It is a deep and courageous practice to begin to trust our inner knowing or intuition. We each have had that feeling sense that informs us, “this is right, I don’t know why, but it just feels right”. Other times, there is the subtle feeling that something is amiss or not quite in alignment with our hearts. I have only learned how to feel and acknowledge this deeper inner knowing over the past several years. Thankfully, it’s never too late.
The work is two fold: discerning the dialogue of the ego mind, and being able to feel the deeper inner knowing and more so trusting it. The trust piece is big. Sometimes the intuition arises not as something analytical, but rather just a feeling. The small mind will fight this with what appears to be reason and rational, but be(a)ware, it could just be old, old conditioning. This conditioning not only comes from our own experiences, but those of our parents, our culture, society. The list goes on. That conditioning can drown out what we otherwise feel to be true. To me the deeper knowing often feels like the tiniest pebble that is tossed into a vast ocean, ripples so soft and gentle, barely noticeable, but there nonetheless. Then somehow out of no where comes a speedboat, charging through, noisy, loud and fast, almost unstoppable. On the surface it draws everything around it in its direction. We get lost or taken for a ride for sometime, until things settle and we listen again.
I don’t intend to discount old ways or patterns. They very likely served and helped us to move through challenge or difficulty, though at some point they are no longer needed. Often a knowing or an intuition of what feels right co-arises with a fear. “This is scary and unfamiliar territory with a lot of unknowns.” I have discovered that the feeling of “this is right” will outweigh the “I am scared, I’ll just stick to my current ways”. There is something calling us forward more than that voice that wants to hold us back.
I see this come up often in my parenting. How can I encourage my girls to listen and feel something that is much more quiet and then to trust it? Of course, when they are small they need our guidance. As they grow up, maybe they need less guidance and more just some guard rails to keep them on the path. I often ask my girls, “well how do you feel, do you notice what your mind is telling you and do you also feel what your heart or gut might be experiencing”. And even if they notice the subtle knowing, trusting it is a whole other piece that takes time to build and cultivate. For me this only began to unfold in my thirties and is a continued learning. Prior to that, I was lead more by fear, old stories and difficulties. I carried a sense of being small and not enough. With time this has shifted to “I am enough, I am learning to trust myself and I know I am doing the best I can in any given moment”. That last part is important. As awake as I am to myself and my conditioning, to that extent I am doing the best I know how. This is not to let myself off the hook, but to hold kindly what is. Being critical only encourages the sense of smallness. Being compassionate and kindly discerning supports growth, freedom and grace.
These are just some of things I have been sitting with after a weeklong silent retreat with Richard Miller and Kirsten Guest. I am so grateful for how they held space, offered practice and guidance in such a loving and nourishing way. I trust the seeds planted will be carried forward.