Metaphors Are Wisdom’s Way

Metaphors are Wisdom's Way

Metaphors Hold Insight to Guide Your Journey

By Teresa Lampmann, Spiritual Director and Author

In my previous blog I talked about paying attention to the signals generated by your body in response to thoughts about a particular concern you had.   I used the example of your arm starting to itch as a metaphor for “what’s getting under your skin?”  Looking at the physical sensation as a metaphor for something going on in your life can shift your perspective and bring surprising clarity.  This is Wisdom’s way – using metaphors to bring insight.

How do metaphors offer true wisdom?

Remember the “Connect the dots” pages in children’s activity books?  You start with the number one and draw a line to number two, and then number three, and so on until the picture is finished and you have an image.  Often a clue to the image was given in the beginning so that when you finished you had the answer.  That’s how metaphors work to offer insight.

You start with an image, a memory, a dream, or a physical sensation, that seems to be having a strong affect on you.  Notice something in particular that attracts your attention.  See it a clue or key to the deeper meaning.

Stop what you are doing and take a few minutes to sit and reflect, inviting questions to surface around this clue/key.  What is it, what does it do, how is it designed, what is its purpose?  You are getting into the “who, what, why, when, and where” of this clue/key.  This invites your intuitive wisdom, your inner knowing, to connect the dots and eventually reveal the connection between this metaphor and something going on in your life.

Here is an example

The “Paying Too High a Price” dream 

In January 2016 I dreamed that I was teaching a Home Economics class.  Because I was a Home Economics teacher back in the 70-80’s, this was an interesting choice as a setting for my dream.

In this dream I was teaching my female students how to use a strainer.  I noticed the strainer looked very expensive and I asked my young assistant how much it cost.  She said it cost $65 and she purchased one for each kitchen in the classroom.  That was way too much to spend and I was worried about its draining my resources.  Then I realized she didn’t have any sense that it was too much to pay.

Engaging the metaphor

In choosing an image from the dream to explore as a metaphor for something going on in my life, I was intrigued by the strainer.  As I reflected on the strainer and what it is, how it is used, it’s purpose, and played with word associations, the dots started connecting to reveal a picture of what the metaphor represented.

I knew a strainer was used to separate solids from liquids, or the substance you want from the substance you don’t want.  The feeling I had in the dream was concern for the high price that was paid, and my surprise at how the young assistant was totally unaware.  How did that fit together?

What wisdom did this strainer contain?

I immediately connected with two points:

  • A play on words – Where am I “straining” to do it all?  That got my attention!  I knew I had way too much going on in my life at the time and I was burning the candle at both ends to get everything done.
  • Using the strainer – The lesson being taught was how to use a strainer to separate what matters from what doesn’t, and let the rest go.  Wow!

Intuitively I was stressed about my insane schedule but I was ignoring my concern, unaware of the cost to my health and well-being.  The strainer was Wisdom’s way of showing me how to address the situation before I ended up paying too high a price.  Amazing!

My next blog – tracking your progress

It is amazing to connect with a metaphor and open it like a precious gift to reveal true wisdom for your journey.  It validates Wisdom’s participation in your life, communicating guidance every step of the way.  Your intuitive wisdom knows how to connect the dots to reveal the metaphor’s message, but it takes practice and follow-through to become confident.  I’ll offer a method for tracking your progress in the next blog.

For more information on the source of our wisdom as humans, read the chapter, “Where Does True Wisdom Originate?” pages 7-8 in my book, The ABC Path toward True Wisdom.

Share Your Story

When have you “connected the dots” for insight about a situation in your life?  Share your comments in the section provided.  Follow this blog to receive each post in your email.

True Wisdom

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. 

Contact Teresa:
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