We often seek answers outside ourselves; through books, other people’s life experiences, friends and family, or experts. However we already have all the answers inside ourselves. It’s just tapping into that, seeking permission, or simply learning the tools to do so.
Once you start living with your intuition, you will become clearer on what you want and what you don’t want in life, which will ultimately bring a more meaningful life. This doesn’t mean you need to be saving the world, but simply that you are living on your terms: on what you really value in life. When you really start living for you, things will start to feel more rewarding and fulfilling. It will also lead to less stress. And yes, you will still experience stress – it’s part of life, But it’s those little things that bring us unnecessary day-to-day stress that will help free us from this burden.
After returning from overseas I felt completely lost, stressed, overwhelmed and extremely down – not knowing where I fit in, what I really wanted in life or simply how I wanted to live my life. These are the simple (but not necessarily easy) lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years that has brought me a lot of more clarity in life and acceptance in myself. And yes, this is a work in progress. There is no special formula that if I do this for X number of days I will achieve that. No. It’s a journey and it will help you grow and learn about yourself. And as know with your practice it’s about the journey not the destination.
Check out my top 3 tips for trusting your body and following your intuition to guide you forward.
1. GET OUT OF YOUR MIND
As a society we have valued our minds over feelings. But the ideal is to connect the two to be one. By doing this we need to simply feel into our bodies, which will result in a ‘still mind’. We focus too much on ‘stilling the mind’ but by even saying it we automatically ‘think’ to still our minds, which is the complete opposite of what we need to try and do. It’s like someone says to you ‘don’t touch this’… of course you want to touch it.
The focus is to feel in to our bodies. What does this mean? It’s simply feeling what’s happening inside your body. Do you know that feeling when you become embarrassed and you feel all the blood in your body rushing to your face convinced you look like a tomato? It’s those feelings but it’s not always so obvious. Perhaps it’s a small tightness in your lower back or heaviness in your chest. It’s subtle and we need to give ourselves a moment to take notice and feel it.
We can do this in our yoga practice. As you know, yoga allows us to move our bodies into positions you wouldn’t usually do in your everyday lives, which usually consists of the core three; sitting, standing and lying down. I love practicing yin as it gives me the space and time to really get deep into poses and simply allow myself to be aware of where I hold tension in my body, how the pose makes my body feel and taking notice of any emotions or thoughts that come to me. The idea is to sit with it and not to judge it (or run away with any thoughts). Just acknowledge and let it pass.
Mediation is of course another amazing practice. I’ve always struggled with maintaining a mediation practice, until I realised I don’t need sit for 30-60mins on a special meditation cushion in a dedicated space in my home… but simply find moments in the day where can I sit, breathe and feel. Usually I find this moment in the car just before I walk into work and only usually lasts 3-5 mins. But we don’t need to ‘do anything’ to feel. It can be done anywhere and everywhere –washing the dishes, taking your dog for a walk, or in the shower. The aim is to feel in every moment of your day, but of course that’s easier said than done. That is why I consciously practice through things like yoga to help me learn and bring it off the mat into my everyday life.
It’s also really important to recognise that there is more to life than being happy. When we feel into our bodies we feel so many emotions. Happiness feels great but so does being excited, inspired, courageous… and then there are feelings that we associate with being ‘bad’ like anger, jealousy and sadness. We need to feel them all. We can’t discount the ‘negative’ over ‘positive’ as they are both vital for us to grow and learn. Can we really appreciate happiness if we never experience sadness? It’s also crucial that we don’t judge ourselves for feeling a certain way. If you feel a feeling that you consider or is considered ‘bad’ it’s really okay. It’s simply how you feel but you can’t let it overtake or control you. Sit with the feeling (and, yes it might take a while) but it will eventually pass. It may come back later and that’s okay too. Don’t obsess with it by thinking and replaying it over in your mind. Simply notice how it feels in your body.
When we feel into our bodies we are present and when we start taking notice of how we feel, we can start listening to the signs and messages our bodies are telling us. They are very subtle and if we are not present, and in our minds, we will miss it. That is why we need to consciously practise feeling so we can build this skill until it becomes second nature, again.
2. IS YOUR STORY HOLD YOU BACK
This isn't about your life story but the stories you hold about yourself – that hold you back in life. It's the tricks your mind plays on you or what's been programmed from an early age. In school, I always seemed to be in the 'dumb' class. Of course they didn't call it that, but it was never the 'advanced' class and of course kids like to say how it really is! "I'm not smart enough" is one of my stories that I've taken on since childhood. I don't go around saying "I'm dumb" but it's when a situation or an opportunity arises when it comes out. If there was a job promotion advertised I wouldn't apply because "I won’t get it, I'm not smart enough" or even writing a blog I think "I can't write one, I'm not smart enough".
Maybe you’re unsure of what your stories are. Take notice of what winds you up. Maybe you get defensive about something when in hindsight it seems harmless. For me, I recognised that I got really frustrated and angry when people close to me offered help or advice about small tasks like cooking or cleaning. Once I noticed this trend I realised my story was coming up and that I actually felt that they thought I couldn't figure out for myself because "I was too dumb".
These stories we hold about ourselves aren't true and they can hold us back in achieving what we really want. They create a sense of fear, false fear and unnecessary stress. Imagine we could go for what we want without fear; the fear of validating the story we hold about ourselves. What would you do? What would you change?
Take note of your stories. Recognise them when they come up. You will start to notice when they do play on your mind and by simply knowing it's not the truth you may react differently or make a different decision knowing it's only a 'story'. Over time you will start letting go of your stories and make space for your true self. Not only will it minimise unnecessary stress but you start to learn more about yourself, your true desires, and become clearer of where you want to go, want you want to do and how you want to live your life.
3. BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
We can be our own harshest critics and this is by far one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn (a constant practice). We’ve set our in our minds where we ‘should’ be in life or what we ‘should’ be doing or how we ‘should’ feel and if we aren’t where we think we should be, then there must be something wrong with us. It’s okay to feel unsure. It’s okay to feel uncertain. It’s okay not to have the answers. It may not feel comfortable but you really are at the perfect moment you need to be in your life right now.
We are very spoilt these days with instant gratification that we expect we can do the same for ourselves. We can’t do instant. When we hold space for ourselves we are simply giving permission to live of lives, to experience what we need, to learn and grow. With patience, clarity will come to us when the time is right, not when we think the time is right. We all have our own journeys and simply need to trust. Live life, in the present and on your terms, and with time, the answers you’re seeking and clarity you desire will come.
Founder + Director of Cork Leaf. Introvert who loves to practice yin yoga and is chocolate obsessed. Lives life with her heart, strives to live a more sustainable life and dreams of moving to the countryside with her family.