What if I told you that you always know what is right for you?
What if I told you that you do not need to outsource your wisdom, defer to other people, seek answers from outside sources, and that the answers, the real, true, optimal ones for you as a unique being, are already inside of you?
In my previous blog, I explained that you are the expert is what is right for you and I want to expand on the topic and go further, as well as present ways you can access your inner wisdom.
I believe that we are all born with inner wisdom and knowing and that we can originally access it easily. Babies and small children know what feels good and what doesn’t. They trust their inner compass. They express their bliss and displeasure loudly. It is very plain for all to see: when they are happy, their whole body is happy. When they are sad you can see it too.
But then, because we live in a society that expects us to obey and do as we are told, and because this is present at every level, whether it is parenting, education, or the corporate world, we slowly learn to ignore our inner knowing and trusts that authority figures know best what’s right for us. To be seen as lovable, acceptable, we slowly learn to fit within the constraints of what is seen as acceptable in our society. We learn to ignore what feels right, in favour of what is seen as right.
It can be hard to unlayer the learning of distrust of one’s instinct and to start accessing the inner voice inside. This is especially true when we enter an experience that is outside of our field of knowledge. And this is particularly true of the experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting. I see it a lot in my work as a doula. I see highly educated, intelligent individuals, who find it really hard to trust their instincts in the face of pressure from coercive maternity care policies.
The same is true when we become parents, and it can be tempting to choose to believe the opinion of so-called “experts” in parenting, rather than following one’s inner guidance. I wrote about this in my blog Why baby books and “experts” can really harm you after you have a baby . It is true for most new experiences in life, most choices, and most life transitions.
I see this being highlighted more than ever since the 2020 pandemic. There are so many conflicting pieces of information. Experts disagreeing with each other. Public health policies that treat people as a single entity and fail to take into account unique individual circumstances. Forever changing goalposts. Not knowing who and what to believe.
I am not saying that it isn’t worth consulting people who know more than you do about an area. But as I explained in my previous blog, they cannot make the decision for you, because they aren’t the ones who are going to live with the consequences of your decisions.
In navigating the perinatal period, and life changes, and for most of us in the current climate, learning to listen to our inner knowing can be a game changer, and bring out a sense of confidence and peace.
But how do you start to unlayer the belief that the answers always lie outside of yourself? How do you start listening to your inner voice if you have always let the opinion of others guide you?
There are many different ways to start accessing your inner wisdom. None of them is necessarily “right” or more powerful than the other. They are simply tools. The most important aspect is that you use one that works for you.
I have been on a massive journey myself to debunk what I thought I had to do. For example I use to believe I was shit at meditation because I thought you had to sit on a cushion in the lotus position, stare at a candle, and think of nothing. This cool little animated video went a long way in helping to undo this. It is surprising simple. All you need to do is have the intention to do so, and then start applying ways of accessing your own wisdom that work for you.
Here are some ideas to try to get you started. Remember, that, as with any new skills, the more you practice the better you become. After all, if you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t expect to do it without training. Start small. Start with the method you feel most excited about.
Set an intention
- The simplest way to access your inner wisdom is simply to set an intention to receive the guidance and see what happens.
- If trying meditation appeals to you, there are many apps, such as headspace (and plenty of others, some of which are free) around to guide you through the process in tiny, incremental steps. It doesn’t have to be a commitment to have 20 min a day, it could be as little as 5 min and still make a difference.
- Checkout the one moment meditation video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6eFFCi12v8
- Meditation does not even have to be a still process. One can meditate whilst walking, dancing, or other movement activities too. I am a fan of 5rhythms dancing (https://www.5rhythms.com/) and other conscious movement practices,These practises work much better for me than sitting still. I include my wild river swimming in my meditative practices.
- When you feel stuck, try moving gently, or going for a walk. Bonus if you can get in nature, as it is extra grounding.
- Walking barefoot on the grass/ground is a super fast way to discharge stress and ground yourself. From a place of grounding it’s easier to access one’s inner voice.
- Being in nature is generally grounding. I swim in the local river all year round and it is one of my favourite ways to de-stress and meditate.
- As with meditation, simply paying attention to your breath can help your mind quieten enough to hear the inner voice inside. Again there are many techniques available, but you already know how to breathe (after all you’ve been doing it all your life), and simply paying attention to your outbreath, and slowing it down slightly is all you need. Some meditation apps include breathing relaxation.
- This is a quick and simple way to gain a more heart centered state. Breathe gently for a couple of minutes, then imagine that you are breathing in and out through the centre of your chest.
- You can also try the HeartMath institute heart coherence technique .
- Some people find their inner voice communicate best with them via writing. Again it doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is a notebook and a pen, and a commitment to start with free writing 5 min a day. One thing that can help is simply to state in your mind before you write “what does my inner voice/soul (or whatever other word resonates most with you) want to tell me today”.
Learning to recognise your body’s response
- Did you know that you can use your body as a pendulum to get an answer to a question? Start by asking a very easy question, for example, do I like (favourite food or drink). Close your eyes and really feel inside your body. Feel your unique body’s response to the yes inside. Mine is a feeling of energy circulating in a circle around my heart, but yours might be completely different. Then ask yourself the same question for a food or drink you really dislike. Feel the response inside your body. Once you have familiarized yourself with your own response, you can start practicing with every day questions. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
- I cannot resist mentioning drumming because I love it. It is one of my preferred forms of meditation. You do not need to be musically trained. Research shows that drumming to a simple, repetitive, heartbeat like rhythms, causes the brain waves to slow down, which helps to get the mind chatter out of the way. I wrote a blog called Drum healing, bullshit? about my self-taught drumming journey. Over the last year I have drummed twice weekly in the local nature reserve first thing in the morning. It is the most nourishing spiritual practice for me.