Yoga guiding your life experiment

 

All of us are currently conducting an experiment with our lives. As Samuel Butler said “Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.” As we mentioned before, most of us are not very good at predicting the future, because uncertainty is at the core of life and living. Some people are more or less successful at dealing with the uncertainty of not really knowing how the experiment will turn out, while others become good at pretending that they have it all figured out and yet other people find ways to flow in harmony with the eternal unpredictability of life. Whatever the case, your life is YOUR own experiment, and you get to decide how you want to go about it. Over two decades ago I decided to use yoga as the framework for my life experiment. I am grateful that I found yoga, because yoga has been a helpful system to help me show up to my life every day. I would like to share with you what has been most helpful to me:

  • Yoga is presence. Yoga is being in this moment, trying to pay close attention to what is happening and to what I am doing.
  • As I try to pay attention I notice that I get distracted constantly. With gentle persistence I keep returning to this moment after each distraction. Returning to this moment works best when I return without strain, without struggle, and most importantly, without self-judgment.
  • Smiling softens everything and it reminds me that, like everybody else, I am running my own experiment and that, like nobody else, I have not figured it all out.

Showing up and doing my best, is really what yoga practice (and life) are all about.

You may ask, how do I know if my experiment is working? The yoga experiment is working when there is less physical, mental and emotional pain in your life and when you feel more at ease, more cheerful and enthusiastic to participate in your life.

And you, how is your life experiment going?

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Benefits of Yoga Retreats

 

 

The main reason I go to my yoga mat every morning is because there I find a safe space for exploring the interconnections between my body, my breath, my emotions and my mind. My practice is a process of integrating all these different aspects of myself into the present moment. For me, the practice creates a sense of balance, meaning and purpose. My practice sets up the tone for my day,for my actions and for my interactions with others. In other words, my yoga practice prepares me for participating harmoniously in my life.

Our Yoga practice offers us a refuge where we can center and connect to the best possible version of ourselves. That’s why one of my favorite activities is to go on Yoga Retreat because away from the usual distractions I can create a space to invest time cultivating a more intimate relationship to my own being.

The retreat provides a place where we can:

  • forget about our usual tasks, chores and responsibilities
  • have time to rest and relax
  • reconnect with what is truly important to us
  • verify that we are moving along the best path to contribute our uniqueness to the world with grace, kindness and friendliness

Of course, since we are social beings, our journey is made sweeter by sharing with other people who are also exploring ways to be in greater harmony with themselves and with the world.

I would like to invite you to join me for the Joyful Being retreat in Costa Rica from June 3rd to June 10th, 2017. Everything is ready for you: a beautiful location in the natural environment of the Costa Rican mountains, comfortable accommodations, delicious food and plenty of time to rest, relax and recharge. Join me on this unforgettable journey!
For more information on this wonderful yoga retreat in Costa Rica please visit the website below:
yoga-here-now.com/retreats.html#next

Peace,
rubén

Affordable Yoga Retreat Costa Rica

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

11 Simple Steps to Learn Meditation

Bell Reflections

 

 

Meditation is gaining popularity. As a result, there are many options for those who want to try meditation. As suggested previously we are starting by defining meditation as being with what is, which can be understood as meeting yourself where you are and exactly as you are.

In order to make things easier for ourselves, it is a good idea to let go of our expectations about how the practice should unfold as well as about the potential benefits we may receive from our practice. It may be more helpful to recognize that cultivating the skill of being present (meditation) is in itself a way of fulfilling our most important duty, showing up to our lives. In addition, being present also enables us to notice the distractions, limitations and restrictions that may be interfering in our meaningful engagement in our lives.

In other words, meditation, is a way of enriching the quality of our relationship with ourselves, with the people around us and with the world.

The following steps can be valuable in establishing a sustainable meditation practice:

  • Keep it simple
  • Relax
  • Feel
  • Notice
  • Smile
  • Focus
  • Distractions will happen
  • Release self-judgement
  • Persist gently
  • Enjoy the effects
  • Repeat often

 

Keep it Simple

Make it easy to practice. We do not need any special equipment to meditate. Just allocate some space that is ready so that we can take a brief meditation break whenever we get a chance. If we feel pressed for time, we can just start with a 1, 2, 3 or 5 minute practice. Consider if it would help to remember that this moment we are in is new and irreplaceable and that the moment will never come back or be repeated, therefore it makes sense to choose to give this unique moment our undivided attention.

Relax

Release. Let’s give ourselves permission to be here and trust that the world will be able to survive without us. Whatever is not part of this moment can remain outside, if only for the practical reason that we cannot be effective in a place we are not. To relax, we pay attention to the sensations in our body from head to toes or toes to head noticing if there are any areas where we can release holding or tension.

Feel

Feel the sensations, emotions and thoughts. We tend to spend a lot of time in our heads, thinking, remembering, planning, regretting, predicting, etc. Instead of living in the story we have created for ourselves (and others) we can choose to shift into feeling mode, just connecting to whatever sensations are happening right where we are. Be aware of the tendency to put words into the sensations. Rather than describing, liking, disliking or judging what we are feeling, can we just feel what is happening?

Notice

Observe what is happening and notice that whatever we sense is changing constantly. As we pay attention to the ongoing flow of sensations, thoughts, feelings and emotions we may notice that certain ideas, attitudes and memories emerge in our mind. Are we trying to label, describe, judge, like or dislike what we are feeling? Are those sensations keep changing from one moment to the next. As you stay with the ongoing flow of sensations, feelings, emotions and thoughts notice the words that might come up in your mind.

Smile

What is your attitude as you observe yourself in this moment? What happens if you invite a gentle smile? Does the experience change in any way? Is the change helpful and/or welcome? Is it possible to keep a gentle smile on your face?

Focus

When we recognize that this moment is changing contstantly it can be helpful to have an attitude of curiosity, noticing that there are many things happening as we remain still and silent. This curiosity can help us remain focused on being with the experience that is unfoding right where we are.

Distractions will happen

As a normal human being living in the 21st century we are probably well-practiced in keeping track of many ideas, thoughts, events and lists of things to do. We have trained ourselves to keep our attention switching back and forth between different activities and mental processes on a regular basis. So, it may not be surprising that we find it difficult to stay focused on just one thing. Even when we have chosen something interesting to focus on we find that our mind will get distracted sooner or later. In fact, we may get distracted many, many times. From this perspective, meditation is not a contest to see who can last the longest without any distractions. Instead, a very useful skill to develop is our capacity to keep coming back to this moment after every single distraction regardless of the frequency and length of the distractions.

Release self-judgement

As we bring our attention inwardly it may happen that we notice a familiar internal voice constantly offering judgements. For instance, that voice may immediately point out how we get distracted quite easily, maybe even going to the extent of deciding that we are not good at meditation. At those points, it may be helpful to remember that meditation is being with what is, even if what we are experiencing is distraction, boredom, impatience or frustration. Be curious to experience what happens when you give yourself permission to be free from your own judgement.

Persist gently

Just as it has taken a long time for us to develop our postural, mental, emotional and respiratory habits, cultivating the skill of being with what is, like cultivating anything that is valuable, will take time. The best approach is to persist gently, without any strain or struggle, at a pace that we can handle. One of the most valuable aspects of the practice is the capacity to keep coming back to this moment again and again.

Enjoy the effects

No meditation practice is wasted, even if it seems like we were constantly distracted throughout the whole session. Learning to validate our experience can free us to enjoy developing a more intimate and meaningful relationship with ourselves. Our experience is valid because we are having it, even if it doesn’t go according to our expectations. Enjoying the process, and its effects, is a good way to keep generating a positive change towards clarity and inner peace.

Repeat often

Look at any person who is good at something, it is highly unlikely that they developed all their skills overnight. Actually, what we will find is that increased quality results from persisting again and again in a systematic, conscious and deliberate way over a long period of time. So keep trying to dedicate a little bit of time to meditate as often as it is possible and with a gentle and friendly attitude towards ourselves and towards the whole process.

Put it into practice

Below is a 7 minute video that offers you a clear focal point to put these ideas into practice. Be curious to notice what happens if you try this exercise every day for one week or longer. Enjoy!

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Introduction to Meditation in 5 minutes

 

 

When we define meditation as being with what is, what we mean is that we try to cultivate our ability to be present with what is happening. This exercise invites you to focus your attention on the video and to stay with the experience. It is quite possible that some part of you may start narrating what is happening or commenting on what you see. In either case just return to noticing what you are seeing. If your mind starts going into other times and places by remembering or planning, just keep returning to the video without judgement. Notice whatever happens and consider welcoming whatever is unfolding.

Be curious to notice what happens if you try this exercise every day for one week or longer.

I hope you find this exercise useful.

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 
 

 

5 useful tips for success in meditation

LightInRedWoods

 

 

A simple definition of meditation is: “Meditation is being with what is.” In meditation we take time to do two things:

  • meet ourselves where we are, right here and now
  • meet ourselves just as we are

Obviously, the attitude we have when we approach any activity will influence how we feel and how the activity will unfold. So, if instead of seeing meditation as a chore, we choose to see the practice as establishing an intimate relationship with ourselves, we may be more likely to enjoy it. This is key to establish consistency, because it is easier to practice something that we find enjoyable.

Favoring the following 5 suggestions can be very helpful in creating an effective and enjoyable practice:

  • Find a comfortable position
  • Choose a focal point
  • RELAX
  • Let go off any and all judgement
  • Persist with gentle curiosity

Often when we try to practice meditation we may find it frustrating to notice that the voices in our head cannot seem to stop. Another frequent challenge arises when we notice how often we get distracted. Noticing our internal chatter and that we are getting distracted are already signs that show that we can witness these activities from a different vantage point instead of allowing them to derail us. This is a sign that our meditation is working because we can separate ourselves from the habitual activites of our mind. I would suggest savoring that as we return to our focal point.

I hope you find many opportunities to enjoy connecting to yourself through your meditation practice.

Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Can we regulate our internal climate?

DramaticClouds

 

 

Very often I notice that changing weather patterns are on our minds because some of the variations we are experiencing seem to be difficult to ignore. It makes sense to pay attention to the fluctuations in the weather so that we can plan, even something as simple as taking an umbrella along as we leave our home. For me it is also interesting to observe how the weather outside can help us notice some of our internal filters. For instance, it is not unusual to hear somebody saying something like: “Wow! What a beautiful day today, how can a person not be absolutely happy today?” Most of us would probably agree that when the weather outside agrees with our preferences or plans we may be more likely to feel happy, or at least in a good mood. Of course, it is easier to feel happy when everything is going according to our liking. However, when the weather turns, does that make our mood turn as well? Is the person who finds today’s weather lovely the same person that complains because it is too hot, too humid, too cold, too windy or too rainy?

Something that draws my attention is how a simple weather event like rain can generate two quite distinct reactions in the same person. For example, if I am working in my garden and I just finished putting seeds in the ground, I may be quite happy when it starts raining. On the other hand, if I have plans to meet my friends for a picnic, I may feel frustrated or upset for having to change or cancel my plans when it rains. When I allow the changing weather patterns influence how I feel, am I abdicating my agency? Am I relinquishing my capacity to choose how to respond to what is happening outside? Allowing my mood to be at the mercy of external phenomena, seems like an excellent recipe to be on a constant emotional roller coaster that changes like the wind.

Yoga is a journey of inner exploration of our physical, mental, emotional and respiratory inner landscapes. It can be argued that yoga can enhance our ability to regulate our inner climate. For instance, most yoga sessions are set up in a safe, calm and relaxing environment in order to facilitate an exploration with minimal to no distractions. As a result, we can notice how our movements, our breath and our mind interact and interrelate and even further, we may start noticing how the practice influences our attitude and mood. The skills we cultivate in our practice are transferable, so one of the goals of our consistent practice is to help us act consciously and deliberately during our practice and beyond, in our daily lives. In other words, our yoga practice helps us establish a link between our inner world and the world outside, enabling us to respond rather than react.

How can we get better at regulating our internal states?

The first requirement is to show up as fully as we can to our present moment. Without this we may not notice that some of our reactions might be habitual and/or unconscious.
The second requirement is to be interested in noticing what is happening to better determine if, and how, external phenomena influence the way we feel, think, move and breathe.
Third, as we remain interested in what is happening right where we are, we may notice places where we feel pressure, discomfort or pain arising. It is helpful to keep in mind that these sensations may be happening at the level of breath, body, mind or emotion. A temptation when we notice an obstacle, challenge or distraction, might be to go into self-judgement and to think that we may be doing something wrong. Here is when it is critical to validate our experience, that is, to recognize that it is valid to feel what we are feeling, regardless of liking or disliking what we are feeling. That acknowledgement offers us a pause, an invitation to explore if there may be other options within our control. This aspect of the practice is critical to being able to regulate our inner states because we are cultivating our ability to observe and discern before reacting.
Consequently, we can make a choice and notice its effects.
Of course, like with any other practice, we get better at it when we remain interested and curious enough to persist gently over time.

As we embark on the journey towards being better able to regulate our internal climate, it may be easier to understand why in the Yoga Sutras Patañjali defines yoga as regulating our internal activity [1.2] in order to experience our true nature [1.3] instead of mistakenly identifying ourselves with the transient objects that enter our field of awareness [1.4]. Perhaps, a first level of the ultimate freedom that Patañjali speaks about, is the necessary step of becoming independent from all external manipulation. This is truly empowering. Of course, it is important to note that taking this path requires us to own up to our actions and to stop blaming others for our internal states. A possible corollary, is that being responsible for our internal climate is a way to stop engaging in external and internal drama so that we can focus our energy on our dharma, i.e. our wholehearted and conscious participation in life as it unfolds in front of our eyes.

When we remember that Yoga philosophy is not a mere mental exercise but a call to action, we can choose to put the idea of regulating our internal climate into practice. Here are a few possible approaches, some seemingly more attainable while others may seem quite ambitious:

  • Can I choose to stay calm as I drive?
  • Can I choose to look in the eyes of each person I meet?
  • Can I listen to each person I meet with?
  • Can I keep a soft smile on my face throughout my day?
  • Can I choose not to judge?
  • Can I make a choice not to complain?
  • Can I be an abode of peace and compassion wherever I go?
  • Can I choose to be grateful no matter what happens to me?
  • Can I choose to be happy or kind or loving or compassionate no matter what?

It may be helpful to remember that as we try to bring these intentions into practice, we are likely to start bumping into obstacles that keep us from staying focused. Noticing how we respond is a good way to test our ability to modulate our inner climate. Actually, it is quite illuminating to notice what we do when we bump into obstacles, some of us will choose to blame the obstacles or somebody else, somebody else may grow frustrated or angry. Each obstacle helps us notice the strength of our commitment to our intention. Similarly, each obstacle we face may offer us insight into our values and attitudes.
These fluctuations between staying with our intention and getting distracted is part and parcel of the process. Most of us will probably get distracted and forget our intention for a few minutes, hours, days, week, months or even years. What is truly important is to remember to keep coming back again and again without any strain, struggle or self-judgement. To keep trying is what develops our focus, strength and will; that is the core of all yoga practices (postures, movements, breathing, chanting & meditation).

As we continue trying with gentle persistence we will grow in our self-understanding and insight, and perhaps we will be able to look at ourselves and the world with a little bit more patience and kindness.
May the weather outside not become the master of your internal states.
Peace,
rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Introduction to Dance of Shiva (Shiva Nata)

 

 

The Dance of Shiva is a form of moving meditation rescued by Ukranian Yoga Teacher Andrey Lappa. The practice starts with two basic patterns, horizontal and vertical. Each pattern consists of 4 simple arm positions. In the Dance of Shiva the practitioner moves the arms between these four basic positions.

This practice is very helpful in cultivating

  • Attention, Concentration & Focus
  • Coordination
  • Expanded mental processing capacity

As usual, as we practice we:

  • Do what we can, not more, not less
  • Let go of all struggle, forcing and strain
  • Favor easeful and fluid movements

Horizontal Pattern

Throughout all the movements the palms of the hands try to remain facing up as if holding tea cups and trying not to spill. Also, each arm-hand avoids crossing the vertical mid-axis of the body.

The four arm positions for the horizontal pattern:

Dance of Shiva Horizontal pattern position 1

Dance of Shiva Horizontal pattern position 2

Dance of Shiva Horizontal pattern position 3

Dance of Shiva Horizontal pattern position 4

Arm Movements

We start with the simplest pattern, Forward pattern, moving from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 and then returning to 1. Notice that this creates a horizontal spiraling motion. Just as in learning anything else, we start really slow to clarify all of the movements. For instance, we can try to ensure that the movements of the arms include harmonious movements of the shoulder blades.

Then we can explore a second pattern, Backward pattern, moving from 1 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1. Gradually we can expand to a third pattern where one arm moves in the forward pattern (1-2-3-4) while the other arms moves simultaneously in the backward pattern (4-3-2-1). Notice that this pattern can be done alternating the arms, so that the arm that starts with forward pattern then performs the backward pattern.

Vertical Pattern

Throughout all the movements the palms of the hands try to remain facing outward as if pressing against imaginary walls to the sides. Similar to the horizontal pattern, each arm-hand avoids crossing the vertical mid-axis of the body.

The four arm positions for the vertical pattern:

Dance of Shiva Vertical pattern position 1

Dance of Shiva Vertical pattern position 2

Dance of Shiva Vertical pattern position 3

Dance of Shiva Vertical pattern position 4

Arm Movements

Just as we did with the horizontal pattern, we start with the simplest pattern, Forward pattern, moving from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 and then returning to 1. Notice that this creates a vertical spiraling motion. We start with slow movements to clarify the pattern, and just as we did with the horizontal movements we favor movements of the arms that include harmonious movements of the shoulder blades.

Then we can explore a second pattern, Backward pattern, moving from 1 to 4 to 3 to 2 to 1. Similar to the horizontal pattern, we can expand to a third pattern where one arm moves in the forward pattern (1-2-3-4) while the other arm moves simultaneously in the backward pattern (4-3-2-1). Here as well the arms can alternate patterns.

Video

In this video you can see examples of the horizontal y vertical patterns combined in the Forward, Backward and Alternate patterns. You may also see an example of a leg movement pattern.

As with any other practice, after the practice take a moment to notice its effects. Sense the effects at the physical level through experiencing the sensations in your body. Also, notice the effects at the mental level, for instance, was the series of movements interesting enough to capture your attention so that you were not thinking about anything else? At the emotional level, were you able to practice without having to judge yourself when you got distracted or confused?

Consider practicing these simple patterns with consistency until they seem quite easy and can be done slow or fast. As usual, trust that taking small manageable steps will provide benefits. When the practice gets easy enough that you can do them at different speeds, it may be time to add variations to continue growing. For example, it can be fun to play with combinations of starting points, such as one arm starting at 1 and the other starting at 2 and following the patterns outlined above (both arms forward, backward, alternating).

If you like this practice, there is a very complete DVD on the Theory and Practice of the Dance of Shiva by Andrey Lappa on Pranamaya.com.

I hope you find this practice enjoyable and that you share any questions and discoveries you make along the way.

Peace,
rubén

More Dance of Shiva articles:

Simple guided meditation with Rubén

 

 

Yoga as Relationship: Going deeper

arch

 

 

In Sanskrit many words have a whole set of meanings. For instance, some of the meanings of the word yoga include: junction, union, putting together, connection and relation.
Even when we think about yoga from the most superficial perspective, just looking at the body, we can see that it makes sense to use the idea of relationship when we think about the physical aspect of yoga because it brings up ideas such as creating a harmonious relationship between:

  • the bones in the body
  • bones, tendons, muscles and tissues
  • nervous system and physical apparatus
  • inhalation and exhalation
  • breath and movement

Even more interesting is to notice that in yoga we are also cultivating efficient interrelationships between:

  • breath, body and mind
  • breath, mind and emotions
  • attitude and action
  • intention, attitude and actions

As we deepen our inquiry we cannot fail to notice that yoga is about the relationship that we have with ourselves because sooner or later the tools of yoga will help us notice:

  • the stories we tell ourselves (that we end up believing)
  • how those stories influence our thinking, actions and emotions
  • how those stories filter our perceptions
  • how our thoughts and stories create assumptions and expectations

Moreover, as we continue exploring in more directions we come to realize that the relationships we have established with ourselves interpenetrate with the relationships that we have cultivated with the people and the environment around us.

So the next time you think that in yoga you are just trying to stretch your muscles, consider inviting yourself to expand your definition so that you can access the full depth of the practice that will enable you to savor the complete experience of developing inner-connectedness and then moving from that inner-connectedness to interconnectedness.

Peace and joy!
rubén

 

 

I don’t have time for this…

SandDunes

 

 

One of the many perks of being married to a linguist, is that it is easier to be aware of the importance of the words i use. In addition, as a teacher, i am very interested in using language appropriately and concisely. In addition, an essential part of yoga practice is to study our own mind, its actions and patterns (svadhyaya). So, I really try to pay attention to the words i hear and use. Often i hear expressions like: “i don’t have time for this.” As i pay attention i notice how interesting it is to explore what is meant by such an expression. I don’t have time for this seems to be used when we find an “obstacle” on our way to some destination. We are so motivated to get where we are going that we feel it would be much better, and much more efficient, to not have to deal with some unexpected distractions along the way.

This expression, i don’t have time for this, implies that we have much better things to do with our time. Often, when we use it, we are pointing out that there is something out of our plans, often something we see as negative because we have specific expectations and plans leading us in a different direction.

From the yoga perspective, if we understand that yoga is to be fully present, the practice is to actually give our attention to what is happening right in front of our eyes. Remember that our expectations are seeds for future frustrations and that those expectations will color our experiences as positive or negative. Furthermore, when we recognize that we are always only in one specific time, right here and now, in this moment, today, then it makes sense that it is important to clarify what we have time for.

One suggestion would be to make sure that we have a clear intention that motivates our hearts to move along the path that fulfills our intention. When our intention is very clear, it is much easier to decide what deserves our attention because we know if our actions are aligned to our intention. Along the way, as we recognize that we have very limited (if any) control over the world outside (ishvara pranidhana), we can learn to accept what comes our way. These “distractions” we claim to have no time for, offer us opportunities for clarifying our intention, for cultivating humility and flexibility and, quite often, those same distractions carry the gift of insight into the quality of our participation in this moment.

The next time you hear yourself say: “I don’t have time for this” i may suggest to pause and feel what is happening inside of you. Then take a soft and long breath, and perhaps ask yourself, what is my attitude right now? How does it help me to move towards my intention? What deserve my time and attention?”

I hope these ideas are useful on your path to greater joy, compassion and fulfillment.

Namaste.

rubén

 

 

Learning to Trust (or How to find your inner teacher)

FuchsiaOrchids
 

 

Yoga, when practiced with integrity, guides us on a journey towards increasing clarity and ease. Along the way, as we gradually fine-tune our sensitivity, questions emerge, especially questions such as, how can i know if what i am doing is right or wrong? If we are fortunate, we can seek the assistance and advice of a trustworthy source, somebody with knowledge and first hand experience of this process, our teacher or teachers. In the Yoga tradition, the Guru, or teacher, is that knowledgeable guide assisting the student in moving from a state of darkness, limitation or restriction to greater clarity, freedom and ease.

If we are fortunate enough to have access to a good teacher, we will probably find that the teacher will suggest a technique or practice to help uncover some misconception or limitation. Then, once the restriction is identified, we may gain more clarity towards life affirming choices. We will probably notice that the teacher will not make a decision for us, so we are still in charge of making our own choices.

Can we trust ourselves?

So, how can we know if we can trust ourselves? Very often we hear instructions in yoga classes directing us to listen to the inner teacher, inner wisdom or inner guidance. Yet, as we pay attention to what is happening inside, we often find a never ending monologue with varying opinions on what we are doing as well as on many other unrelated things. Which of the voices/opinions is our inner teacher? Is it the voice that is saying to try harder? Is it the one that is comparing what i am doing with what the person next to me is doing? Or, is it the part that is thinking about my to do list or what i should have for dinner? For most of us, it seems like we are having to make decisions constantly, and the inner chatter is more often an obstacle than a guide.

Our inner compass

My suggestion is that the majority of us, if not all people, are equipped with an internal compass offering us subtle guidance on a regular basis. One of the characteristics of this inner guidance is that it is gentle and not forceful. Consequently, external noise and distractions combined with our internal chatter may distract us, thus, making it less likely for us to notice and even less listen to that inner guidance. To verify that you have access to that inner compass, take a few moments to think about a recent decision you made (it doesn’t have to be a big decision) where, after you decided and acted according to your choice you went: “I knew this was not a good idea” or “I knew I shouldn’t have done that.” That knowing offering a light tap or inner nudge is our inner compass.

A simple suggestion

When you have to make a decision, you may get a gentle nudge, a feeling that prompts you to lean in a certain direction or to take a specific choice. It doesn’t usually come with words, that is why some people call it the silent whisper of the heart. This gentle guidance, just suggests or points without forcing or struggle. It feels like a gentle offer. It is a suggestion and not an order, so we can always make whatever choice we want, even if that means ignoring the whisper of the heart. Frequently, we might notice that if we have an expectation or if we are attached to one of the options we have, the suggestion we receive will probably be met with resistance on our part. In those cases, we will start coming up with arguments, explanations and justifications for taking a different path of action from the one suggested. I often think about a silly example to illustrate how this works: You are having dinner with friends at one of your favorite restaurants and you notice something inside of you indicating that you may have already eaten enough. However, you have not had dessert yet and this place serves one of your all-time favorite desserts. Even though you have noticed the inner signal that you have eaten enough, you may hear yourself coming up with justifications, some like: this week i have really worked very hard and i deserve a reward, or today i walked longer than usual, or i had a very small lunch today. You may even ask your friends for their suggestions or opinion. So, you convince yourself to override the internal advice. You get your dessert and eat it. By the time you get home or the next morning you will probably notice the effects of overeating the night before and you may hear yourself saying: “i knew i shouldn’t have eaten that much”. To clarify, the inner teacher offers an option, we can listen or ignore, and in the end we always have to make a decision. No matter what decision we make, we will have to deal with the consequences of our action.

Can you trust your inner guidance?

You may be asking, so, how do i learn to trust my inner guidance? Think about the many times you have felt that gentle nudge telling you to do something. Now, notice how many times you have chosen to ignore that nudge and you have ended up saying, “I knew this was not such a good idea!”. Probably, every single time. In contrast, think about how many times you have chosen to listen to that internal suggestion and have been glad you did. Most likely, every single time. Moreover, consider if the suggestions you receive ever work against you and the evidence from your own life will show you that the inner guidance you receive always works to your own benefit –even if you do not understand the logic behind it at the time. If your inner guidance offers you options to your own benefit every single time, why not give its suggestions a fair a chance the next time? Most likely you will not regret it.

Try this simple approach

Pause
Next time you need to make a decision, (maybe start with something simple), be willing to pause and listen. Maybe even ask internally, what would be best?
Pay attention
Listen with curiosity. The answer may not come in immediately, it may come in as a few words in something you are reading, or a song that you are listening to, or as part of a conversation you are having or on a billboard on the side of the road. As you notice something that resonates with you, see if it relates to your question, situation or dilemma. Learn to notice the difference in sensation when you are trying to convince yourself and when the message comes from deep inside of you.
Act
Follow the guidance without struggling.
Notice the outcome.
If it works and you end up in a place of a little bit more clarity and ease, consider repeating this procedure over the next couple of weeks. Notice if this helps you feel better and happier more often

I might add, that you can combine the approach suggested in the previous article about not trying to predict the future with trusting inner guidance.They work quite nicely together.

As always, I hope you find this useful.

Namaste.

rubén

Simple guided meditation with Rubén