When was the last time you woke up and asked yourself, “What am I feeling now, and what are these emotions trying to tell me?” or “What do I need to do to nourish my spirit today?” Most likely these weren’t the first thoughts to pop into your head this morning — or any morning, for that matter. Even pondering them might conjure a big blank. However, one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to become adept in the language of your inner world by checking in with your feelings and then honoring them by acting from what you discover there. This is leading your life the feminine way — from the inside out.
Like a flower, your life can be divided into two parts: your inner world, the center of the flower, and your outer world, the petals. Your inner world consists of your thoughts, deepest heart’s desires, intuitive knowing, awareness, devotion, and emotions. Your outer world includes your relationships, community, career, external personality, and day-to-day interactions. For the petals of your outer world to unfurl, you must first inhabit the innermost aspects of yourself — the bright and confident as well as the deflated and wounded parts. Doing so allows for authenticity, self-acceptance, self-love, trust, and confidence to flow into the outermost reaches of your life. When you live from the inside out you don’t need the love and approval of others to feel worthy. You don’t need everyone to agree with you to feel successful. You’re sure of who you are, for you’re guided by a steady, unwavering inner stream of wisdom. When you live this way, you are aligned with what you value most, which gives you the stability to flow through life without becoming derailed.
This inward-guided life only comes from ongoing practice. Daily, and even moment-to-moment, you must train yourself to check inside first before looking outside for direction. This takes time, discipline, and willingness, and every woman must determine for herself how much of those qualities she has at any given time. Above all, it takes courage and trust. Like any path, it grows more inviting each time it’s walked on.
Albert Einstein once said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”1 Like a buried treasure, intuition awaits discovery at the heart of your inner world. It is the most essential ingredient in learning how to trust yourself and to lead a spirit-guided and heart-centered life. Unfortunately, in our world, just as your moon time is no longer honored, neither is your intuition. Certainly deep, inner listening isn’t a skill we’re taught in school or at home by our parents. But it’s never too late to learn. In fact, our monthly cycles offer the perfect opportunity. During menstruation (or, for postmenopausal women, during the dark moon), when we retreat and step back from our worldly endeavors, we slow down, get quiet, and can then look inside and ask for guidance. At the end of our moon time, or as the sliver of a waxing moon reappears in the night sky, we can reenter our lives with new wisdom and fresh insight to implement our visions for positive change.
I’ve made two of the most pivotal decisions in my life based on intuition. The first was to move to Thailand. Then, nine years later, I knew I had come to the end of my time there. I had just left a five-year relationship, my sister was about to give birth to her first baby back in the States, and I felt a longing to be closer to my family and to move on to the next chapter of my life. Yet I felt torn inside. As a freelance writer and yoga teacher, I could live anywhere in the world. The options felt overwhelming. So I prayed for guidance, for a crystal-clear knowing of what my next step would be. And then I waited. A month later, I was in Rishikesh, India, just out of a ten-day meditation retreat. Standing on my yoga mat in mountain pose, I watched the sun rise from behind the mountains just outside my window. Suddenly, I felt a flash of light move through my body. Disoriented, for a moment I felt as if I was in Boulder, Colorado, where I had spent a lot of time in the past. Each time I had visited there, a small voice inside me whispered, “I’d love to live here one day.” All of a sudden I just knew that now was the time to move there.
Intuition can come in many ways: through an inner vision, a dream, a bodily “feeling” or “knowing,” a quiet inner voice, or external signs, coincidences, and synchronicities.
Here are a few simple ways to begin strengthening your intuition and getting to know how she best reveals herself to you:
• Throughout the day, ask as many times as you can, “What do You want me to do now?” (the “You” being your highest self, your deepest knowing, or the Divine). Start asking this about simple things — like which pair of earrings you should wear or what you should eat for breakfast. The more you ask the question, the more trained you will become in receiving answers, and you can start using this technique for bigger and bigger life decisions.
• Write in your journal with your nondominant hand. For me, that’s my left hand. When I write with my right hand, I’m accessing the lineal, logical part of my brain. Try writing down a question with your dominant hand, such as “How should I handle this argument with my colleague?” and then pass your pen to your nondominant hand and see what answer comes out.
• Make a regular practice of telling life what you really want. You can do this in your journal, as a prayer before you go to sleep, or in a conversation with the sky as you go
for a solitary walk. At the end of your request ask for clear, recog-nizable signs that you’ve been heard
and that you will be shown the way. Then receive the symbols that show up — either in your dreams or through animals, numbers, or coincidences.
• Take time for a yoga, meditation, and journaling practice. This is when I get my best ideas!
• Spend time alone walking in nature, without your phone or iPod. When I feel creatively stuck with my writing or work project, often a walk outside will infuse me with fresh insights.
Sara Avant Stover is the author of The Way of the Happy Women: Living the Best Year of Your Life (New World Library) and a teacher and mentor to women around the world on wellness, spirituality and lifestyle. Steward of her own bliss, she’s truly happy some days and fakes it ‘til she makes it on others. Visit her online at www.TheWayoftheHappyWoman.com
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Excerpted from the book The Way of the Happy Woman © 2011 by Sara Avant Stover. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com