Walking with my friend Stephanie the other day offered one of those sought after but elusive “ah ha!” moments. She was speaking of her frustration with the conflicting advice she has received over the years for digestive problems and fatigue. She concluded by asking me, “What do you think?” She had asked me this numerous times before and I was feeling very impatient with her. I blurted out my response, unmodulated by convention or trying to be nice. “You are an intelligent woman, Stephanie, and have more experience with your body after all these years than anyone else. Check in with yourself and ask your body what it needs instead of obsessively looking outside yourself for answers.” Consulting with experienced professionals is often appropriate, but she heard the truth in these words, felt empowered, and thanked me for the encouragement to trust herself.
Experience has shown me if my response had been solely for my friend, I would have said what came to me and let it go, but the strong impatience I felt let me know there was something for me to learn as well. Several nights later, I had a dream in which I saw the following words written as a title: You Are Ignoring Your Own Wisdom. I woke up the next morning knowing this was true for me, for my friend, and for so many of us. Ah ha!
I have been in practice as a licensed acupuncturist for almost 30 years and have seen thousands of patients. From the early days of my practice, I have focused on treating my patients as individuals. However, it has taken me many years to see the patterns emerging in the clinic population that reflect on the way we are now living, often to the detriment of our health and well being.
Over the last several decades, humans have somehow managed to do the unthinkable: We have distanced ourselves so effectively from nature, the body, and our inner knowing that we can no longer remember how to access the wisdom within us. We pretend the rhythms of nature do not apply to us, that somehow the universal laws that have governed human beings forever do not bind us. We have lost the awareness of our connection to nature and thus to ourselves. We no longer know the experience of being whole, of our bodies being one with our hearts and minds. The bottom line: We do not trust our own experience and choose to ignore our common sense.
This culture of willful ignorance drives us to live in a way that depletes our essence and leaves us unfulfilled, tired, and old before our time. Even though we may live longer, many of us are not living better. As the researcher Brené Brown states, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.” Sound familiar? It certainly does to me, as I have lived out this pattern myself and now see it on a daily basis in the clinic.
It is crucial for an individual’s healing, and I believe for the healing of our world, to make a choice to do things differently, to be different. The remedy for this willful ignorance, this turning away from common sense wisdom, is receptivity. Being receptive to life is the ground of all healing, transformation, and change. We open to life, receive what it gives us (the pain as well as the joy), and apply what we learn to the way we live each day. Aligning our actions with our inner knowing is the way to turn mere information into lived wisdom.
Are you ready to change? Every day for 15 days, explore what happens when you do the following practice. Observe how it helps you open to your own wisdom and what effects that has on your life. Sit in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for 15–30 minutes, no phone or other devices on. Slowly breathe into the belly and slowly release, until you feel centered in your body. Imagine the energy coming down out of your head and into your heart or lower belly, whichever feels right to you.Take a moment and notice whatever comes up in the present moment. Notice where the attention goes in your body and any images, colors, words, or memories that arise. Now turn your attention inward, to the part of yourself that is very wise.
- Allow yourself to soften, open, and become receptive. If any judgment or blame arises, let them go and return to open receptivity.
- State your intention, using your own words, to the effect of: I am here now. I will stay in relationship with you and listen to what you say.
- Ask a meaningful question that comes up, or begin with one of these: What is important for me to know at this time? What aspect of my being needs attention: body, mind, heart, spirit? What does life want of me now?
- Listen calmly and patiently. You may not get any information the first few times you do this practice. It may take some perseverance to re-establish this connection.
- Commit to listening for your inner knowing and pay attention to any hints that come. It may happen after your practice session, through a dream, something you read, or perhaps a chance encounter.
- Sit with and acknowledge whatever your experience is, however challenging or mundane.
- Briefly journal your experience and what you learned about yourself.
- Check in with your wise self to answer the on-going inquiry: What is important for me to know in this moment to guide the next step of my journey?
I am absolutely certain that when you practice receptivity and reconnect to your inner knowing, life will guide you toward more self-awareness and satisfaction. This transformation is not just for you: Your receptivity, awareness, and wholeness are essential contributions to the healing of the world.
Mary Saunders has over 25 years of experience in Oriental medicine, Mary is a practitioner, an educator, and a coach who speaks from a place of direct experience. She is the author of Rhythms Of Change: Reclaiming Your Health Using Ancient Wisdom And Your Own Common Sense.