Optimize Your LifeEpisode #6: Cultivate Inner Wisdom
Welcome back. Today we are going to talk about something that I think is actually pretty meaningful. It is about your inner wisdom and how you can cultivate more of it. Oftentimes people have heard of this term. They understand what’s implied by this concept of inner wisdom. They may not know how to cultivate it. And if you don’t already know how to access your inner wisdom, whatever that might mean, which we’ll find out, then you want to stick around and find out more.
So we all have a voice and that voice is what we listen to when we’re making decisions, when we are facing new situations. The question is whether we’re listening to it or not. Now, some people call it inner wisdom. Other people might call it your inner guidance, your inner voice, your intuition, your insight. So it could be a lot of different things.
Brian Lee, the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, defines inner wisdom as “a knowledge that comes from quieting the mind, setting aside the ego, setting aside one’s ideas of how things should be, and listening and feeling for what feels truly right.”
So I thought that we would use his definition as we unpack this idea of inner wisdom and really figure out how to think about it and how to access it.
So step one, he talks about quieting the mind. So you might ask yourself, “How can I do that? How can I quiet the mind?”
Well, a simple way of doing that is just taking a few deep breaths. When you do that, notice how your mind slows down considerably and your body relaxes. When you focus on the inhale and the exhale, you slow down your thoughts. So that would be step one, just slowing everything down and getting that out of the way so that you can get to the stuff underneath all the noise.
Step two, he says is to set aside the ego. So what does that actually mean? And how do we do that?
So the ego is really about finding your voice that’s trying to take care of you. It’s trying to look at a situation from all different perspectives that keep your identity intact, keep your perceived notion of yourself in tact. And that sounds really valuable. Doesn’t it? But at the same time, it can really get in the way of hearing the truth.
And so what you want to do is you want to get to a place where you’re looking at your situation in a neutral way, from the perspective of an observer. So imagine that you are in this current situation and it’s helpful if you have something in mind that you can work with, as you’re listening to this podcast episode.
So looking at your situation in a neutral way might mean taking out all of the opinions, the judgments, the biases. Anything that doesn’t leave you looking at it objectively. And so when you’re looking at things in an objective way, you’re just looking at facts and facts are neutral. It’s only our thoughts that make them feel positive or negative. So you want to leave all that aside now that you’ve quieted your mind, you have an opportunity to really look at things in a calmer way.
Step three. He says to set aside your ideas of how things should be. And so this is really about the kinds of judgments that we make. So your shoulds, you might have all kinds of statements about how things should be, how people should be, you should be. So you want to set all that aside. You want to also remove any sort of judgements that make things not neutral. So again, we’re talking about getting to that place where you’re removing all of these thoughts, judgments ideas, opinions, all that aside. And removing all the worries. So I’m just adding these additional elements because I think that’s going to help you.
Once you’ve removed all of that noise, then ask yourself “if I weren’t afraid, what would I do?” Or another question you can ask yourself is “what is in my best interest?” and then listen to the answers.
Step four is listen and feel for what feels truly right. Now, this is self-explanatory.
So now that we have these four steps kind of broken down, let’s have some additional questions. So sometimes people might ask “is my inner voice always right? How do I know that I can listen to it?” It can be challenging to find this voice especially when you’re stuck in a self sabotaging pattern. That’s when your subconscious mind gravitates toward the familiar. I’ve had clients say that their voice led them to bad decisions. And if that’s your experience, you might have some self doubt. Do you really have to listen hard? Is the inner voice right? Well, typically it is, but sometimes we get those two voices confused. We get the voice that is really our subconscious voice that’s trying to stay efficient and keep on doing the things that it’s always done, keep your patterns going because just takes less effort, takes less thought. But you gotta pull that aside and not let that confuse you as that’s your intuition. It’s not. It’s not your intuitive voice. It’s not your inner wisdom. That’s something that’s being filtered through your lens of familiarity and it’s trying to keep things in that cozy little nest for you. So that’s definitely not it.
So that’s where step two comes in. It’s important to take on new lenses so you have a menu of new options available to you. And we said in step two is where you’re really setting that ego aside, looking at things from that neutral perspective. So when you become the observer, you have an opportunity to go beyond what you typically think of. What is your story? The things that define you, what you can and cannot do. Let all of that go to the side so that you can be focused on the truth and that’s where you access the wisdom.
So why am I sharing all this with you? It’s because it’s so easy for us to become distracted by our rationalizations or fears or worries about what other people will think, what we think we should do or wanting to please other people. Your inner voice is your true self. And by quieting down enough and removing all the mental clutter, you can tap into your true wisdom.
This comes in super handy when you need to make important decisions. And one other note about that. Some people feel that inner wisdom, feel that insight is something that happens in their mind. Kind of like in your mind’s eye or some people call it the third eye. You kind of have this inner knowing, this light bulb moment.
But for other people, it’s more of a gut feeling. They feel it more in their body. It’s a bodily sensation where you just know that you’re aligned with things correctly, that it feels good. Let’s say you’re dating and you’re just not sure is that the guy is the right guy for you. You have a different sensation when it’s attraction based on familiarity versus “I just know in my gut that this feels right.”
I have a friend who, when she came across her husband, she looked into his eyes and she felt very at home with him. And so that’s just intuitive knowing.
Her inner wisdom was shining through there. And so you might have had this experience, maybe when you were shopping for a certain item, maybe you went gift shopping and you knew that this is something that your family member or your friend would really appreciate and love. Or when you had to go shopping, let’s say for a dress or a suit if you were going to some event.
Perhaps you came across the item and you felt like “this is the one where I don’t need to keep looking.” What happens when we’re not listening to our inner wisdom is we’re always having FOMO. We’re trying to find out well, “Maybe I should keep looking. Maybe I’ll find something cheaper. Maybe I’ll find something nicer. Maybe I’ll find something that fits better.” That just keeps you going and going in circles. But when you listen to that inner wisdom and you’re tapped into that intuition, you feel like this is it. “I just need to stop here. I’m going to save myself a whole bunch of time and a whole bunch of running around.
And I’ve had that experience. I’ve had it shopping, have had it when I needed to trust. Let’s say I’m investing in coaching with somebody, let’s say I’m taking on new clients, or let’s say I’m buying a house. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you have that inner quiet that you can listen and really get tuned into what’s right for you, that’ll show up.
And so let’s talk a little bit about different ways that you can access your inner wisdom in case you need some additional help. So I’m going to share with you three different ways.
The first one is meditation. And the reason meditation works so well is because you quiet everything down, like we said. And so it’s the perfect environment for you to remove the clutter and to really tap into the right answer. So one way that you can do it is you ask yourself the question that you have, the question that you want an answer for, and then you go into your meditative state. And then just see what shows up. So you’re not trying to control the process. You’re just kind of clearing your mind. You’ve asked the question and now you’re just creating that empty space for something to show up. And typically what we see is that it shows up and sometimes it shows up right in that meditation that you’re doing in that moment. And sometimes you pose a question, you do your meditation, nothing comes up and then it shows up later in the day, or it shows up in your dream, but you’re activating that part of your mind. So it will show up for you. So that’s one way.
Another way is journaling. And for some people it means take out a piece of paper and just write and write and write and tap into that inner voice by removing all of that other stuff. You just write it out. And then when you’ve written it all out, all of a sudden you’re tapping into what’s underneath. So that’s one way to do it.
Another way is to take out your piece of paper, write your question that you want an answer to at the top of the page. And then you might walk away. You might go do something else and just having that question top of mind will produce some ideas.
I recently spoke to somebody who said they did that. They had some questions about marketing. And so they asked themselves this question of “What would be valuable if I wanted to help somebody who has a blog?”.And so they wrote down that question and they went mountain climbing and while they were on that climb they weren’t thinking about work, but all of a sudden, all these things started to pop into their mind. And so they got back home. They wrote down all their ideas on that piece of paper and they came up with a lot more ideas than they otherwise would have.
But for other people, it might just be sitting with that piece of paper, writing that question and just being quiet and waiting until some ideas pop up in your mind. And sometimes that can happen really fast. So sometimes it actually happens faster than you can write. In which case you might want to get a tape recorder and just record yourself.
And the third way that you can access your inner wisdom is through movement. So typically when you’re in a state of flow is when you’re going to notice it the most. So if you love walking in nature, or let’s say dancing or swimming, or you love playing an instrument, or even when you’re doing your house cleaning, for example, something that is kind of monotonous and you’re not thinking a lot, you’re kind of just in the experience. Or this happens for a lot of people in the shower, right? You’re just kind of there. And all of a sudden something pops into your mind. So you want to get into some movement or water and these will often cultivate a lot of creativity.
You can use any of these techniques to really tap into that inner wisdom.
So just to recap, We said that when it comes to inner wisdom, you want to quiet the mind, you want to set aside the ego. You want to set aside all of your shoulds and judgments and worries, and you want to really listen to what feels right. And that could be a bodily sensation, or that can be in your mind, just like that inner knowing. And three ways that you can tap into it include meditation, journaling, and movement.
So I would love to hear what questions you’ve tried this with and how this process has worked for you. Or if you’ve tried other ways of tapping into your inner wisdom, please share those in the comments. Have a fantastic week. I’ll talk to you again soon. Take care.