In a recent online circle of people coming together to cultivate our relationship to plants and the natural world, one woman shared about her experience of walking alone in the forest. As she walks, she says to herself, “I am guided.” Then, she follows where she is led, through the trees, over the rocks, into the brush.
This has stuck with me and brought up so much curiosity for me. This is how I aspired to live my life, letting go of my own “plans” and following where life energy takes me. I don’t often know why, or where, or how. But I aim to listen to this deeper spiritual voice, and to follow.
What does this look like in practice?
In the woods, this looks like trusting my intuition, or that greater guiding sense, as to where to put my feet next. On the path? Toward that tree? Stop and sit on this stone wall. Notice, with your eyes and ears, the porcupine asleep in the tree above you. Keep going. Turn around and see the leaf waving at you.
In life, I think it’s the same. Trust what comes up as right to do next. Stop and look at the stars above the barn built by my ancestors, the musty smell of barn giving me a deep sense of home. Slow down driving home and take in the long valley, the approaching dark, the silence of winter. That is right. That is good, too. Does there need to be anything else than just this?
**But all the things to do and see and people to meet up with you and the next invitation and the next job and the next daily task and the grocery list and the to-do list that is never-ending and fills up all on its own as soon as it’s emptied, just like the garbage! And paying bills! What about paying bills?**
In my every day, being guided looks like trusting when I don’t feel well and switching an in-person meeting to Zoom. It means taking a bath instead of watching that TV show again, the one I fell into for hours on Saturday (no judgement). It means looking at what’s in the fridge and co-creating a delicious meal of cauliflower beef bacon pizza – yum. It’s the little things. It’s not one big thing – it rarely ever is. 99% of the time, being guided means taking one step, then the next, then the next. They’re small steps. Being guided means following my body and my heart and my soul, instead of my head.
What holds me back from allowing myself to be guided? Over attachment to schedules, to-do lists and plans. Moving too quickly – so quickly that I fail to notice what sparks my curiosity or imagination. Just trying to get from the thing I’m currently doing to the next thing. Fear of the unknown. Yes, definitely, fear of the unknown.
What supports me in listening? Being around other people who are also interested in deep spiritual listening. Gathering with intention with those people. Slowing down. Trusting myself, my intuition and my imagination. Remembering my dreams. Taking time to pray, breathe, wander and just be – every day. Continuing my creative practices. Asking for help when I need it. Writing down my fears. Writing down my dreams.
How do you know if it’s ego or a deeper spiritual path that’s leading you? Practice and cultivating trust. Sometimes I don’t know, and I follow a path to see where it will lead me. I have to trust that when something isn’t right, I’ll receive signals from my body and respond accordingly. Signals might be tension, pain, illness, lack of energy, or just a feeling of something not being “quite right.”
I’m sharing my internal questions, musings and rememberings because it’s helpful for me to share. It brings me into a deeper experience to share, and it gives me some accountability to share. It helps me remember to remember, to welcome the dark unknown, and to continue to find joy and meaning in the deeply spiritual path I’m on. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for listening.