How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 3

Use your intuition

This week’s blog is on Chapter 3 of How to Heal Yourself and is about using our intuition. 

Our intuition is one of our greatest gifts, which helps point us in the direction we need to go in in order to promote healing. We can use our intuitive skills to help us decide what treatments we use, what lifestyle changes we make and how we might change our lives in order to optimise our healing. Yet many of us ignore our intuition in favour of logic and rational thought. 

Intuitive thinking is unlike logical thinking; it doesn’t always make sense. It can bring us answers in flashes of inspiration or come about through signs and synchronicities. We don’t always believe intuitive answers because they don’t necessarily make logical sense. They appear from our right brain without a logical train of thought. The left brain thinks in a linear way, one thought leading to another to another and sometimes to a conclusion. But the right brain thinks in pictures and patterns and has sudden inspirations and ideas. 

These sudden ideas that come to us are worth following.

Intuition happens all the time if we pay attention to it. We just have to follow the leads it throws up and we begin to find answers to our problems that we hadn’t been able to find with our logical and rational brain. Of course we don’t get rid of our logic; we can use it to look at things in a rational and methodical way in concert with our intuitive thinking. We use both together and find our path.

We need to research and find answers that lead us on the best path to healing. This is done by using our rational brain to look at the information in a logical way but also by following intuitive hunches about how to improve our health. Health is such an individual thing because no two people are alike and an illness is an individual experience. It is a dis-ease of our body that we need to pay attention to and work out our own individual path to healing.

Intuition comes in varying forms and most of us have a preferred method of intuition. The four main methods of intuition are clairvoyance (clear seeing), claircognisance (clear knowing), clairaudience (clear hearing) and clairsentience (clear feeling). Each uses a different sense to convey intuitive information.

Our intuition is like an inner guidance system. It lets us know when we are on the right path and when we are not. It’s not just the right side of the brain but our gut and our feelings. They all connect to provide us with an inner guide. This inner guide is connected to spirit and soul. It knows what is best for us. Yet often we don’t pay it enough attention. We listen to our logical thinking when we need to listen to our inner guide instead. Whether it is through seeing or hearing, knowing or feeling we need to get used to paying attention to our intuition. We need to trust and follow it. 

This chapter includes ways to pay attention to and follow our intuition better. Next week’s blog will be on Chapter 4 which is all about paying attention to body, mind and spirit..

Transformation 4 – the mind

Transformation 4 – the mind.

Having begun the transformation of the physical body I decided that my next step would be to begin to transform my mind. I decided I needed to look into meditation and I came across a free meditation course that was included with my membership to a particular college. I had mostly rebelled against meditation in the past and felt that I meditated in a certain way when I exercised so I thought that was enough. I had done a little meditation and relaxation in yoga, in a hypnosis course I once did and as part of my job at times but I had never really embraced it.

I decided it was time to embrace it.

Not only did I decide to begin meditating but I also decided it was time to take up yoga again.

I began the meditation course and because I had already done some of the exercises I found myself getting impatient and wanting to jump ahead. I hated the progressive muscle relaxation practice so I skipped that week but otherwise I tried to practice every morning before work. I found it very hard to quiet my mind but gradually I began to improve.

I had been meditating for a couple of months and I was still such a beginner – my mind was reluctant to cease its chatter. Focus on the breath. Focus on the gap between thoughts. The gap between my thoughts was so brief as to be mostly non-existent. But gradually I was learning how to sit and enjoy the practice of just sitting. I was learning how to allow thoughts to come and go, noises to come and go, everything to just come and go. It was as the Buddha observed, everything comes and then it goes, nothing is permanent.

We are so used to doing and doing and doing that to sit and breathe and spend time with our inner self is alien. Initially I would sit there paying attention to the breathing and thinking way too much about what I would do when the meditation was finished. Eventually I was able to just sit and focus on my breath and try to find the gap between my thoughts. I was learning how to focus on the peaceful place inside me that has been overrun by my outer life. I was learning that the peaceful place inside of me is deep and seemingly unknown. Yet it is also the essence of myself that has been covered up with layers of ego and too much thinking.

My work in medicine and my writing are both pursuits where thinking is useful yet my mind is so full of thoughts that they crowd out the part of my brain that doesn’t think in that way. The left side of my brain thinks in words and sentences, it is the incessant monkey mind that chatters away all the time. The right side of the brain thinks in pictures and concepts and is often drowned out by the left side. I think the meditation was helping me quiet the left side of my brain and allowed me to hear more from the right.

I have written quite a bit about the way the two sides of the brain work in my book Holistic Medicine and although it is something of a metaphor it helps me pay attention to what is happening with my thoughts. When I am overrun with thoughts that often go around in circles I become aware that I am paying too much attention to my logical left brain and too little attention to my intuitive right brain. While meditation can help my quiet the left side of the brain unless I consciously pay attention to my over thinking I often get stuck in the logical and physical side of my life.

What I really hoped to achieve with the meditation and yoga practice was to become more attuned to my inner or higher self. To tune into that part of me that is connected to everything else – the source energy, universal consciousness, spirit, god. In connecting with this inner self I hoped to be able to better align my inner and outer selves in order to live a more authentic life. To keep becoming the best version of myself I can be.

After meditating for some months I gradually found myself feeling less and less inspired to practice. Somewhere I lost the momentum and ended up going backwards. I struggled to do my meditation, going some days without even sitting and trying. The days I did try to practice my mind just didn’t want to still, my body felt anxious to be up and doing. My yoga practice was also more difficult; my back got sore, my left knee hurt. What was happening?

It seemed as if my ego was fighting back, trying to regain lost ground and it was succeeding. Why did the ego feel so threatened by my new way of life? And why was it so easy to fall back into the old way of being? They say if you practice a new habit for 30 days it becomes a way of life. I had been meditating for eight weeks and doing yoga for almost four. Yet something within me was trying to sabotage my plans.

Ego is always trying to blind us to our dual nature – the spiritual and the physical. It is trying to have us believe that only the physical is important. It would like us to believe that we are who we think we are rather than a deeper or higher self that is connected to the rest of the universe and to source energy. Ego wants us to believe we are separate beings when really we are all connected via invisible energy connections.

I had fallen for ego’s tricks. I had started to focus more on the physical and less on the spiritual aspects. Despite meditation and yoga and gratitude and thoughts of service to others I had forgotten to connect with my higher self while doing these things and had become task oriented. I was too busy doing (even though I was doing ‘spiritual’ things) and had forgotten to be. Mind you I had also stopped writing despite my aim to write every day.

As I write I begin to reconnect with my higher self and see how much I was driven to do the spiritual thing rather then be my authentic self. To be spiritual isn’t necessarily about doing spiritual things but rather about being the person you are meant to be. How could I connect with my higher self on a daily basis? Obviously the meditation was one way but it didn’t seem to be working that well. Maybe I wasn’t finding the stillness as well as I might. Or maybe it just didn’t carry on into my day’s work. When I write I connect to my higher self but I couldn’t write all day long. I had to find a way to be in alignment while I saw patients and went about my day to day life. So I took a few days off to regroup and see where I was getting off path.

The first thing I did was step right back and try to find the bigger picture of what was happening. Why was I going backwards? While ego is in control then higher self can’t be. This seemed to be the problem. How could I let higher self have control of things rather than ego.

Then one day I had the weird experience of waking up with one thought on my mind – let go. I filed it away to think about later and got up to do my meditation. I chose a guided meditation I hadn’t done in a while and found the whole thing was about letting go. I opened my Facebook a little bit later and there was a cartoon entitled ‘how to let go’ with a picture of a leaf falling from a tree.

There was clearly a message here. I had to learn how to let go.

Let go of what?

The need to control?

Letting go of our need to control our lives is critical to becoming more aligned with our inner self. Our ego would love to control everything and it has us believing that this is possible. And it is partly possible when we are fully aligned with inner self and the source of all that is.

I decided to let go of my need to control my transformation in a logical way. Instead I decided to do those things that brought me joy and happiness and not focus on the spiritual practices that I believed I ‘should’ be doing. I stopped meditating because I reasoned it wasn’t bringing me any joy at all, instead it was turning into something I felt I had to do. Yet another task to be completed each day. I stopped pushing myself to do yoga and instead just did it when I felt like it. I spent time walking in nature and time sitting doing nothing and I let go of the need to transform into a spiritual being. I already was a spiritual being and I didn’t need to meditate or do yoga to get in touch with my inner self and spirit. It was as if walking was my meditation and writing was a spiritual practice.

Sometimes we have preconceived ideas about what we should do to be spiritual or more authentic but really it’s all about being ourselves and doing those things that bring us joy. We don’t necessarily need to meditate every day or go on silent retreats or spend time in prayer. There is no right way to transform into a more authentic person only the way that works for each of us as individuals.

I was finding out the spiritual practices that worked for me. Part of this discovery was trying things that others found useful but I didn’t have to become a slave to things if they didn’t work for me. I suspect I might try to meditate again and I’m sure I’ll be doing yoga on and off all my life but as daily practices they had become a chore and they weren’t bringing more joy to my life.

Sometimes it’s good to just examine the parts of our lives to determine whether the things we do are worthwhile or whether we’re just doing them from a sense of obligation or duty. Even spiritual practices such as mediation, prayer, yoga, silence can become chores if we don’t continually examine how they are working for us.

As I began to relax into my life and not worry about meditating or getting up early or doing yoga every day I began to feel more comfortable with what was happening in my life. I think sometimes we need to just let go of all the achieving to work out what is important to us. Letting go of the need to transform into some preconceived idea of what I might look like if I was well aligned with my inner self. My preconceived ideas where more about my image of what a spiritual person might look like than how I might be if I was well aligned and authentic.

Transforming the mind is an ongoing challenge for me. Trying to pay better attention to the intuitive right side of my brain and less to the chattering monkey mind of the left side. Being aware that I can tune into my inner self through many practices – meditation, mindfulness, walking, dreams, writing, having meaningful conversations, loving people, practicing gratitude, being of service or being in nature. What I learnt most from trying classical meditation was that I don’t have to meditate to be in touch with my spiritual side and that finding joy in all my activities is more important than being tied to certain spiritual practices.

 

 

Skills for living an authentic life 5

One of the most important skills for living authentically is to follow our passions. If we fail to do so then we leave part of our inner self unfulfilled and unexpressed. It’s like hiding part of ourselves away and not showing the world who we truly are. Our passions and our inner callings reveal much about our authentic self and they demand that we pay attention.

Many people are not sure what their passions are but when once a passion gets hold of you there is no doubt about its power to change. And it’s never restricted to one thing. There is the passion that grabs hold of you when you fall in love, the passion that grips you when you have a baby or start a new job or a new project. Some passions are obviously creative projects but many people discover passion in sport or outdoor activities. The range of passions that can be followed is unlimited. The important thing is not to ignore the calling.

For many years I ignored the call to write; I would dabble with various projects but never fully commit to them. It wasn’t until one of my best friends died that I realised I needed to follow the call and commit more fully to writing. I actually quit my job and spent the next year writing, and farming alpacas. I allowed the passion to take hold of me and I followed my intuition. It led to the beginning of my first book Holistic Medicine. I ended up returning to General practice, which is a nice balance to my writing because patients teach me so much more about life and healing. I still try to write as much as I can especially when the urge is really pushing me to do so.

Of course I have other passions in my life that I try to pay attention to such as my relationships, the garden and sustainability, walking in the bush, reading and thinking. And I am always open to a new passion taking hold of me. This is important in living authentically – to listen to our inner callings and respond to them. They come from spirit and our inner self and they open us up to possibilities that we don’t necessarily see when our focus is on the everyday.

For those people who don’t feel they have any passion in their life it is important to recapture that feeling of direction and drive that passions bring. Try to recall how you felt when you were gripped by some project and imagine what new things might inspire you. Be open to change as this often brings about new opportunities. Remember all those things that you have been passionate about in the past and resurrect some of them that you feel inspired to revisit. Use your intuition to explore new possibilities for passion and joy. When you are inspired to begin something new don’t let the everyday obligations stand in your way. Always spend time doing what you love and what brings you joy. It doesn’t have to be grand or world changing it just has to be yours. Listen to your inner self.

 

Disclaimer. This web site is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

Skills for living an authentic life 4

In the fourth blog in this series I will be looking at how to listen better to our intuition. In my last blog I wrote about the different sides of the brain; the left side that is logical and rational and the right side that is intuitive. Our inner authentic self is always trying to enter our conscious awareness and intuition is a pretty direct way to do this. Both logic and intuition are useful skills but most of us have come to rely more on logic and we forget to trust our intuition.

Intuition is not solely located in the right side of the mind. It is also in our body, especially in our gut. We get gut feelings that provide us with important information about a situation or person and this information isn’t at all logical. Or sometimes we feel something in our bones or just know something in our heart centre.

Our intuition can also speak to us through our senses – we can receive messages through visions or hearing messages or through an inner knowing – clairvoyance, clairaudience and claircognizance.

There are many ways that our intuition tries to get our attention but we can be more open to accessing our intuition if we have the intention. By intending to be open to intuitive messages and paying attention to them by following through on their messages we allow our inner self to speak with us more directly.

We can use traditional intuitive tools – tarot, runes, oracle cards and the like. These tap into our intuition in quite concrete ways providing us with information that we might not otherwise be able to access. By using these tools regularly we become more practiced at allowing our inner self to speak to us directly.

We can also access our intuition through our dreams and visions. Sometimes there are obvious and direct messages or we can pay attention to the symbols and images. To discover the deeper meanings behind our dreams we might read dream books or see a psychologist skilled in dream interpretation.

Another way that intuition comes to our attention is through intuitive flashes and hunches. A sudden thought might jump into our awareness or we might feel a strong urge to do something spontaneous. These intuitive flashes can lead to moments of creativity as new ideas come to us or might lead us to meet people who help us on our path. Following out intuitive hunches may take a leap of faith but as we follow our intuition more we become more in tune with it and its connection to our authentic self.

Intuition is a pretty direct line to our inner self yet many of us have forgotten how to trust this skill. We rely more on our logic and our rational brain and try to think our way out of problems. We plan out our lives and forget to let spontaneity and creativity help us follow our path more closely.

 

 

Disclaimer. This web site is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.