Moving Into Stillness with Erich Schiffmann
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Listening For GuidancePrint View 

The Practice of Spontaneous Wisdom

When you experience yourself in stillness, you will intuit a new way of using your mind. You will be taught - from within the stillness - how to receive moment-to-moment inner guidance during the day from the Infinite Mind, and you will be given individually pertinent spiritual teachings.

These are two valuable and practical themes because with inner guidance and spiritual insight, you can know with certainty the most appropriate thing to do at any given moment in your life. Inner guidance is the means of right action. It is how you can know what to do. It is your deepest knowing made conscious. And as you learn to trust and make use of this faculty, it can become your decision maker. The more experience you have with it and the better you get at utilizing the information available to you, the more convinced you'll be of just how wonderful an attribute of mind this actually is. Listening for guidance is the technique of spontaneous wisdom.

The spiritual teachings you'll receive from within your silent mind will be the source of new meaning in your life, revealing to you lift's inherent meaning. Spiritual teachings are communications of truth about the way things are. They will answer your conscious and unconscious questions concerning the nature of who you are and how the world works. Inspiring and guiding you in your thought, speech, and behavior, they will come in the form of clarifying insights and sudden inspirations, creative ideas, intuitive knowings, life circumstances, people and situations, hunches, premonitions, desires, attractions, and spontaneous impulses. Spiritual principles will then no longer seem foreign or irrelevant, divorced from daily life, and they will no longer be gleaned from books and teachers only. The teachings, taught from within, will he pertinent to you and your life. They will make sense to you, meaningful sense.

As this happens, life takes on a growing significance. You begin to understand and appreciate in a totally new way the fact that your life is indeed absolutely worthy of your fullest attention. And as you give it the undivided attention it deserves, moment by moment by moment, your life will become increasingly interesting. Remember, it's difficult to be interested in something if you are not paying attention to that thing. You may be listening to the most beautiful sonata in the world, but you won't know until you give it your attention and listen, if you join with it, do yoga with it, become one with it. As you do this with your life you will feel young again, renewed, refreshed, regenerated, optimistic, confident, secure, at peace ... and you will experience authentic happiness. That is, happiness without guilt.

Experience yourself in silence, then - sit motionless, quiet your mind, immerse yourself in the feeling-tone of your own unique being, and then simply be aware of what you are experiencing of the world around you and within. This profound practice will clarify who you are and what your life purpose is and also make available the means to fulfill that purpose intelligently.

Of course, you will continue to experience life's exotic mystery, the wonderful attribute that makes total comprehension impossible, but the confusion will be gone. And as you allow yourself to savor the feeling-tone of your own mysterious being, you will clearly understand that you are a creation or expression of the creative God Force and that you are therefore literally and eternally connected to this Force because you are one with it. And this being so, you are in the wonderful position of being able to receive universal guidance that benefits all and is in harmony with every living thing.

The Aerial Perspective

Imagine you are in your car driving down the freeway. It's a clear day, and from where you are in your car, you can see the road up ahead for the next mile or two. You can't see any farther than that, but from where you are the road appears clear. The traffic flows smoothly without congestion. But, say up around the bend in the third mile beyond your range of vision, there may be a traffic jam. And because you can't see it, you unknowingly drive smack dab into the middle of it.

This is why traffic helicopters were invented. From where a helicopter is - high above the earth  - it can see the total picture. From where you are - on the ground - your vision is limited. You can't see around the corner, much less what's happening three miles in the future. To the helicopter, however, it's obvious that in three miles you'll be stuck. It easily sees the road congestion up ahead and can also easily see other routes where traffic flows freely. It sees the same picture as you see, but from a different angle, and so its view includes things yours doesn't. From the ground you cannot have the full perspective of the traffic that the helicopter has from the air. It has the aerial view, the superior perspective.

If you have a radio in your car, however, you can tune in to the helicopter's traffic broadcast that will suggest a quicker traffic-free route, or advise you about more scenic roads, or how to get to the beach from where you are. Whatever information you need, it can supply. This is clearly to your advantage, especially if you live in an area where traffic tends to be congested. But if you radio isn't turned on or if you are listening to a different station, you won't hear the broadcast. Maybe you're not even aware that such a broadcast exists and so won't know to tune in, and therefore you won't hear it even though it is always there.

Your mind is like your car radio, and the "cosmic broadcast" is continuously happening inside you. In other words, there is a larger perspective available to you - the aerial perspective - about what happens in your life. When you are on the ground, so to speak, your outlook and perspective on your life are necessarily limited, no matter how educated you are or how large your repertoire of life experience. You can only see so far and therefore have only so much information. But just as you can tune in to the helicopter's traffic broadcast with the aid of your car radio for instant access to an aerial perspective, so you can have ready access to an expanded knowledge, a larger perspective, a more inclusive outlook on your entire life with a simple shift of attention.

You have the capability to transcend your necessarily limited ground-level awareness for the vaster perspective of the helicopter. You can use your mind to hear the cosmic broadcast coming from the infinite Mind of God. The wisdom and information from this larger-perspective broadcast will help you navigate your way through life and make your most important decisions.

This broadcast is not a new phenomenon; it has been happening since the beginning. What may be new, however, is the awareness that it is going on - now! - and that you can tune in your mind and hear. Once you understand how personally and collectively advantageous it is to be attentive to the cosmic broadcast, you will gladly listen inwardly for guidance. Why spend your time stuck in traffic jams? Why drive through life with limited vision when you have such easy access to an expanded perspective? Why suffer when you have the means with which to end all suffering?

This "new" way of using your mind will help confirm your evolving perspective of yourself as a spiritual being in a spiritual universe composed of Mind. It is a way of accessing information, obtaining guidance and direction, and intuitively knowing what to do. It involves making conscious, deliberate, and practical use of your newly discovered but ever-existing connection with the creative God Force or Mind of All. It is a skill that will help you be less fearful and more authentic. It is a faculty you will want to use and improve once you perceive its value and begin to suspect that it might actually work.

This new way is about yielding to - following - the traffic helicopter's guidance. It is the car on the road in conscious communication with the helicopter in the air. It is you, your mind, in conscious communion with Infinite Mind, God.  And it involves voluntarily giving up or moving beyond your limited and partial knowing in glad exchange for the wisdom of the whole.

The Divine Technique

Learning to rely on inner guidance takes practice and the development of trust. The best place to practice is in the midst of daily life, especially those moments when you are required to make a decision. If you feel the need to decide something, it means you are not clear about that thing. If you were clear, there would be no need of a decision. What to do would be obvious to you. "I am marrying this person and not that one," for example. There is no question about it, you are not really making a decision. You are clear.

The fact that you do have a choice, therefore - and a decision to make -   indicates a lack of clarity. This lack of clarity is not a statement about you, however. You are not "bad" or inadequate simply because you are not clear about some aspect of your life. You are still who you've always been: the direct expression of God's Mind. Being unclear, however, means that you do not have sufficient information at your disposal to make a clear choice. Recognizing this, then, do not make up your own mind. Know you are looking at things from ground level. Recognize that your perception of the situation is necessarily limited and that any decisions you might make would be based on partial and incomplete data, and then do not make any decisions by yourself. Instead, suspend your best judgment about what to do and ask inwardly for guidance. Ask mentally, almost as though you were simply talking to yourself. Direct your question into the vastness of your mind - your mind being your personal conduit into Infinite Mind - and expect an answer.

It makes more sense to do this than it does to decide "by yourself." Therefore, decide not to decide. Make up your mind no longer to make up your mind. Deliberately suspend your partial knowing and ask the greater overview for advice. Turn on your radio, ask for clarification, and listen. This is a most intelligent thing to do. Accessing guidance through inner listening is how you get clear.

Whenever you have a decision to make during the day, observe your perspective on the situation and recognize when it is limited. Realize also that the so-called traffic helicopter or Infinite Mind has a superior view. Then, knowing it is in your best interest to access the larger knowledge, ask for it. Silently say, "I want to do what You would have me do. What would You have me do?" Memorize these sentences, use them frequently throughout the day, and do as you are prompted to do. Observe how your life moves and flows when you operate in this way.

Practicing yoga during the day is a matter of keeping your eyes on the road and one ear turned toward the Infinite. It's about listening inwardly as often as you can for your deepest impulses about what to say, think, do, or be. When you are in the store buying apples, for example, instead of choosing the ones you usually buy, pause inwardly for a moment and silent ask, "Should I buy red, green, or yellow apples today?" Buy the ones you are prompted to buy. Dare to do what your deepest impulses encourage you to do. Do this as many moments of the day as you can. Do it whenever you have a decision to make.

The practice is this: Ask, listen, and do. Ask for guidance, listen inwardly for your deepest impulses, and dare to do what these prompt you to do. Dare to gather information from more than your five physical senses only and go beyond your own best reasoning. Practice leaning into your intuitive ability. Practice assessing your greater capacity to be aware. Get better and better at hearing inner guidance. And practice on easy things, like what to buy, or what to eat, or what to wear, so that when you are faced with a decision about something more important, you will be in the habit of seeking silent counsel from the universal wisdom available to you in the depths of your own consciousness.

The gist of the new way, therefore, is to dedicate yourself to doing this on a consistent basis - listening for God's Will for you. It is the meaning of "Thy Will be done." It is the conscious choice to suspend your best judgment of a situation and ask the bigger knowing instead. It makes perfect sense to do this, especially when you realize how little you actually know, how limited and partial your vision really is, and how in need you are of a perspective greater than your own. You will then find yourself surprisingly willing to inquire and listen to the bigger picture.

When you realize the limitations of your understanding, at first you may become depressed or despondent, but gradually you will experience your mind becoming more pliable, receptive, and eager to know more, which will enable you to embrace a larger truth. And as your understanding enlarges, as you trust, go with the flow, and do and be as you are prompted from within, you'll realize that life is not random nor governed by chance. Things will start happening more smoothly. You'll become "lucky." You'll understand that you need not be suspicious or fearful that this faculty will lead you into trouble that culminates in regret or future suffering. And so you trust even deeper. You let go further.

And then you'll get it! God's Will and your own are one and the same. There are not two wills. The ocean and the wave are not essentially different. It is safe to trust in God, and it is also safe to trust in yourself. In fact - and this is the point - to do one is to do the other. It works both ways because who you are is the specific identification of God. The Will of God and the desires of your own heart are one and the same. And by listening to your deepest impulses to action, you will be hearing God's Will for you. You will no longer fear the Will of God, nor distrust the urgings of your own spontaneous being, and it will become increasingly easy to deepen your trust and dedicate yourself to listening. To do this is in your best interest.

Let's look at the three essential steps that develop the willingness to ask, the ability to hear, and the courage to act in accordance with your deepest impulses.

1 Know You Do Not Know

Surely, this is not hard to admit. All of us confront problems and situations we are unable to resolve. And understandably so. From ground level we do not have the best perspective on what's happening in our lives and certainly can't always know the right thing to do. We make choices and decisions with insufficient data and suffer to one degree or another because of it.

We can entertain the idea, however, that just as the helicopter has an obviously superior perspective on the overall traffic condition and we can use its information to help ourselves navigate down the road, so might there be some sort of bigger mind - even an Infinite Mind - that possesses a better or more all-encompassing perspective of our lives. We can entertain the idea because, even though it may seem remote, it does seem plausible. It doesn't sound too fantastic. It could be true. But even though it's plausible, still its truth must be demonstrated. Proof is required before any of us believe totally.

It's not difficult to be sufficiently willing to give inner guidance a try, though, because most of us have on occasion spontaneously experienced accurate intuitive knowings. The phone will ring, for example, and we know who it is. Or we think of someone we haven't seen or heard from in a long time and then receive a card from her the next day or bump into her on the street. We know what someone is going to say, and then he says it. Many coincidences happen that we had intuitively foreseen. It therefore seems likely that this just might work. And so, let's test it out and see. There's no danger in giving it a try, and if it works, great. Therefore, let's suspend what we think we know and experiment. Let's look anew at what's possible. It's in our personal and collective best interest to suspend any conclusions or decisions based on ground-level data and be willing, instead, to listen to the inner broadcast from the "aerial" perspective. It makes ground-level sense to do this.

The new way is the route to the resolution of any problem or question you may encounter. It involves accessing the wisdom of the whole. It is your "finite" mind connecting up with Infinite Mind. The willingness to do this surfaces when you realize how little you actually know about how life works and what's in your best interest. The logical next step is gladly to let go of your obviously limited and partial knowing and to open your mind to a larger and more comprehensive outlook.

The trick to doing this - to letting go of your partial knowing and thereby opening your mind to the larger perspective-revolves around how clearly you realize the limits of your knowledge. When you are aware of this it will make sense to let go of what you thought was true in deference to a second opinion. It will be eminently reasonable to desire and ask for assistance and then attentively listen for the inner promptings of universal guidance. When you know you don't know, it makes sense to ask.

If you were to get lost while driving through an unfamiliar town, for example, you wouldn't hesitate to stop and either ask someone for directions or look at a map. It is the same here; however, instead of looking at an external map or asking someone else for directions, you ask inwardly, using your mind to commune with Infinite Mind. You ask the traffic helicopter. You talk to God. You ask inwardly to your Self - like a wave to the ocean, a cell to the brain, or a cloud to the sky. You ask the larger portion of you, the part that knows. You ask and listen, and lo and behold ... you find yourself knowing.

The important point to appreciate, however, is how limited the ground-level perspective actually is. Understanding this - that is, knowing you don't know - will dramatically heighten your motivation to learn the new way. When it's obvious to you that you don't know, and when you suspect that there is the possibility of knowing simply by asking, there will be increased willingness on your part to pursue this possibility. It makes more sense to listen for guidance than to do anything else. But unless you are clear about the limitations of what you know, you will continue to think you can answer your own questions and solve your own problems. And in your efforts to solve them with insufficient data, you will effectively deafen your ears to the inner voice.

The initial stumbling block for many people is in not allowing the first little willingness even to experiment with this, even to playfully consider it. This is because it takes courage to let go of what we know, even though we know it's partial, and begin trusting something that we do not yet know is fully trustworthy. You may feel brave, daring, as though you were taking a great risk, and you will almost undoubtedly experience fear. Your motivation to persist in spite of this involves the realization that if you could answer your own questions and problems, you would. Therefore, insofar as you have been unable to answer some of them, why not admit it? Be honest. Acknowledge the truth. There is nothing wrong with not knowing. Acknowledge honestly to yourself the limitations of your knowledge.

And notice that this in itself is an advanced kind of knowing! It is an accurate evaluation of the mind by the mind. Knowing you do not know satisfies the part of your mind that wants to know and be certain. Do not deny this part. Honor it. Be certain, convinced This is not as self-demeaning as it may at first appear. Not knowing is your passport to knowing. It is your clear and open approach to truth. Value the not-knowing place. It's how you begin to really know. The moment you know you do not know is the moment you open yourself to true knowing.

2 Ask Inwardly for Guidance and Listen for a Reply

It may feel strange or a bit uncomfortable at first to talk to yourself so intimately. But don't be afraid of this, or let this feeling dissuade you from listening. Whenever you learn something new there are awkward moments. Just close your eyes and speak mentally, as though you were talking to a close friend, and then listen. And if, after listening for a few moments, you do not hear anything in response, then quietly, patiently, ask again - and listen more closely, in a more relaxed fashion. Do not strain to hear, however. Relax, be patient, wait. Let it come to you. Sit quietly, as though you were sitting at a bus stop waiting for the bus, knowing it will be here in just a moment. The more you do this, the better you will get at it.

There is a whole other language involved in listening inwardly for communications from the universe in this way. It is not always dependent on words. Instead it involves feelings, impulses to action, and meanings that can be put into words by you in order to be consciously accepted or communicated to others. In other words, you may not actually hear a voice. You may instead simply experience Knowing. You will know what to do without having figured it out. You will be prompted to do one thing rather than another. There will be a sudden clarity within you. More than anything else, listen to the way it feels - that is, listen to the way you feel. Consciously experience your feeling-tone. The messages that come from beyond lie in the feelings and impulses that arise from within.

You may, for example, have three or four things to do today. List them in your mind and mentally say, "I want to do what You would have me do. What would You have me do? Which one of these four things should I do first?" Then relax, listen and feel. Listen for a feeling, an insight or idea, or some sort of impulse to action. One of them will light up somehow as being the most appropriate one to do first. Do that one. Then ask, "Which one now?" And do the one that lights up. The answer will not always come in words. It might be a voice. It might never be a voice. It will probably come in the form of a sudden intuitive knowing without the use of any rational thought process.

This is one reason why the yoga asanas are important and why it is so valuable to learn to sit quietly in centered meditation. When your nervous system has been purified, calmed, and sensitized through asana practice and meditation, and when you are thoroughly familiar with the feeling-tone of being centered, at peace, and in harmony with yourself, the impulses coming from the Infinite will reverberate through you with more clarity. You will decipher the messages with greater ease. You will know what is right for you and what isn't. And it will be easy. Right feels right and wrong feels wrong. And the distinction will not be difficult to make.

3 Dare to Do As You Are Prompted to Do

The thing to be aware of at this point is that some of the guidance you receive may not make sense to you. This is understandable. From ground level, your perspective on what's happening is severely limited. From ground level, it is not logical to get off at the next exit as your inner voice may be suggesting when the road ahead appears to be clear and open. "Why should I get off here and go the long way around?" It doesn't make ground-level sense, and so the tendency is to disregard the intuitive knowing and ignore the inner signal. Only later, stuck in the traffic jam, do you realize why that would have been the appropriate and most intelligent thing to do and why "going the long way around" would have been a short cut. The aerial perspective takes everything into account.

This is how we learn. The next time you hear that little voice, even though the guidance may not make sense to you because from where you are the road looks clear, you may be a little more willing to do what it suggests. More and more, you'll realize it makes ultimate sense to trust your intuition and deepest impulses. And as your trust deepens, and as you allow yourself to do as you are prompted from within to do, you will realize there is no risk involved, that your best interests seem to have been taken into consideration, as well as everyone else's, and that it's intelligent to ask, listen, and do - which makes relaxing into it and trusting deeper even easier the next time.

Allow yourself more and more to trust the answers that arise from within, and pursue the fulfillment of your happiness by faithfully following instructions. Do those things your deepest impulses urge you to do. Be genuine, authentic. Eventually, in not too long a time, this won't even seem such a daring thing to do. It will simply make sense to let go of your limited knowing and open yourself to the larger wisdom. This willingness can take years or moments. Be ready for both. Do and be as your deepest, most current impulses are urging you to be.

In the Morning

In the morning when you wake, lie on your back and be perfectly still. Silently say to yourself, "Today I will make no decisions by myself." Say this several times, until you feel that you have meant what you are saying. Then add, "I will make no decisions by myself because it is no longer intelligent to do so. Instead, I will make all my decisions in silent counsel with the Infinite."

During the Day

During the day whenever you are called upon to make a decision, do not decide by yourself. Instead, pause inwardly for a moment - and it only takes a moment - and ask for help in your decision making. Mentally say, "I want to do what You would have me do. What would You have me do?" Then dare to do as you are prompted to do.

If you know you have, say, four or five things needing to be done today, take a moment to be still, list them in your mind, and ask, "Which one should I do first?" Do the one that lights up. Then ask, "Which one now?" and do that.

Requesting Clarification

If something is bothering you, or if there is an issue in your life that needs resolution or clarification, silently desire to know the answer and then silently listen for clarification. Say, "1 want to do what You would have me do. What would You have me do in this situation?" Then listen deeply inside yourself for inspiration and be attentive to the way circumstances unfold in your experience. What does your deepest being, the deepest part of you, want to do? Desire and silent listening are the keys. Make the practice one of listening, listening, listening.


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