, Mary Ellen!!

            More support is yours at manyfacesofptsd, manyfacesofdepression, manyfacesofanxiety and pillaroflightfoundation.org

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May 24, 2015 at 12:11 PM Leave a comment


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