Want Good Advice? Stop, Look, and Listen!

stop, look, and listen

By Teresa Lampmann, Spiritual Director and Author

Wisdom is around you and within you.  Want good advice?  Stop, look, and listen.  Take a walk and find a park bench, or sandy beach, or pathway through the woods.  Stop to sit and gaze at the wonder and beauty around you.  Still your mind chatter and center in your heart to listen for your inner voice of wisdom that reveals what’s true for you.

Often we have been raised to believe the guidance we seek when making decisions lies externally in a book, a course, a person, an institution, or some other authority.  But, as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz learned, the truth we seek has been with us since our journey began.

Science is discovering more and more about our access to our inner wisdom – our intuitive, instinctual wisdom programmed in our brains and bodies through our evolution.  This evolutionary wisdom is still guiding most of our actions and behaviors from an unconscious level, but it is accessible.

“To get a conscious glimpse of this deeper wisdom embodied in us, Goodwyn* suggests we pay attention to the images that surface in our dreams, meditations, and contemplative activities.” **

Our embodied wisdom communicates through symbols and metaphors. The images, memories, physical sensations, or feelings that surface when we stop, look, and listen are the result of a cascade of connections bringing information from deeper regions in our unconscious into our conscious awareness.  When we look at the images that surface or the sensations we feel from a symbolic or metaphorical perspective, we see deeper into our situation and get clarity around our best action or response.

Are you ready to give this a try?  The next time you are wrestling with a decision or concern and need advice, take a walk to find a beautiful place to stop, look, and listen.  When you have found your setting in nature, follow these five steps:

  1. Relax – breathe in and breathe out deeply.  This releases the tension in your muscles to offer access to the wisdom of your body.
  2. Be Present – stay in the moment. This frees your mind to be receptive to new insights, a fresh perspective.
  3. Pay Attention – look at what’s happening around you and feel what’s happening within you in this moment.  This gives your brain time to recognize patterns and process connections from very deep levels of embodied memory.
  4. Be Curious – notice what captured your attention in this beautiful setting. Ask yourself, “How is this relevant to the advice I am seeking around my issue?”
  5. Trust Your Heart – invite your heart to translate what captured your attention into a loving metaphor that offers you a direction that honors your true self.  Trust in that “aha!” moment when it all comes together and an insight brings such clarity that you know in your heart this direction is what’s best for you.

Share Your Story

What surfaced for you in this time you set aside to seek advice?  What was this experience like for you?  Share your comments in the section provided.

* Goodwyn, Erik D. The Neurobiology of the Gods: How Brain Physiology Shapes the Recurrent Imagery of Myth and Dreams. London and New York: Rutledge, 2012. 54-55

**Lampmann, Teresa T. The ABC Path toward True Wisdom: A Woman’s Guide to Trusting What She Knows in Her Heart Is True.   Bloomington: Balboa Press, 2017. 7.

Teresa Lampmann completed a certificate program in women’s spirituality in 1998 and two certificate programs in spiritual direction, one in 1997 and recently in 2015.  Her book, The ABC Path toward True Wisdom, offers stories, reflections, and personal rituals to engage women in trusting their heart for the truth about what matters most in their lives. 

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