NOVEMBER SALON: STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING “GUIDANCE OVERLOAD”
Apparently the OCTOBER SALON on “Symptoms of Guidance Overload” reflected feelings that thousands of you could relate to in very intimate ways. To summarize that Salon in brief, I presented my perspective that a person can accumulate too much guidance as a result of continually seeking ways to cope with life problems and crises. But as a consequence of receiving too much guidance, or not being able to interpret the guidance received, or wanting guidance to come in a form that includes a guarantee of the outcome, the individual experiences a sense of overwhelm and consequently does nothing. Yet, guidance, as I pointed out, is energy and energy must take a path of manifestation. If that energy is not directed into a path of manifestation through making conscious choices, then a person risks developing a type of “psychic congestion” in which the energy becomes blocked or congested in person’s energy system.
That condition, in turn, produces symptoms indicating that such a state of congestion exists. These symptoms can include depression, lethargy, depletion of creative resources, and even sleep disorders, among several others that are listed in last month’s Salon. A person cannot, in other words, continually seek Divine advice and then remain immobile. Consider this situation through a more grounded perspective, that is, imagine that you were continually seeking advice on business or real estate or whether to leave a job or even a relationship. Let’s say you pursue advice via a counselor, and books, and seminars, and through conversations with friends. Eventually you are filled with opinions, statistics, and various facts as well as fears – your own and your friends. You can get so overloaded with statistics, facts, and opinions that you lose touch completely with your own gut instincts and heart passion. You’ve created a situation for yourself, in other words, in which you have so much data that you can no longer clearly relate to the primary question itself, much less the energy that motivated you to pursue the question in the first place.
A person is as capable of amassing an overload of spiritual guidance, as he or she is an overload of business, financial, or relationship guidance. Ultimately there comes a time when a person needs to make decisions and initiate the next phase of his or her life. We would all, of course, like to direct the next steps of our lives with absolute certainty, but that never has and never will be possible for any of us, no matter how much we pray. Such a path of safety is simply not the name of the game on this planet and stands in direct opposition to the purpose of needing faith as the companion through the mysteries of our lives.
So how then do you finally organize and make use of all of your accumulated guidance? How do you finally get yourself to move forward? How do you take on your fears of your life falling into chaos as a result of one of your choices? Before we explore specifics about strategies for establishing a comfort level with making choices, however, I want to share with you the results of a question-answer exercise I did with four different audiences since writing the October Salon that is most revealing in terms of bringing peering underneath the surface of the epidemic of discontent that characterizes our contemporary spiritual culture. For the record, all together the four audiences equaled approximately 3,000 people.
A REVEALING EXPERIMENT
When you arrive at the crossroads of a decision in your life, you know it. The stress becomes unmistakable especially once it becomes physical. Stress that comes from “the need to make a change” – which, by the way, includes everything from leaving a job to starting a business to speaking up in a relationship to changing an attitude – permeates every cell of your body as well as every cell of your life environment. Associating only enormous life changes as qualifying for what it means to be at a life crossroads, however, is very, very erroneous. Often times, in fact I would say most often, the types of changes that wear most heavily on people are not these huge changes like moving households or divorce. Rather, they are far more bite-sized and are part of that category of life experiences that are chronic low-grade irritants that eventually become large internal crises. For example, the decision to finally speak up and establish adult boundaries within a relationship equals a genuine crossroads life change because the consequences to the quality of the relationship can be so dramatic. And for that reason, perhaps speaking up should not be considered exactly “bite-sized”, but when people list what they consider to be their most intimidating life risks, it’s the financial ones that top the list as opposed to not speaking out in a personal relationship. Money risks for many people take priority because they are so clearly tied to our quality of physical survival. However, truth be told, people are as afraid of emotional risks as they are of financial ones. The point of all this is to highlight the fact that when it’s time to make a change in your life, you cannot deny the signals.
And point number two, there are no shortages of excuses as to why the “time just isn’t right” to do anything right now, in spite of all the stress and pressure you are feeling, which is, by the way, your signal that the time IS right.
So – here is the question-answer experiment I tried: First, I asked people if they have in any way expressed the prayer, “For what reason have I been born?” Most people answer “yes” to that, although many hesitate, reflecting a low-level fear that heaven might just notice them acknowledging that they did, in fact, once utter that life-changing soul-deep invocation. Next, I asked if people feel that they are at a crossroads in their life, a point of change. Most answer yes to that question as well. Now here is where things get really curious so far as human nature is concerned.
Next I asked people to describe in exact and tight language exactly what it is they felt that their inner guidance was directing them to do or become or say or complete in their lives. Now, mind you, we – that is to say, those of us coming from our Western Judeo-Christian American spiritual culture – share a unique spiritual mindset that is its own handicap when it comes to matters of seeking guidance. That is, we focus intently on the “do” side of the question. We want our guidance to be practical, grounded, specific, and most of all – productive. It has to “pay off” somehow. Guidance to “wait” or to “learn endurance” or to “become forgiving” or to “heal thyself” or to “let go” is simply not satisfactory. Or at the very least, it is not enough to make us get off the couch. So when I pose the question to people to describe exactly what it is they are feeling guided to do at this moment in their lives, most every one thinks in terms of a career move. The next category is a personal move, such as a divorce or leaving a job and moving on….but where? The “where” can wait, I tell them. The goal of THIS present moment is simply to list what it is you know you are being told RIGHT NOW. Guidance comes in small pieces. Often you are told to leave a place before you are told where to go next. Sometimes you are told where to go, but not why. The point is that no one gets the complete picture all at once. Not even Jesus was told why he had to die. He was just instructed that he had to go through the immeasurable suffering of the crucifixion – period. Further, he pleaded that he be released from the mission. Guidance is provided to each of us in such a way that faith is always required of us if and when we choose to act on that guidance.
But returning to the instruction to describe specifics of their guidance, most of the people in these audiences could not do that. They found it nearly impossible to find the right words to language their guidance. They had little difficulty talking about their stress, their depression, their unhappiness, their problems. Yet, when it came to describing what they felt they were being guided to do in order to work with or through their situation, they drew a blank. That response was a clear admission to me that “the devil they knew was more comfortable than the devil they had yet to meet”. Either that or – and here’s a very real possibility that is worth serious examination – we have simply become accustomed to being discontent with out lives. Spiritual discontentment has become a lifestyle. Perhaps we have created a spiritual fantasy that is the result of combining three tributaries of life that actually should run parallel but should never have merged: our goals regarding our health vis a vis the holistic model, our personal fulfillment as individuals in terms of relationships and careers, and our spiritual path. Most certainly our spiritual life is vital to our health, BUT should they goal of being “healthy” and all that that requires as well as our emotional happiness be placed upon the shoulders of our spiritual life? Does our spiritual life OWE us a job??? Or does our spiritual life owe us a path that is meant to strengthen our spirit? So vital are these questions to our well-being and to our spiritual maturity that they form a part of the theme of the book I am currently writing exploring the nature of intuition, mysticism, and the awakening of the healer. These questions, combined with my intense fascination with the limitations of intuition as a spiritual path and the deeper call to the experience of mysticism inspired me to create a CMED program that is designed to be a year of personal self-exploration into the interior domain of your intuitive nature and the call into the path of the mystic. Included in this year-long experience will be instructions on learning how to utilize your inherent abilities to heal yourself, others, and do healing at a distance as these abilities emerge naturally as your spirit engages in the discipline and prayerful practices of mysticism. This is the subject of our December Salon.
But continuing with the question and answer session on responding to one’s guidance, finally I said, “I want you to imagine that every single fear you have is all taken care of. If your primary fear for not moving forward in your life is financial, then imagine that you don’t have financial fears. If you’re concern is that people will be hurt by your need to explore your own life further, then imagine that will not happen. No matter what problems or concerns you feel hold you back from pursuing your highest potential, imagine that they do not exist. Now, with that frame of mind, what would you do?”
Silence filled the rooms of each of my audiences. Rather than experiencing a spontaneous outburst of freedom of expression, the majority of people – and I do mean the majority – retreated even further into their interiors. I repeated that I had set the parameters for their field of choice to be free from any of their burdensome limitations, reminding them that they were free to imagine, free to choose, free to acknowledge the voice of their guidance that was directing them to step into the next orbit of their lives. Still, no one spoke up.
“Why is it,” I asked, “that none of you is able to clearly state what you are being guided to do? Now that you are free for this one precious moment, why is it that you cannot put language to the resolution of your discontentment? Why are you unable to state out loud that you would actually change anything?”
The only other conclusion I could draw was that no one would change anything, even if they could. Or, they would change very little. Or, they would change those around them so that they would not have to make any changes themselves. Finally, the secret was out.
“Has discontentment become an epidemic in our spiritual culture?” I wondered out loud. Have we simply become accustomed to being unhappy with ourselves and with our lives because our expectations have become so unrealistic? Have we become far too impatient with life and with others? Or do we have to admit that we really do not want to try as hard as we should to manifest our highest potential? Could the source of our discontentment be as simple as that?
As I shared this perspective, I said, “Consider the truth that most of you are in your middle years. As much as you may not want to admit this, you no longer have the energy of a 20-year-old, nor do you have the fire in your belly to take the same risks as you did thirty years ago. And realistically speaking, you don’t have as many years ahead of you to repair the damage should a risk turn out to have some serious earthly outcomes. Perhaps many of you are really not that eager to leave the circumstance you are in as you might think. Perhaps what is really needed is not more guidance, but a different interpretation and approach to your guidance and your feelings of discontentment that you have become so very familiar with by now.”
A sensation of relief settled on one of my audiences that was literally palpable. Their bodies relaxed deep into their seats as their spines let go of that stiff posture that accompanies the strain of an intense lecture. “So now,” I said, “if we are not all that enthusiastic about changing our external lives, perhaps the task at hand is to change our internal life. Where do we begin with that task?”
RIGHT GUIDANCE, WRONG TARGET: Releasing Your Guidance
Discontentment can become a pattern, even a hobby, as can complaining. Similarly, some of us never develop the spiritual art of appreciation and not just for the big and obvious blessings of our lives, but for the small every day things that we take for granted. Certainly most of us do not practice appreciation enough. But this is rushing ahead too fast. The place to begin is to re-examine some of your basic perceptions about your life, including whether you really want to change your life OR should you consider the possibility that rather than change your external world, your energies are now meant to be directed toward your internal world. For example, what if your inability to move out of your world was rooted in the fact that you are not meant to move out of your world. Rather, you are meant to remain exactly in the life you are living, perhaps even with all the people who are in your life, yet you are meant to see them differently, to love them more deeply, to accept them and the whole of your life as perfect for you, even in its imperfection. Perhaps if you find that no matter how much you want to do this or that, or move here or go there, you simply cannot, then you must consider that the time has come to examine your motivations at a more authentic level. Ask yourself these questions:
What is really motivating your frustration?
What do you appreciate about your life?
Is complaining a part of your personality?
Were you ever content?
Do you complain about or compliment the people around you on a regular basis? (Ask them this question if you want the truth).
Time for you to be honest with yourself:
What are the chances that you really would pursue the path of greatest risk and mystery?
Do you have a history of being a risk-taker? (not that you need one, mind you….)
How often do you act on your dreams and ambitions?
Now, reverse your way of thinking and imagine that your life was exactly as it should be. Everything, even in its disorder, has a cosmic order to it that makes sense on a level that you cannot see or comprehend. Your task now is to approach your guidance from the perspective that it will not dismantle your life; it will heal and enhance your life. You will start with small changes. You are not looking to exit the whole of your life any longer. Rather, you are looking to bring new life into your present life. Your task is to invest your guidance into acts of love and appreciation for your life and for those in your life. Consider these instructions:
First, sit still and enter the “observational mode”. Just let yourself observe your life.
Where does your attention go?
Past? Present? Future?
Who do you think about and why?
Next, your body, mind, psyche, and spirit is flooded with guidance. You feel this guidance in your cell tissue, in stress patterns, in chronic fear patterns, in things that irritate you that you want to change in others or in yourself, in ambitions you have that you keep promising yourself you are going to do something about someday, in promises you make to yourself to take better care of yourself; in short, you are overloaded with guidance. Now focus your attention on gathering this information.
MAKING CHANGES, MAKING CHOICES
>From that data, make a list of ten things that you know you should do, but have been postponing. Do not – repeat – do not make these great, big, huge projects.
You are going for small steps. This list can include the following types of examples that you probably would never even consider, but they are vitally important because they represent clearing out the past and that is often a “theme” to one’s patterns of guidance:
Once your list adds up to ten “to-do’s”, do some reflection on this list. The object of this exercise is to review how much guidance you are presently receiving to make changes in your life, even down to cleaning out a closet. You may balk at the very suggestion that cleaning out a closet qualifies as authentic spiritual guidance, BUT if you viewed the task of clearing out your closet as an archetypal exercise in cleansing your psychic past and calling aspects of your spirit back into present time, you would never approach such a task as “ordinary” again. Nor would you view that nagging voice that you just considered your own as being devoid of having a connection to a higher source of guidance. Everything that comes under the heading of a “should”, such as, “should-do, should-start, should-call, should-forgive, should-release” qualifies as guidance because a “should” is an indicator that you are losing power through a negative pattern. And if not classically negative, than an immature pattern whose time has come to release from your psyche.
Once that review is complete, pick ONE – just ONE task – and begin. Do not start with something demanding. Rather, pick ONE task and complete it. Then, go on to the next. Do NOT wait for too long in between these exercises.
I cannot emphasize enough how little difference it makes in terms of what exercise you pick but how vitally important it is that you be consistent with the requirements of your choice – for here is the gold in this exercise in spiritual alchemy:
Your warehouse of guidance is released through choice, yet it is not the size of the choice that matters. Rather, choose from the areas of your life where you are losing your power and begin there. Be realistic about your spiritual choices and about your spiritual stamina. And here’s the gold: even beyond the actual task you are doing – whatever that may be – is the greater spiritual task that is accomplished via any choice that you do consistently, which is to develop the power and stamina of your will and your spirit.
Let me end this Salon by wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving Day. I am personally very, very thankful for all of you in my life – more than words can say.
Love and God bless all of you,
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Keth Luke, editor, Jan Carter, Dr Light, our Cosmic, ET, and Earthly Crew