Expectations can be like prisons. One of my most powerful memories is from after I graduated university and was working at Costco while I figured my future out. My high school Honors Chemistry teacher came thru the register I was boxing items for, looked at me with equal parts confusion, friendliness, and disappointment, and said she “was surprised to see me there” as she expected I’d be a doctor, engineer, or scientist. Why? Because I’d been “that kid” who’d gotten over 100% for the year in her class. While the messages outside me said that was the box I was meant to live in, the knowingness inside me (I think it’s the Holy Spirit, but you might have a different name) told me “NO”, and I’m eternally grateful I followed this inner guidance!
That said, I haven’t always trusted the feeling of the wisdom within me over the “shape” society, others, and even “I” thought Lang should take. I’m learning to and working on uncaging the parts of me that have been locked up, so wanted to share with you some thoughts on trusting our inner knowingness to become more freely and fully alive.
I really dig strategy games, war-games, super hero movies, fantasy books, computer games, and other somewhat geeky things. While a bit on the fringe, these still fall within the “box” of what it means to be a man according to culture. That said, I have NO interest, and not much ability, in working on cars, fixing household stuff, building the things guys build, home improvement, and other “man” stuff. Truth be told, in a very real way, part of me is like the stereotypical gay guy, minus the sexuality! I’m sensitive, I naturally gravitate toward feminine energy, I like to cheer the ladies on and sometimes feel like one of the girls, I teach yoga (where about 90% of the people are women in my classes), and love to sit around and talk about relationships, life, and dreams.
I’d rather think of and tell people of all genders he/she is beautiful inside and out, sweet, smart, kind, fabulous, courageous, and doing wonderful, than to say she/he is strong, “killing it”, tough, powerful, or whatever else guys are supposed to say. 🙂 Though I’m confident I heeded the wisdom inside me when I joined the Air Force, I also believed I plugged my ears to it during my military journey by locking away my tender, kind, supportive, and sensitive (what one might name “feminine”) self, in favor of being the fire-breathing manly man people expected me to be in the Air Force.
In the end, even the words I’m using to describe the real me fall short of capturing “Lang” and are somewhat boxes, but hopefully you get the point. Each of us is a magical beyond words mystery, who is endlessly knowable. So, how do we listen to the Spirit, wisdom, intuition, and/or guidance within us? While each of our journeys are different, I also have a hunch there’s some universality and my experiences aren’t unique to me.
In Blissology, a yoga group I’m part of, we have a saying: “Yoga is a feeling, not a shape,” meaning the poses aren’t about looking a certain way, but feeling more alive and saturated with Love. And I think this applies to hearing the Spirit’s guidance about life as well. While on rare occasion I’ve received knowingness in the form of actual words in my head, usually it’s a feeling in my body. But first, I’ll share some help from “friends”.
I’ve come to learn that when I hear the same message, almost always in different ways, from three or more unrelated sources in a short period of time, the Universe is trying to tell me something. For example, recently I heard a podcast mention the importance of Loving yourself, read in a memoir how an author learned to stop squeezing herself into society’s boxes and Love herself as she was created, listened to a friend share her journey in unlearning living the life societal pressures said she “should” live in order to Love the life she has and dreams of, and my soul sang, “YES! Me too!” Similarly, when I decided to join the military the Air Force was NOT at the top of my list. Yet, after several one-on-one conversations with family and friends, wherein everyone said how great the Air Force is for taking care of its troops, I checked in with my inner guidance system and knew it was the right choice.
Four words that came to me when it comes to “hearing” the Wise Guide Inside of us are Peace, Unity, Light, and Love. If I was cheesy, I could call it the PULL Principle. 😉 When I ponder which choice I should make in life, whether it’s a job, relationship, degree, house, location, or belief, the path of peace has never let me down. I almost said it’d only failed me once, but if I hadn’t married my second ex-wife, I wouldn’t have met my soulmate, be able to see my teenage daughter every week, or be living happily back home in Washington state. In short, when I consider or go a direction in life that’s not optimal, or counter to who I am, I feel unease, disquiet, and anxiety within me. And when I pursue a course that feels peaceful in my gut, I experience greater aliveness.
The unity that comes when I swing on the playground of life with the Spirit is harder to describe. It’s a sense wherein the boundaries between God and I (or your understanding of that term), others and I, and creation and I blur and disappear. Unity, in my experience, is feeling like I’m being subtly and sweetly electrocuted by invisible chords connecting me to everything/everyone.
Another aspect of honoring the Knowingness inside us for me is light. I’d say this is much like how I described following the path of peace. When we live in the “boxes” we should be in, it feels heavy, wearisome, and dark (usually in a very subtle way, or else we’d be more apt to try and escape). Yet, following the “voice” that frees us to be wildly alive, seems easy, unburdened, and light, even amidst hard times, adversity, and others disagreeing with my choices.
A final inner sensation for me that flows from Wisdom on the road to aliveness is Love. I know my words, deeds, and choices are in alignment when they bring a greater sense of Love for others, myself, creation, and the Creator of this extraordinary existence. While “boxes” are small, Love is big, bold, beautiful, and wild!
I pray my experiences and musings about being set free from culture’s cages by listening to and following the guidance of the Spirit inside (and between) each of us blesses you on your journey toward greater aliveness. What would you add to, and what are your thoughts on, peace, unity, light, and Love being telltale signs we’re being guided?
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