When we reach a fork in the road and need insight and guidance to help us go on, for many of us we seek what we need from the outside in: a friend, a parent, a sibling, or other relative. For some, it may be from a healthcare professional, like a doctor or therapist. For others, it may be from a practitioner of the spiritual arts, like a psychic or intuitive. Whichever it is, it’s not uncommon to believe the answers we seek live outside of ourselves. There’s someone out there who knows who we are and what we need better than we do.
And of course there’s some truth to this. There can be tremendous value in reaching outside of ourselves for the insight and guidance we seek, especially when we’re not yet well acquainted with ourselves or our needs. And because we humans are hard wired for relationship, reaching out to someone for help comes naturally to many of us. Thankfully there can be wonderful, wise and trustworthy folks who’ll reach back and be happy to help.
But what if we could also go someplace closer to home for the guidance we seek? What if we didn’t have to lay out our most sensitive stuff for our friends and family to see, or pay to get the help we need? What if our circumstances were such that we were on our own in the world, without friends or family to turn to for help? Or we didn’t have the means to reach out to a professional even if we wanted to. Where could we turn to then?
According to the Yogic sages of old, our body is a rich source of insight and guidance.
It’s a kooky idea in a world where we’re taught to believe our body is a one dimensional object, that we feed, clothe and exercise, and that can wear out and need care more often than we’d like.
But the ancients believed, as do I, that our body is a multidimensional entity, a tremendous storehouse of information on many different levels.
When we take the time to tune in, ask, and then do something quite extraordinary, and by that I mean, listen, we can tap into the very insight and guidance we seek. The body then becomes the heart of our experience, where its knowledge is sourced and used to help us deal with a perplexing conundrum or painful dilemma calling out for our attention.
There are many approaches to listening inwardly. Two approaches I like are from the worlds of philosophy and psychology, and the world of Yoga.
Consider this from the Yoga tradition:
- Find a moment when you can pause what you’re doing and step outside the colorful box of your daily life. Allow yourself to turn your attention to the movement of the breath in your body. Simply notice its rhythm, as the breath rises on the flow of the inhalation and falls on the flow of the exhalation.
- Once you sense your mind feels quieter, ask yourself a question you’d ask someone in whom you have confidence. Pause. Wait. Listen inwardly for a response. It may come right away, or it may come tomorrow or next week. But come it will.
- Then, allow yourself to trust what you understand to have come forward, and do as your deepest feelings are guiding you. (It’s your deepest feelings that want the best for you that are worthy of your regard. Those that in some way want to invite harm, are musings from the ego.)
Sometimes the information that comes forward is in plain language, where you understand clearly what it’s about and how to proceed. But sometimes the information that comes forward is through a felt sense in the body. An inkling, an intuitive knowing that’s being experienced by the body. By exploring this felt sense, we also can gather information that can help us to understand, and resolve, a conundrum or dilemma life has placed on our path.
Eugene Gendlin, the 20th century creator of an eloquent body-centered therapy called, “Focusing”, calls the information we receive through the body, ‘meanings’. He says:
“The meanings that are acquired through direct experience are much more powerful than meanings acquired through conceptual thought.”
I agree with Gendlin too, that these meanings acquired through direct experience are very potent. They hold a power that can help us to find our way and heal what we need to heal.
Mind you, these meanings don’t speak the same language as the thinking mind does. They come in the form of images, sensations, colors, sounds, emotions, and thoughts, which make sense to the one who experiences them, and them alone. They’re universal in that we all have the capacity to tap in to them, yet at the same time, deeply personal. These meanings are the language of the body.
The language of the body emerging out of direct experience is a special kind of poetry.
Sometimes what emerges is simple, literal and easily understood, but sometimes what emerges holds a deeper metaphorical significance. Whatever does come, has its own rhythm and meaning. This is the poetry of the body.
When it comes to waking up your inner oracle, the good news is there’s more than one way of doing so. The important thing is is that you do it. There’s no better guidance than that which comes from within.