Knowing from the inside out: The gift of intuition

Look! This little finger covers the eye and prevents the whole world from being seen. In the same way, this small mind covers the whole universe and prevents Reality from being seen.
Ramana Maharishi

The mind is a lot less important than we think it is. In our Western rationalistic cultures, we have given pre-eminence to the operations of the cognitive processes. Of course, the rational mind has its place and value in the scheme of things. But it is not meant to be the primary way we experience reality. Feeling or sensing is the primary way to know anything.

The mind judges, analyzes, measures, and compartmentalizes and thus creates a sense of separation and duality. The heart or the intuitive faculty embraces or becomes one with its object of attention. It knows it from the inside out and not from surface outside appearances and measurements.

So, to really get to know someone or something beyond the narrow confines of your mind’s myopic judgments, learn to quiet your mind and become one with that which you are focused on and then you will know.

“Open for me slightly your heart and I will open the world for you.”
The Zohar

“There is a voice that does not use words—Listen!

To find the way, close your eyes, listen closely and attend with your heart.

Be present in your own presence and then you can be present for others.

Agency and Grace, and the Story about my friend's third Ear

Happy New Decade! Welcome to the latest wave of *Fika for Your Soul*!

First off, I’d like to say thank you. It’s pure enjoyment connecting with you in this way. As 2020 is looking to be another year of collective growth and expansion, I’m looking forward to continuing to create pockets of space for reflection and the opportunity to take a breather right here, right now.

Listening seems to be on the agenda for many people these days. Whether we listen too much, or we don’t listen enough…

Typically we think of listening in two ways—the outer listening and the inner listening, where the outer listening (listening to and for external impulses), more often than not, takes precedence. At least consciously. 

In a conversation with a friend recently, she surprised me by sharing the story about her “third ear”. I liked it very much and got her permission to share it.

My friend, Anne, has been an Open Space facilitator for as long as Open Space  has been a thing (30+ years). Open Space is a form of self-organising and a powerful and simple way to run productive meetings, workshops, or conferences. In its most common form, the process centres around issue(s) of importance to any person willing to take some responsibility for it.

For those of you who have not come across Open Space Technology before, I recommend checking it out. It’s a fascinating, inspiring, and empowering meeting technology. It has Four Rules and One Law—the Law of Two Feet.

The Four Rules are:
1. Whoever come are the right people.
2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
3. Whenever it starts is the right time.
4. When it’s over, it’s over.

The Law of Two Feet says: “If, during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they can go to some more productive place.”  

The first time I participated in an Open Space facilitated conference I was bewildered by the lack of structure. I remember feeling very uncomfortable as my conditioned perspective had me wonder what could possibly come out of such an unstructured approach?

Well, it turns out, a lot.

One of the basic premises of Open Space is that you take responsibility for what interests you. For example, if you’re at a conference or workshop and you have something that you’d like others’ input on, you offer it as a topic for conversation. Each topic or issue is then assigned a meeting space. Participants are invited to decide which topics they are interested in and they apply the law of two feet and wander over to the relevant discussion. Sometimes lots of people show up, sometimes only a few. Other times none at all.

There’s no judgment. The law of two feet. 

As an Open Space beginner, I felt incredibly awkward, rude, and disrespectful if I decided to leave a discussion and go someplace else. But there’s no judgment as I am taking responsibility for what is important to me. Over time I have gotten used to the law of two feet as part of how Open Space works, but it clashes sometimes with how the world at large is run.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded that I ought to make the principle of the law of two feet conscious in all areas of my life because…

…what the principle is really about is agency and grace. Two things we can’t have too much of.

So, what about the story of my friend’s third ear?

Well, Anne and I had been talking about how we both follow resonance and divine (inner) guidance. How both are fundamental principles for how we make decisions and decide on next steps in our lives.

Working as a facilitator of groups where you open space for emergence, as Anne does, it’s important to give that emergence a voice. As Anne shared her story with me she explained how she had to learn to be present in every moment and just respond to each moment as it showed up and trust that her response would continue to hold the open space of agency and grace. She learned to listen to the energy of the group and follow it meticulously using her “third ear”, her ability to listen for resonance and dissonance in a group using her whole being, not just her physical ears.

I’ve never thought of my own practice of listening with my whole being as a third ear. I like it very much. Thanks, Anne!

If you were to describe your third ear, what would you say?

It’s a new year and a new decade. Last year was a fire hose of experiences and learning that took me way beyond my comfort zone. As a result, I have revisited my values and have come to some inspiring and interesting insights—insights that I’ll be coming back to in the not too distant future.

In the spirit of Open Space, I’ll close with some of the things that I’m bringing with me into this new year and decade. Things that will help me to show up fully in this year of 20/20 vision : agency, grace, and the principle of the law of two feet.

What things are you bringing with you into this new year and new decade?

Until next time…

..from my soul to yours,


*Fika for Your Soul* is about connecting with inspiration from everyday situations and conversations. It’s about discovery, reflection, leaning into, and stretching beyond…how we may see, understand, and express freedom, exploration, and leadership (among other things), all in the context of our daily lives. Fika (pronounced ‘Feeka’) is Swedish and means taking a [coffee/tea] break.

Your life is not a search for wholeness.

It is already an expression of That.

Stop trying so hard with your mind to find a purpose for your life. That will get you nowhere. 

Instead, still your mind and go within and you will experience the inherent wholeness which is at your core. You will know that you are a god/goddess in finite form who has come forth to temporarily take on your present personality so that you can increase your ability to be a conduit for and a manifestation of Love.

As Carl Jung said, “All of reality is not thinking.” Actually, most of it is not. Reality is a feeling or a vibration. You can’t understand anything unless you become one with it, unless you get inside it, unless you feel into it from the inside out. So, go within and feel first. Use your intuition and not your cognitive mind to find out who you are. 

The word intuition comes from a Latin word that means “to look or know from within.” So, learn how to go within and you will definitely know that your life and all of life is already whole. You no longer need to seek to find your purpose through a teaching, a teacher, a relationship, an experience, etc. It’s all there within you already. You are whole already and no longer need to look outside yourself for validation. Just quiet your mind, open your heart, and look within. There you will find your Self.

I know that all the above may seem rather esoteric, but I can assure you that what awaits you when you go into the Silence is so much more than any words can express. And once you have experienced it you will know what it means to feel and be whole and what to do with your life.

Learn to get in touch with the Silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

In the attitude of Silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.

If you follow anyone other than Your Self, you will surely get lost. Place your attention into things to discover how they “feel” rather than think about, judge, analyze, and measure them. Live from the inside out. Practice awareness and discernment rather than thought.

The mystery, magic, mastery, and majesty of life

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.
Thomas Merton

I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.
Kat Cathey

Most of us habitually try to control all aspects of our lives: our relationships, our work environments, our health, etcetera. We do this to feel safe and secure. We do this so that we can be happy. But we usually fail. The irony is that in tenaciously holding on so hard, we waste most of our precious energy in trying to control things. We exhaust ourselves trying to anticipate what may happen next and we squeeze all the joy, creativity, and spontaneity out of life. 

By spending so much energy trying to make sure that everything and everyone in our life follows a specific script that we have in mind, we miss myriad opportunities to really enjoy and experience life. We never allow for life to simply come to us. We are constantly trying to force it to “go our way.”  We leave no room for creativity, wonder, mystery, and magic.

We always want to know what is going to happen next, but by doing so we limit the limitless possibilities that are available to us. Life isn’t a script to be followed word by word, but a new, fresh potential that is waiting to be revealed one moment after another.

It is only when we allow for the unexpected and unknown that magic or real life can happen. All that is new, fresh, and joy-filled can only be found in the unknown. The known is stagnant and calcified.

Embrace the unknown and there you will find life. Tenaciously hold on to the known and there you will find stagnation and limitation.

Allow for the mysteries and magic of life to delight you. Learn to live in the moment, to be free and to be a master.  Learn to trust that you live in a “friendly universe” and it is all there for you. Each moment will take care of itself. Each moment is a new blessing—a new revelation. Become a master of the mystery, majesty, and magic of life.

Cease trying to work things out with your mind, it will get you nowhere. Let your whole life be led by intuition and inspiration. Let your whole life be a revelation.
Eileen Cady

In order to allow yourself to be in the moment, to experience the mystery and magic of it all, experiment with the following. Whenever you can, just stop, take a couple of deep breaths, and then become aware of your body by doing a brief body scan from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. This will bring you into the present.

Then allow your attention to be simply in the present, only focused on the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Suspend all thought and then just feel. Don’t think. Feel. Then ask and allow for an insight or an inspiration to reveal itself to you. And sit back, with your mind disengaged, and absorb and enjoy whatever you receive. It may come as a thought, an impression, an image or a feeling, but most importantly it will be new—a mysterious, magical, majestic new moment/experience that the Universe wants to reveal to you.

Be quiet in your mind, quiet in your senses, and, also, quiet in your body. Then, when all these are quiet, don’t do anything. In that state truth will reveal itself to you. It will appear in front of you and ask, “what do you want?”

Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence.
Deepak Chopra

Allow yourself now to drop into the essence that is beyond the limitations of any of these words.

Whenever we moderns pause for a moment, and enter the silence, and listen very carefully, the glimmer of our deepest nature begins to shine forth, and we are introduced to the mysteries of the deep, the call of the within, the infinite radiance of a splendor that time and space forgot.
Ken Wilber

A tremendous “knowing” comes effortlessly into the mind when it falls into Silence, when it gives up trying to understand, when its reel of stored images no longer projects abstract pictures onto the clean screen of simplicity.

This kind of knowing is transmitted to us as pure revelation, as a clarity untouched by words or other symbols of meaning. When we allow this knowing into our minds, our very lives become as clear and startling as this knowing.
Robert Rabbin

Compassion: The key to happiness

Mother Teresa once said, “There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

The one thing that we cannot get enough of, the one thing that there is no possibility of ever overusing, of ever over-receiving, or of ever over-giving, is Compassion or Love. As the saying goes; “No matter the question, Love is the answer.”

So, how can we learn how to fill up every day and be “filled to overflowing?”

Whenever you find yourself caught up in negative thought patterns, or negative emotional states, being self–critical or critical of another, or enmeshed in negative imaginings or worry; sit back and drink in Compassion. As you drink in that Compassion all the tension and negativity will start to release. And then you will remember and accept that your natural state of being is that of feeling and being in the Embrace, of being at Peace, of being in Love!

It’s quite easy to do, actually, especially if you choose to practice it regularly. So, here’s a meditative exercise that you can do daily.

Find a quiet place and moment, close your eyes, take a few deep, slow, cleansing breaths, and then just imagine someone you love, be they a loved one or an esteemed spiritual teacher/master, and see/imagine them right there in front of you. Look into their eyes, the mirror of the soul, and then feel their love flowing to you. Open up your heart to feeling their care, compassion and unconditional love for you. Send that same care, compassion and unconditional love back to them. Then send these feelings to others and to the whole world. Hold these images and feelings for a couple of minutes and in these a few minutes you will truly feel filled up and renewed.

I know this may sound simplistic, but it is a very profound exercise. If you take the time to reflect on your predominant thoughts and feelings, you will see that you practice anger, fear, worry, most of the time.  Why not practice Compassion instead?

Compassion connects us with who we really are and what is truly at our core. I would urge you to give yourself at least one dose of this daily, even for just a few minutes. You deserve it. Please try it. You will be transformed. You will definitely be very grateful you did.

As the Dalai Lama wrote:

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”

Belief, exploding hearts, and holy fire

During a zoom call with my friend Maria yesterday, we both realized that a missing ingredient in our intentions for the future was belief that what we wanted to happen could happen. We hadn’t yet chosen to believe, so we resolved to do so.

Sounds straightforward, right?

But only minutes after our conversation ended, as I sat quietly considering my own doubts and beliefs—my sense of what is and isn’t possible for me—I found myself gasping and sobbing as a flood of energy and comprehension filled and burst my startled heart.

This wasn’t a heart opening. This was a heart explosion, brought on by some fiercely muscular and tender thing, as if a dragon inside me had woken up and breathed holy fire in all directions.

It was a transient state, and despite the drama, a familiar one. Every so often, this dragon wakes and takes over my heart to remind me of what we can be or already are. What I perceive during these experiences is so big, so rich, so vast, and so poignant; awe/joy/sorrow/gratitude/love and a sense of magic come together, bowl me over, toss me around, and then retreat. I’m left awestruck and breathless, feeling almost too connected to the mystery and power of All That Is.

So I cry hard for a while—the kind of waterfall crying that gives way to lightness (go, endorphins!) after soaking a heap of tissues. Then I settle back into normal humanness and the blindered density of 3-D life, until the next time.

To readers whose medical or psychiatric Spidey Senses might be buzzing: I’m not talking about seizures, psychotic or manic episodes, or the like. These are glimpses into reality, not breaks from it.

Are they sensitivities or visitations? Maybe both. The fact that I can experience them without losing touch with reality means they’re part of my way of being human—a part I wish everyone could share. The currents of love and empathy they carry are HUGE.

Maybe this comparison will help:

Have you ever felt the shock of a soul gaze? If you look into another’s eyes and silently hold that look past the edge of decorum, past the unsettling sense of exposure, past wondering whether it’s okay to continue, and on to the point of pure intimacy, the combination of seeing and connecting becomes so powerful, it’s nearly painful. At that point I know I’m seeing the Divine. Knowing the gaze is revealing my own soul just as fully to the other person and feeling how thirsty I am for such connections both reassures and unsettles me. It seems to cut straight to the core of everything. And I do mean Everything.

But unlike a soul gaze, my “waking dragon” episodes have no other human witness. And there’s one other crucial difference.

Yes, this latest surge deposited me back in my normal so-called reality, but something had changed. I’ve learned to interpret each such episode as a Las Vegas-sized neon sign that whatever I was pondering just before the surge holds a key, a code, a catalyst—something important to my evolution, something that needed a raw blast of awe and life force to knock it free and get it moving.

This time, what I’d just been pondering was how to believe that the future I dream of is possible.

Message received and acknowledged. I choose to believe.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash.

This Christmas morning

This is from my collection of poems, Pluck Another Apple, Eve, And Finish It. I wrote this one many years ago today, and it still applies. Happy holidays, everyone. May you know peace, joy, love, and wonder.

Sleeves don’t reach my wrists

This Christmas morning, I sip tea,

wearing the past

like an old chenille robe,

too familiar to part with

but ill-fitting.

The sleeves don’t reach my wrists

the way they used to.

My arms keep growing.

Photo by Quincy Alivio on Unsplash