To gather information, you ask Siri, search Google or go to a website. For advice, you can ask a trusted teacher, a coach or therapist, or a spouse, friend or sibling. You’ll find all sorts of advice, and some of it may actually help!
You may not take any of it, but rather use the advice to hone your sense of what you DON’T want to do. And in the process of eliminating various options, you move closer to what feels right. This is the process of learning to listen to yourself, and trusting your ability to make good decisions.
If you’re not used to listening to your gut, this can be an unsettling process. You have to learn to recognize the signs and sound of your knowing, of your wisdom voice. That comes with practice.
How do you feel when you’ve made a great decision? Maybe it happens quickly. You just KNOW. Other times, you might feel nervous, but still excited. Or, other things might start falling into place right away, as though in agreement with your decision. You might have a body sensation that tells you “yes.” One of my teachers used to experience a small twitch behind his ears when he was going in the right direction. Some people can’t tune in to that voice or sensation, so they use a tool like a pendulum or muscle testing to “translate” the sensation into a sign.
On the contrary, some people develop nervous tics when they find themselves being backed into a corner or rushed to make an uncomfortable choice. Or they have an inexplicable bad feeling about walking or going somewhere and suddenly change their plans. Some people break out in hives. They may feel like they have a lump in their throat, or their throat can’t be cleared. Or their bowels rebel. It’s just as important, if not more so, to listen to your warning voice as it is your wisdom voice.
There are times when we have to make decisions in the face of challenging circumstances. This is where some kind of sitting or meditation practice usually pays off. As you still your body and mind, you may be in a better position to “hear” your solutions. Most of the time, when I’m struggling with a decision, sitting is torture, and there’s no way I can take this advice! I need to move, so I go for long walks with my dog. Moving my body helps still my mind.
In acupuncture’s Five Element Theory, the arms & legs belong to digestion, and the positive mental state that accompanies digestion is contemplation. Think of it like this: movement helps you “digest” a situation so that you can regard it with equanimity. The body supports the mind in doing its productive work. The more you listen for your wisdom voice, the better you’ll be able to hear it through the clutter and noise and busyness of your daily routine.
The voice that’s calling to you is your own. You know what to do.
Interesting that this post happened today. Recently I had full knee replacement on my left knee (8 weeks today). Both my knees are shot, but we began with the worst one. Throughout the healing/recovery process, which was quite painful, I always had the right knee in the back of my mind. It needed to be done, but do I want it done? Could I tolerate the pain for the rest of my life. Knee surgery is one of the most painful to recover from. As I healed and the major pain decreased, and as I progressed in physical therapy and saw much improvement, I noticed that my right knee was beginning to yell out, “Hey you, remember me? I still need your attention!”
I made the decision to have the right knee done, but I couldn’t solidify my decision until I saw my surgeon. Well, I saw him today – and now I have a surgery date for September 27th. This is a huge decision. I now know what I’m going to have to go through again…and honestly, I don’t relish the experience.
What I noticed after I left the surgeon’s office is that all I wanted to do was shout out to the world that I got a great report from the surgeon. I’m ahead of schedule and doing quite well. No more PT and I have a new surgery date. The first thing I did was text my daughters, posted it on Facebook and on Twitter! My instinct was to share the news with everyone! That’s how I knew that the decision was the right one!
Thanks for this post – I appreciate the insight!
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. says
Well done, you! I agonized over a hip replacement recommendation a few years ago. Once I realized I couldn’t avoid it, I found multiple glowing referrals to the same surgeon. I created a pre and post-op protocol (mostly non-traditional), along with the surgeon’s excellent pre and post-op recommendations (a combination of the best of east and west), and came through with shining colors. I strongly recommend acupuncture to speed your post-op recovery, and to help you through rehab. I wish you a non-eventful surgery, a team of doctors and caregivers who are sharp, mindful and compassionate, and a speedy recovery. Here’s to many enjoyable walks with your new knee!
Very informative! I have to start listening to my body. I had a scary episode Easter Sunday where my BP spiked at 297. Hubby and I put in so many hours at work and while people tell us we should slow down and think of retirement, I just can’t see us doing that, love working so much. But as we are getting beyond the golden years, I think it really is time to start listening to my body, one day it may be too late.
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. says
Yikes! There are a handful of things you can do to help reduce your BP and I hope you try them! Check out HeartMath (a free app combines with an ear clip you purchase) that gives you breathing guidance. Check out Sounds True for lots of interesting teachers and programs that will help you find calm and keep you enjoying the work you are doing. Look for a local acupuncturist to help you maintain your equilibrium so you can enjoy your golden years, however you spend them.
So needed this today! My body and heart are trying to tell me to make changes. I’m on the road to “better” now’
Kathleen Port, L.Ac. says
I’m so pleased this resonated for you. Sometimes we need to hear, or hear again, something we know to be true. I wish you strength, insight and grace on your journey forward.