(Or: When your soul is calling)
When I was a teenager, one of my favourite songs was ‘The Head and the Heart’ by Chris de Burgh (please don’t stop reading here!)
As a soul-searching teenager, the song reflected very familiar feelings for me as it tells a tale that most of us know only too well, one where the brain is telling us to not do something, but the heart is telling a different story.
Fast forward into the present, after years of exploration and self-discovery through yoga and Ayurveda and I now understand that the answer goes beyond this narrow, black and white choice.
It has become clear to me that when choices are presented in terms of right and wrong, it is so easy to overlook other options. These days I find that I don’t have to decide between head or heart.
Instead, I need to find a different place from which to make my decision.
A key factor in any decision is whether it will enhance our health and happiness. The pursuit of safety and contentment is an intrinsic one as these needs relate to the root chakra. It is here that we aim to feel at home with whatever we do. However, to live only from fulfilment of root needs is to block us from the higher goal of self-realisation.. This is why yogis commit to a certain rhythm of eating, resting, spiritual practice and reflection on higher states of being. To live at the level of
fulfilling only basic needs and desires also has the effect of limiting us to mere knowledge rather than wisdom.
Ask yourself how often you have considered doing something, only to be stopped in your tracks because of the mind’s reasoning that will be ‘too dangerous, not trustworthy, will cause sleeplessness etc.
Both fearful emotions and wishful thinking can lead astray and adversely affect our judgment. In the language of the koshas (layers of perceiving the world), Vignanamaya Kosha (the intuitive body) is one of the layers that is the closest to our core self (often referred to as the bliss body). Looking at it from this ‘location’ perspective, it is clear that touching intuition requires that we move
inwards rather than operating from the outside.
Intuition will often tell us something that is not consistent with knowledge based on external studies, science or logic.
I have noticed that on occasions when I have ignored my intuition, I later
realise that IF I had followed it, the outcome would have been so much better. As a result, lately I have come to really value intuition, both professionally and personally. It now see that it requires me to step a bit deeper into trust and connection and the knowledge that we are more than just our minds, body and emotions.
Recently, I read that intuition can act as a catalyst in our individual lives, helping us to become more certain, clear and content. However, it is also the case that intuitive choices tend to also benefit others. In the end, intuition isn’t New Age thinking. It's ancient wisdom that resides in all of us. Intuitive knowledge is based on a different and deeper understanding of the universe than conventional knowledge. When we tap into wisdom we stop being trapped in dualistic thinking, the kind of dualism that tells us we have decide between the head and the heart.
How to move into wisdom?
One of the exercises I learned when starting out as a health coach, was that I have to put aside the teacher (the knower) in order to start listening more deeply. That is, I had to stop assuming I knew in order to put myself into a position of wonder. When I adopt a position of wondering, I open up to what comes up instead of assuming that I already know. This allows an openness to the mystery, an attitude of ‘what will grow out of this?’.
‘The practice of Deep Listening cultivates self-listening as the foundation for listening and communicating well with others. Heightened awareness of the subtleties of one’s own body, speech, and mind is the foundation for genuinely receptive, accurate, and compassionate listening and speaking. If enough people in our culture can learn and practice these inner skills, a shift from highly dysfunctional to highly functional modes of communication can happen, offering hope that we can enjoy healthier, more fulfilling relationships with the people in our personal lives and all those with whom we share community, country, and planet.’ (David Rome, Mindful, 2010)
Everyone has a deep desire to be heard. By hearing others, we not only start to become more self-aware and able to love ourselves, but we also find that we are able to touch on the deeper layers of self-consciousness.
Here are some practical ways to start to move into wisdom::
☞ Practice experiencing yourself first – when you are reading a text like you are doing now, how is your body reacting?
☞ Can you be with someone and truly start caring and deeply being with them, beyond their words?
☞ Make your ear your heart – listen for what are the person hopes, fears, dreams and longings are – instead of only listening to their words.
☞During my yoga health coaching program we often practice deep listening by being with what the other person needs. Join the communication this summer by enrolling to our Sunday Souls Sessions.
☞ In my online coaching group CREATING SPACE, we often practice deep listening by being with what the other person needs. If you want to get a taste of deep listening and how the community can bring you to greater heights join the communication this summer by enrolling to our Sunday Souls Sessions.