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6 January 2012 4 Comments

Life Guidance Series Part 6: Distress as Guidance

Life Guidance Series Part 6: Distress as Guidance

Distress is a call for Guidance. Use distress as a signal. Use distress to awaken yourself to your true needs. Use distress as an alert and a call to action.

Then gently find ways to notice and manage your needs before distress must arise.

Distress is a form of guidance to those who are willing to respond to their needs. It may not be anybody’s favorite form of guidance, but we can learn to use it well when it shows up. Distress alerts us that we need to do something kind for ourselves or make more loving choices.

Intestinal distress encourages more enlightened eating. The distress of feeling invaded invites better boundaries. Distress about situations suggests positive action toward change.

Turning distress toward benefit is a highly positive skill. The skill works much better when we allow ourselves to feel and explore our distress long enough to understand what is actually called for. Learning to attend to the origins and sources of discomfort is crucial.

Turning away from distress before discovering the underlying need can lead to numbness, dissociation, compartmentalization, artificiality, or superficiality. It is important to honor distress. I am not saying wallow in it, just take a careful look and use it constructively. That is the most positive way to handle it.

Here is a funny little example of using distress as guidance: Once I began coughing as a client entered my office. I could not stop. I left the room for water. The moment I left, the coughing stopped. The moment I went back to my office coughing came back. I figured out that the client had toxic energy in his fields. The moment I cleared the energy I was fine. For some years now I get an odd cough if I’m not noticing energy that needs to be addressed.

Loss, prolonged pain, betrayal, and disillusionment are more complicated than mere distress. This kind of intensity can uproot our belief systems until we don’t even know what we believe any more. [link to related Post on Disillusionment.] During difficult life transitions when core beliefs are in question ill-fitting or overly-directive guidance can cause complications. The more intense our distress the greater the call for comprehensive and effective guidance.

We tend to live as if we expect to be the same person from day to day, able to control who we will become over time. When life shakes down the pillars of temporary consistency we discover that our responses to life change in the face of different pressures, circumstances and energies.

New situations, events, and collisions of emotion bring forward fresh and untried self expression. Guidance allows us to use our responses to circumstances and conditions toward our highest good, in partnership with life.

The energies that evoke earthquakes, tsunamis, and world-rocking change also restructure our personal lives. While things we took to be stabile are shifting and coming apart it is important to consider how we might use disruption itself to bring about positive outcomes.

We can use upheaval to help restructure relationships, health, finances, living situations, communities, and global structures. We transform ourselves in the process of doing so.

Here’s a fun quote from the end of a friend’s email: That is my plan –If chaos does not poke its lovely head into my affairs – I will be here.

As we careen into an uncertain future many feel frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, or unclear about how to harness motivation. Motivation can be difficult when we cannot see a clear path or need to alter our goals. Guidance is interaction that assists us to select a meaningful path or purpose with greater clarity and confidence.

These questions may be useful in learning to take guidance from distress:

  • How well do you listen to your distress?
  • How much distress is required to get your attention?
  • Do you respond better to some types of distress than others?
  • What do you need learn to respond with compassion to the kinds of distress you try to ignore?
  • What changes are supported by any disruption you may be experiencing?
  • Do you develop strategies for change or resist change?
  • How does your response to change increase or reduce your distress?
30 December 2011 2 Comments

Life Guidance Series Part 5: What We Love and What We Resist

Life Guidance Series Part 5: What We Love and What We Resist

The simplest and most basic guidance comes from what we love or what we resist.

Attraction and resistance offer an indisputable sense of direction–at least for the moment. The results of paying attention to attraction and resistance vary widely according to our personal values and level of spiritual development.

Let’s begin with the most limited expression of this mode of guidance: Until we develop comprehensive personal values, simply pursuing what we want can mire us in indulgence. Resisting what we don’t like might be like digging in our heels, plugging our ears, closing our eyes, and humming. Where is the guidance in this? Basic lessons can be discovered through the results! When we get tired of the results our values and self-awareness become more sophisticated.

The act of seeking guidance promotes personal development. Contemplating guidance involves looking within to find out what we want or need–and then paying attention to the results of the actions we take in response. This process refines self-observation.

The more we develop self-observation and come to value personal development, the more subtleties we discover through what we love and what we resist.

Love unfolds in response as we take guidance from what we love.

Suppose we love an allergens or someone who treats us poorly. If we take guidance from the results of our experiences we gradually become rooted in greater love for ourselves and learn to treat ourselves kindly. We may come to love feeling clear and healthy. We may love an ideal, a way of life, a cause, or an inner state.

Moving toward what we love shows us which way to go. Even if we make a mistake, if we make it wholeheartedly, we learn much more quickly than we will through half-hearted sampling.

What we resist also provides more advanced guidance as we become more aware. We notice that we resist in others shows us what we still need to learn to love in ourselves. Noticing when we feel uncomfortable allows us to set healthy boundaries, to make decisions that work for us, and to make choices that invite happiness.

Anything we judge is an opportunity for self-exploration, discovery, insight, and release. Repulsion, resistance, annoyance, and hatred all speak to things going on inside that can use some healing–if we open ourselves to listen. It takes guts and love to carry light into those dark corners.

Sometimes we resist what we love or love what we resist. Delving into this type of conflict yields self discovery and leads to greater peace.

Following inner guidance with sincerity establishes a way of moving through life with attention to what is happening inside us. We begin to engage life with meaning and intention. As mastery develops, the habit of attending to guidance becomes more and more fluid, intuitive, and almost magical.

The purpose of Guidance is not to magically avoid what we dislike and attract what we desire but to accelerate learning from our experiences, live with a sense of meaning and navigate our depths. The habit of attending to Guidance leads us to reinvent ourselves. In this process we may discover that what we dislike can be used to serve goals that bring far greater satisfaction than getting what we thought we wanted.

Whenever we give what we love or resist authority over ourselves we lose energy and reduce our personal freedom.

Anything we give authority over ourselves can interfere with our ability to receive and respond to guidance.

What do you give over authority to in your life?

How do YOU take guidance from what you love?

Think about some of the things you wanted passionately some years back and did not get. Are you in any way relieved that you didn’t get them?

23 December 2011 0 Comments

Life Guidance Series Part 4: Values As Guides

Life Guidance Series Part 4: Values As Guides

All guidance exists not just in relation to what we want but to our values. The most effective and pleasing guidance is tailor-made to the values of the individual receiving it.

We seek guidance when we want or need something–or when we value it. Guidance helps us find a way to get what we want, to release wanting it, to revise what we want, or to find something even more important that uproots what we thought we wanted. This includes states we long to experience or sustain, such as strength. clarity, or equanimity. It includes states of release, such as forgiveness, accepting a death, or deciding to change vocations.

Wanting this or wanting that is related to but a little different than having values. Wanting is not necessarily organized. Desire may provides a temporary direction–toward getting IT–but this direction disappears when we have obtained IT or given IT up. Wanting is not rational. We can WANT to be out of distress, for example, and NOT want to do any of the things that reduce distress or avoid the same distress in the future. Reducing distress may require facing a fear, for example, and the avoidable distress may be a hang over.

Values have consistency and congruence over time. They have a certain rationality and support entire collections of behaviors. The desires supported by values are comprehensive, involving lifestyle. If we value being healthy, for example, we begin to organize our lives to sustain health. We return over and over again to principles and practices that promote health.

Values shape life direction. For this reason values are a an important element of effective guidance.

We organize our lives around what we value. What we choose to care about the most and the qualities we chose to express act like a rudder, giving direction to our lives, especially during times of rapid change. Our values determine how we make important decisions.

What we value provides psychological and emotional structure. Lasting values keep us on a somewhat even keel through life’s inconsistencies. They provide guidelines and motivation around which to rally and focus ourselves when faced with challenges.

Sorting out and clarifying personal values is a delicate and powerful aspect of guidance.

In Part 3 we considered “Doing the Right thing” and traditional values. Bringing different value systems elbow to elbow through travel and technology adds a whole new level of complexity to life. There are so many choices! And to make a choice truly viable we need to accumulate life experience to substantiate its validity in our lives.

Values are stands that we take in order to bring forth what we feel is best in ourselves.

A value is not a standard. It is not an expectation for performance. A value is a powerful and intentional preference, a guide, a horizon goal or ideal we continue to approximate. A lasting value is like gravity. It tells us which way is up and helps us land on our feet, or stand up again if we have fallen. When life structures become uprooted core values serve as guidelines.

The movie “Groundhog’s Day” is a parable about values. We may need to take the same actions over and over and over until we are able to respond to life from our core values—and when we do we feel happy, perhaps even when circumstances are unpleasant.

While lasting values make good guidelines, they do occasionally change. When values are undergoing change we may feel a strange, flat sense of uncertainty and even apathy based on not knowing what really matters any more, what will make a difference, how to use our time, and what things mean to us now.

How do we set a course when we cannot see the stars and don’t know which way it is to land, or when landmarks change? Periods like this call for especially skilled and comprehensive guidance.

“When you meet a virtuous man try to equal him. When you met a man without virtue examine your own shortcomings.” ~Confucius

What inner values do you stand by, that you will stand tall to bring forward because they make you who you are?
Do your desires tend to support or conflict with your values?

16 December 2011 5 Comments

Life Guidance Series Part 3: On What Basis Do We Make Decisions?

Life Guidance Series Part 3: On What Basis Do We Make Decisions?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?”, she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.” — Lewis Carroll

Let’s take a quick peek into the way people in the U.S. tended to make life-direction decisions in the past: Up until recently we had a strong, cultural precedent called “Doing The Right Thing.” This societal construct was generally based on Duty and Tradition. These traditions have been the basis of many important decisions. As such, they have been a source of guidance.

Some exceptional individuals developed their own interior sense of values and lived by their personal ethics as a code. Those not bold enough or simply not inclined to work out a personal code did “as family, church or tribe have always done”. There were advantages.

Advantages of Duty and Tradition and acting in accord with Family, Church or Tribe:

  • Easier and feels safer to stay with group consensus
  • A sense of identity as an accepted group member
  • Clear formulas for personal behavior
  • A way to know right from wrong without having to work it out inside
  • A powerful experience of belonging and connection
  • The security of understanding of one’s place in the world

Our faster-paced world offers much more exposure to differing sets of values. Through contrast we have seen how tradition can limit exploration and creativity, and how duty may be overdone and run you into the ground. Many view most beliefs as preferences and choices instead of standing in for Reality itself as it usually did in the past.

The internet, television, and travel shrink our world. As we step away from tradition each individual is forced to assume greater responsibility for whom s/he becomes and what s/he believes. This is a mixed blessing.

If modern life holds the advantages of greater personal freedom and it has become easier to acknowledge and embrace all walks and ways, it also strips us of the identity, certainty and security we enjoyed in more-insular groups based on traditional beliefs.

As life requires greater amounts of personal responsibility for our values and direction we require more personalized Guidance.

The movie “Pleasantville” speaks to the bittersweet longing for a safe and clearly defined world–and the internal conflict we have about embracing freedom from the same rules and constraints that make such a world possible. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend it.

So here we stand on the brink of accelerating global change. Many have rejected formulaic beliefs and their implied restrictions. Many have adopted new beliefs that are equally formulaic and have other restrictions. These restrictions are lesser known because they have not been tried out for generations. Now what?

It is no surprise that Guidance has become more important than ever.

What do YOU do when you feel uncertain about the validity of your beliefs?
How do YOU make decisions when you’re not sure what you want?

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9 December 2011 4 Comments

Life Guidance Series Part 2: Ordinary & Esoteric Guidance, Mastery, Developing Intuition

Life Guidance Series Part 2: Ordinary & Esoteric Guidance, Mastery, Developing Intuition

Let’s break down a few more preconceptions to get to deeper insight.

At first consideration, if ordinary guidance is like business advice, coaching, suggestions for revamping your kitchen, or assistance with a health program, esoteric guidance might pertain to your spiritual life. This distinction proves to be of little use when examined closely.

What about health or business information that arrives intuitively, or “spiritual” advice that is merely a regurgitation of platitudes and the road-weary beliefs of an advisor who has no direct intuitive link to you or to spirit? Now where is the distinction?

Guidance is not about the information but about how you come by it and how it functions in your life. Guidance–with a capital G–implies connecting through intuition. The difference between ordinary and esoteric guidance has to do with the extent to which we are connected with the whole of life when the guidance comes through. And, when we ARE connected it does come THROUGH, because it just pops in, and we are not personally identified as the source.

Guidance is about connection all around. It is necessary to remain deeply connected with ourselves to maintain clarity and discernment while interfacing with energies beyond the scope of personality and accumulated learning.

One of my most advanced spiritual teachers, in my early twenties, bid me: “Always test your intuition against the stark realities of everyday fact.” Taking this advice to heart and making it a solid habit is a Must for anyone serious about developing skillful Guidance. Looking back I see that much of my success in my business and spiritual Practice springs from tending this seed over time.

Developing clear and accurate intuition requires alert, repeated, ongoing verification and extensive practice. In addition to asking questions to find out if hunches are correct, we verify intuition by bringing any information we receive back into everyday life, to see how it works in actual practice.

The line between knowledge or information and intuition is inevitably blurred. This is one way intuition develops:

When we practice an activity with full effort over a long period of time–a business, sport, hobby, relationship, or spiritual practice–the activity can assist with developing intuition. Skills we master over time focus attention.

Committed practice gradually reveals our inconsistencies, moods, states, imbalances, and attitudes, which are reflected in our practice. Self-observation skills are necessary for real mastery of a complex skill because we influence our performance.

When we begin to learn a skill, we first operate from knowledge and effort–trying to get things right. This is primarily a left-brain (thinking, organizing) type activity. As skill develops we broaden our base of knowledge. We may struggle to synthesize between several different approaches.

Next we begin to recognize patterns. We start to recognize exactly what is going on in the moment as we pay close attention to our craft. Now we begin to move less from memorized techniques and more from actual feedback with our environment.

As we become more confident the clunky mental processes of effort melt into the background. Mastery, fluidity and expression emerge from the compost of experience, and learning becomes more intuitive. We are now using parts of the brain that naturally include intuition and connection with the Greater Whole.

Some personalities compartmentalize this type of intuitive experience and operate as if their intuition does exist. Others import the fruits of focused attention and mastery into daily life.

What does Guidance mean to YOU?
How do YOU interface between your intuition and your cognitive mind?
How comfortable are you with your intuition?

Great Christmas Gift idea! Simple but potent tools effectively clear out unpleasant energy & promote higher awareness.

2 December 2011 6 Comments

Life Guidance Series Introduction: How Is Guidance Different From Information?

Life Guidance Series Introduction: How Is Guidance Different From Information?

In this in-depth Post Series we explore guidance from prow to stern.

Nautical terms are appropriate; guidance can function like a seagoing vessel, carrying us over and across the waters of this mysterious journey we call Life.

The Life Guidance Series starts right where the Life Purpose Series left off. It can be read on its own, but will be most useful with background in these two important skills:

1) objective self-observation
2) the ability to tell your personal values apart from cultural conditioning

The Inner Work Series provides a basis for self-exploration and observation.
The Life Purpose Series helps clarify personal values, motivation, and intention to gain a basis for full participation on your own terms.

The word guidance may used for an entire range of experiences spanning advice, coaching, tutoring, mentoring, intuitive insight, and spiritual direction. I use a small “g” when referring to guidance in general, and capitalize“ Guidance” with respect to receiving inspired, intuitive, or transpersonal intelligence.

Any advice may be inspired in addition to being practical. The value of guidance is reflected in positive changes within your daily life. These changes give inspiration, meaning, and intuition practical expression.

Connecting with inspired Guidance occurs partly by relaxing the distinction between practical and intuitive. We can learn to embrace day-to-day activities with the same kinds of energy and attention that characterize Guidance.

The more we learn to bring ourselves fully into daily life the more amazing life turns out to be. Toward this end this Series brings ordinary and esoteric applications of guidance together by addressing applications and issues that apply in daily life as well as healing and spiritual practice.

The topic of Guidance also embraces intuition, since intuition is the avenue through which we access Guidance from moment to moment.

There is no distinct line to cross between simple intelligence and intuitive guidance. As we act naturally and remain open we can be plugged into a stream of intuitive guidance without having any idea we are doing so. For example, if you are open, you might “channel” how to do something totally mundane, without even knowing it. The content could be about who to hire, how to make a gadget, which scents to combine to make perfume, a food you need for health, or a place you are drawn to where you will encounter someone important.

So what makes Guidance different from information?

The way the information arrives distinguishes Guidance from information–and the way we feel about it. The energy experience of receiving Guidance feels different from the sensation of simply thinking. We feel more connected, inspired, complete, present, engaged, intrigued, or moved by a sense of meaning. Of course, we may not recognize it at the time. Guidance about things we have no reason to know stands out. Guidance about things we may know already is less obvious.

In a sense one might say that real Guidance comes from ‘somewhere’ other than ourselves, while guidance with a small g comes from our stash of learning and invention. This is a dicey assumption.

In actuality we do not know–even scientifically–exactly where we leave off and others begin. Those of us who meditate or practice intuition begin to sense that the borders of our minds are just as fuzzy as the line between what we know on our own and what we receive from indistinct sources. We all overlap.

The ultimate purpose of Guidance is to align with Life Purpose.
Toward this end, Guidance assists us to:

  • recognize who we are in our authenticity
  • accelerate learning from our experiences
  • live with meaning
  • navigate our depths
  • express our values in the way we live
  • develop compassion for ourselves and others
  • enhance our ability to experience appreciation and wonder
  • become more effective in realizing our goals

What makes Guidance different from information for YOU?
How do YOU tell the difference?

Great Christmas Gift idea! Simple but potent tools effectively clear out unpleasant energy & promote higher awareness.