What’s the one thing?
After 24 years of coaching individuals and groups from nearly every walk of life, I can say with confidence that the people who do really well over time are often not the smartest, or most well-read. They can be introvert or extrovert; seemingly self-assured or apparently neurotic and insecure.
What they all have in common is that they have an unusually high degree of trust in their own sense of knowing, and a willingness to follow that sense right up to (and occasionally over) the edge of an apparent cliff if that’s what it’s guiding them to do. In other words, they have a deep relationship with and abiding faith in the wisdom within.
Michael Neill: Coaching Tip 931
Of course, saying ‘the wisdom within’ is another way of talking about the knowledge that comes from God. This gets to the heart of one of the things I am trying to say: how do you get in touch with and access that wisdom within?
Michael Neill continues:
We’ve been innocently taught from the time we were born that the “right” answers to our most important questions are in the world around us, already out there waiting if only we can find them. So we search and we seek, and sure enough, there are thousands of people only too willing to share their best advice on how to find happiness, get everything we want, and outfox the other foxes to make our way in the world.
But meanwhile, the deeper mind – our inner wisdom – is quietly whispering (and occasionally shouting) words of guidance, common sense, and direction in our ear.
To hear the wisdom within – i.e. to listen to God – you must begin by recognising that you are out of touch with that wisdom and are looking for it in the wrong place. You will not find wisdom by thinking, reading books, or by listening to the advice of others. It is not that these are unimportant, but they are too safe: they are not the source of the deeper, inner knowing. No one else can tell you what God wishes to show you.
Let me be more clear about ‘thinking’. Thinking is important but the usual way you think something through is not the way to access deeper wisdom. Rather, your thinking mind is there to attend to and give a shape and vocabulary for your inner wisdom. Though it is an extraordinarily useful tool, do not mistake your thinking for the master craftsman who wields the tool. Do not mistake the pen for the poet.
Thinking is in the head. Wisdom comes from lower down in this body. This knowing most commonly speaks from the heart or the belly, but it can come from anywhere in this body. Inner wisdom communicates in many ways: images, memories, stories, ideas, physical sensations, symbols, colours, moods, imagination. This body receives the wisdom, the mind makes sense of it and gives it a language: there is a co-operation between body and mind, in which the mind is always the subaltern.
There is a common factor in all this: however wisdom speaks it has the feeling of rightness. You know it can be trusted, even if what is communicated is challenging and the consequences are scary.
So, what to do? Here’s what I suggest:
- find a quiet place;
- find a comfortable chair or other way to sit;
- give yourself time to settle: your mind quietens, this body relaxes;
- let your energy sink down so you relax and feel into your bottom, your back, your belly, your heart;
- take up residence in this body – come home to your self;
- let go, trust, and enjoy the sensation of being you;
- wait for and then listen to whatever comes to you;
- do not select, do not judge, simply listen;
- be kind;
- you might find it helpful to sit with a journal or a laptop and simply jot or scribble or doodle whatever comes;
- when you find yourself distracted, your mind taking over with ideas and fantasies and shopping lists and saying this is a waste of time, say ‘thank you’ to this immensely useful tool and come back to the physical sensation of sitting and breathing;
- [something final needs to go in here but I don’t yet know what!].
Practise this often in tranquil times so that it becomes second nature and is available to you when the going gets tough. This takes time and patience. “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”
This body knows. Rather, more accurately, this body is connected to the source of wisdom. Call it God if you must. If listened to regularly, frequently, this body will tell you everything you need to know.
2 thoughts on “How to find your inner wisdom”
Thank you Julian-
I am just beginning to explore compassionate mindfulness and I am wondering whether this listening in to the body is or can be linked to mindfulness
I hesitate to say it *is* mindfulness. You would have to ask a Buddhist mindfulness practitioner. However, it is certainly a practice of self-compassion and I am sure that it resonates with mindfulness.