For most of my
life, I created what I wanted from an "I’ll show
them" stance. At some point in my early life, I
decided I wasn't smart enough to accomplish what I
wanted using talent and brains, so I would rely on my
will instead. All I needed was one person to challenge
me, to doubt me, and I was off. When I conceived of my
first book, The Woman’s Comfort Book, and a
friend said, "You'll never get that
published," I had the fuel I needed to get
published, albeit with teeth gritted, jaw clenched. When
the same friend said, "Well, that's nice but you'll
never sell more than 20,000 copies," I sold
hundreds of thousands. When a guy I went to high school
with retorted, "You're a writer? But you never
could spell," I became even more determined to be a
successful writer (but not to learn to spell).
But as my spiritual journey deepened, and I reached
middle age, my desire and ability to create on sheer
will disappeared. When I no longer believed my master
assessment, "I'm not smart enough," the
challenge to prove myself became meaningless. I was left
feeling flat and lost, without another way to create my
list of projects and desires. How would I move forward?
I was in the midst (and perhaps for a long time) of
the classic spiritual journey: moving from creating and
living from ego-mind, that easily exhausted small
"I," to creating and living from the vast,
unknowable inexhaustible "All." I was learning
to access to the deeper well of creativity and meaning.
I had certainly observed this same shift in many of my
coaching clients and retreat participants, and I came to
see it as part of everyone’s essential journey.
I began to build a bridge from where I was stranded
to where I wanted to live (not just visit from time to
time), by beginning to regularly listen to something
larger than myself. By beginning to understand the
spiritual principle, "Thy Will Be Done," does
not mean, "If I am good enough, pious enough, the
Divine will grant me what I want." Rather,
it means surrendering and being willing to do what God
leads me to do, and being willing to really listen to
guidance, without any guarantees of success or comfort
or even doing what I want.
Many of us might complain, "But I listen and I
don’t hear anything."
Not true, says medical intuitive Caroline Myss in an
interview at www.integralnaked.org.
She asserts that most people are already abundantly
intuitive but spend their time trying to deny it.
"I am now beginning to believe you are so
intuitive, that’s the source of your misery. You’re
so intuitive you’re imploding, so you try to numb
yourself to it instead of going with it. Every choice
most people make is to block that level of timeless
My personal bridge began to include a stronger
dedication to regular practices that dissolve the blocks
to the guidance that Myss assures us is right here,
right now – and I know she is correct. And dedication
to practices that help me remember what I hear,
for I’ve noticed that when I do allow guidance
through, I can forget it within a nanosecond.
The wisdom traditions offer us thousands of physical,
emotional, and mental practices to choose from to help
us hear past the ego-mind’s chatter, past our fears
and stories. What’s important is to find practices
that work for you – not what you think you should be
doing, but what you are naturally drawn to – and then
commit to regular practice. The guidance is
always available, right now, and you and I don’t need
to go to graduate school in contemplative religion to
access it, but we do need to train the mind to get out
of the way. Mindfulness meditation, yoga asanas,
contemplative prayer, sacred mantras, and silent
meditation retreats are excellent examples.
The insights and guidance come and are probably
coming to you even as you read this article. Your next
responsibility is to remember to pull the gold from the
human sea of forgetfulness. Devise or adopt a system to
help you remember and use it weekly – or even daily.
My favorite way is to use mindful questions and
journaling. Examples of a mindful question include,
"What does my body need in this moment?" or
"What am I resisting right now?" or "What
am I afraid of?" and "How is that fear shaping
my choices today?" I use a few mindful questions
each week to stay on track with listening and
remembering, and to stay out of pushing and willing.
Combined with hatha yoga, spiritual reading, meditation,
and raising a nine-year-old, it all helps to keep me in
the sweet spot of listening and surrendering – most of
In the end, we must "proceed at the pace of
guidance," as spiritual teacher and writer
Christina Baldwin says in "The Seven
Whispers." We can only hear as much guidance as our
bodies and our minds can bear. Let yourself move at the
pace that is right for you – because there is no final
goal to reach, no big payoff. It’s all right here,
right now! The unique path of your life is being
revealed to you, one step at a time, right now.
Gently tell your mind to get out of the way and allow
yourself to listen. I’ll join you.
© Copyright 2004 Jennifer Louden. All Rights
Enjoy Other Books by Jennifer
Jennifer Louden is a best-selling author, creativity
coach, and retreat creator. She has created several
Inner Organizers to help you hear and remember guidance
– enjoy the free and beautifully designed downloadable
versions at http://www.comfortqueen.com. Her newest book is "Comfort
Secrets for Busy Women," which contains tons of
mindful guidance and questions, not to mention the
Comfort Queen herself!