When my friend Pat mentioned a warning that went through his mind the other day, it occurred to me that I had missed an important aspect in my “Stay Alert” post. The area that I had not thought to include is to stay alert for warnings. We often are warned about impending problems but instead of heeding the warning we may answer the inner voice with a flood of discounting responses.
I wrote a post (Heed the Warnings) about these warnings in 2014. I gave a lot of examples from my life. I suggest you read that post first and then read this one. This post I consider an addendum to my recent Stay Alert post.
I asked Pat to write down and send me a copy of the warning so I would be sure to report it accurately. What he wrote was an expanded form, written after he read my 2014 post. I am going to include most of his comments. He wrote:
Loved the “inner voice”! Reminds me of the times I have heard “that voice” – that quiet voice …
And as Karuna knows, I heard it just recently about ten days ago when I was walking through the fraternity’s renovation project and heard that voice say, “watch out for nails!” . . . Just before I stepped on a nail! OUCH! 😳😲😀😂 (and just between you and me 😂 I didn’t listen to nurse Karuna’s voice telling me to get a tetanus shot . . . But I survived and all is well!)
When I was at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram in India last fall, I took a Tai Chi class for the first time. I fell totally in love with it. My top priority on returning to Seattle was to find a Tai Chi teacher. Within a short period of time, I found Viola Brumbaugh. She was exactly the type of teacher I was looking for. I immediately enrolled in her classes, and started attending them two times a week.
My joy was short-lived though. I had returned to Seattle in mid-January and in mid-February I hurt my back doing litter pick-up without using a litter pick-up tool. I have congenital spondylolithesis and scoliosis and have had problems with my back throughout my life.
In the past when my back pain has flared, it has only lasted two or three weeks at the most. This time, month after month went by and I was still unable to stand in one place or sit for very long. Driving was and is particularly uncomfortable. There has also been more nerve involvement than I have had during previous flare ups.
About a week ago, I sensed that I had reached a point where I could start doing Tai Chi again. It seemed like the classes might even promote my healing. So on Tuesday, even though I was still have problem standing in place, sitting and driving, I returned to class!
My intuition seems to be right. I’ve been to two classes now and have had no negative side effects. If anything, I feel better! And I am so happy to be learning Tai Chi once again.
One of the fantastic things about attending the class at this time of year, is that it is held in Lincoln Park, a large beautiful park in West Seattle. In addition to the joy of participating in this blessed practice under the huge trees, being there has given me the opportunity to take more tree photos. I took close ups of the tree below on Tuesday.
After taking the pictures, I ran my hand along the trunk to see if there were any loose pieces of bark. I took home a small piece of bark and something I am calling “orange plant debris” that was hanging on the tree. If you know what it is, please tell me!
Today I looked at those items under the microscope and took more photos!
Day 3’s assignment for Writing 201: Poetry is to write a poem about trust, using the form of an acrostic.
An acrostic is any poem in which the first (or last) letters of each line combine to spell out a word or a phrase, or follow the order of the alphabet.
Here is the result of my effort!
Blind faith does not the basis for true trust make,
Experience after experience is what it will take.
Seeing- hearing, being-doing,
Time, effort and discrimination are a must.
Intuition’s a factor, but inner silence may lead to “knowing” robust.
Let go of the need for perfection, that’s not the aim;
Live, learn, let go, and allow the other to do the same.
The act of writing this poem was an experience in and of itself. I focused on letting go and letting the words emerge rather than trying to force them. When I came to close to finishing it, I was bothered by a couple of lines and wondered if they would be misunderstood. My eyes were then drawn to the line “Let go of the need for perfection, that’s not the aim.” I reminded myself this is my third poem. No one else will expect perfection from me, and I shouldn’t expect it from myself.
Over the next hour or so I tweaked a couple of words. Soon thereafter, I realized the entire poem could be seen as a message to me. I will learn to trust in my ability to write poetry as I continue to write poems!
Last Saturday, I decided to do the morning prayers as a walking meditation instead of sitting like I normally do. Fairly quickly, I discovered I was “receiving” a series of “tests” or “lessons” in the midst of the prayers. I stayed in the moment and worked through them without missing a word of the chants! I enjoy these types of challenges and decided to share what I learned. Continue reading “Living in Awareness”→
Many years ago, I heard a minister say that the voice of God is most often the first voice we hear inside. What usually follows is a flood of discounting messages telling us why God’s message will not work, “You can’t do that,” “That’s wrong,” “It will never work,” “Do this instead.” He said that the quiet voice of God may make another attempt or two, but if we continue to ignore it, the “voice” will eventually fade.
People have many ways of conceptualizing this voice. For some it is God. Others call it intuition, inner voice, higher self, Spirit, or The Divine. In this post I will refer to it as inner voice.
I have experienced that process many times in my life, but never as frequently as during a week in 1995. It began when I was attending one of Amma’s programs in Calicut, India. At that time, I was staying with other ashramites, i.e. devotees from Amma’s main ashram in Amritapuri, on the roof of her Calicut temple.
There were places on the roof where mounds of rough concrete rose two to three inches above the surface. Several times, when I passed a particular mound, my inner voice said, “Be careful, that concrete is dangerous.” My response was, “I see it. I AM being careful.” I would then continue blithely on my way. One day, as I was walking to my sleeping mat, not paying a bit of conscious attention to what I was doing, I tripped over that mound of concrete and tore a big piece of flesh from the top of my toe.
The injury was very painful but that was the least of my concerns. Having an open foot wound in India seemed very dangerous to me. In those days, I generally walked barefoot and I had no doubt that the ground was filled with untold numbers and varieties of bacteria. My nursing background told me that the extreme heat and high humidity created a perfect breeding ground for the bacteria. I cleaned the wound as best I could and went on with my life. I found I needed to stay very conscious of my surroundings because any time I would lose concentration I would hit my toe on something, sending waves of pain coursing through my body.
I apparently hadn’t learned what I was meant to learn though. Over and over that week, my inner voice “warned” me of potential problems and I repeatedly discounted those warnings. The second instance occurred when my daughter Chaitanya, a friend and I took a taxi to the Singapore Airlines office in downtown Calicut. We drove in circles for an hour, unable to find the office. Once there, we discovered we needed to go to the Indian Air office before we could make the necessary changes with Singapore Airlines. As we left the Singapore Airlines office my inner voice said, “Make sure you write down the address so you can get back here.” I responded, “That is not necessary, the next taxi driver will know the way.” Later, when we left the Indian Air office, we spent another frustrating hour searching for the Singapore Airlines office.
Soon thereafter, I needed to relay an important message to a person at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. I arranged to send it with a friend who was returning to the ashram sooner than the rest of us. The night before my friend’s departure, my inner voice said, “Write the note and give it to her NOW.” I answered, “No, that is not necessary. She will not be leaving until tomorrow afternoon.” When I awakened the next morning, I discovered my friend had abruptly changed her plans, taking off for the ashram at daybreak.
As we cleaned our living area, the morning after the program’s end, I noticed a piece of paper on the floor beside my sleeping mat. My inner voice said, “That looks like a train ticket.” I answered, “MY ticket is in my wallet.” When we arrived at the train station a few hours later, I discovered that our tickets were missing.
My series of misfortunes did not end there. Chaitanya was scheduled to leave India two days after our return from Calicut. A friend cautioned me to pack her most important items in her carry-on luggage. I inwardly responded, “Everything is already packed and I do not want to start over. That is unnecessary.” After driving the three hours from the ashram to the airport, we discovered we had left my daughter’s suitcase sitting in our room at the ashram. That suitcase contained everything she needed for the school report that was due upon her return to the United States. There was no way to retrieve the suitcase before her plane departed. When I reflected on that event, I remembered that God’s messages may also be relayed through another person, such as in this incident with the suitcase.
As I began to ponder my behavior, I realized that after years of being so intensely focused on my spiritual path, I had developed a rather cocky attitude about my ability to hear and respond to that inner voice. I was shocked to see the reality of the situation. Over and over again, I had been warned of an impending problem and had discounted, ignored, and contradicted the warnings. I was awed by how much pain I could have saved myself if I had listened to each instruction. I was thankful for the powerful display of this particular spiritual pitfall and vowed to be much more conscious and conscientious in the future.
I believe that I am much more likely to pay attention to that quiet voice now than I did back then, but I still find myself discounting or ignoring warnings. This will probably be one of those lessons that will last a lifetime.
What experiences have you had in ignoring your inner voice?
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”-William Shakespeare