Watch my video message for the week! (Please disregard the part about the class conference call—we will be connecting via the class Facebook group instead.)
This week, we explore the course’s title and big idea, consider what mastery or “success” really means, and begin to work with energy clearing as a way to make space for inner knowing to enter.
The week’s materials are divided up into 3 parts:
- An introductory story
- Week One Activities
- Week One Readings
You can read everything here online, or download the readings and activities as a PDF and read/work through them on paper. To download and print, just click this link: Week 1 online
Don’t forget to listen to the audio file here on the website! And have fun!
INTRODUCTION: Thea’s story
I start this week with little story about me and how I came to do this work. I include it here because it helps explain where some of the writing comes from that I’ll be sharing with you as a “text” for the course. If you already know this story, and/or you’re eager to get to the big ideas of the week, feel free to skip down to the week’s readings and get started!
Talking to paper is talking to the Divine.
—B. Nina Holzer
One day when I was twenty-six and sitting at my writing desk, staring blankly out the window, something remarkable happened. I heard an inner voice—a very quiet one, one I easily could have ignored—and out of desperation, I listened to it. And that changed everything.
It started out like a normal afternoon. The San Francisco fog was rolling in, settling over rooftops and fringing a far hillside dense with eucalyptus, and its heaviness matched my mood. My writing was going nowhere. I’d harbored a burning ambition to be a writer since I could remember, and I had finally summoned up the courage to really do it, cutting down my hours as a high school English teacher and spending the rest of the time cloistered in my room, hunched at the computer, trying to tune out the sound of my roommates through the door.
But nothing was going as planned. The short stories I was desperate to finish were stalling out. The only writing I seemed able to do was one long, rambling journal entry after another. Worst, the quiet I had so carefully carved out kept filling itself up with a mysterious grief. Day after day, I cried over my notebook, feeling confused, exhausted and even ashamed.
That day at my desk, my frustration reached a tipping point. Why couldn’t I write? What was I doing wrong? I wanted to break something, or scream, or sob. None of this was unusual. My struggles were typical of any young, impatient writer who has not yet learned how to slow down, to inhabit the quiet that writing demands, to relax the agenda of the mind. But then something surprising happened.
My heart wrung out like a dishrag, I cleared my desk of everything except a blank pad of paper. I tilted my face to the ceiling. I give up, I said silently, turning my palms upward. You tell me what to do. I suppose I was talking to God. Or the angels, or my Higher Power. Whatever it was called, that benevolent force had always been there for me. The name didn’t matter, and its existence wasn’t in question.
What was in question was How Life Really Worked. What was I doing wrong? Why was I so miserable? How were any of us supposed to navigate all the pain and desire and obstacles life seemed to overflow with? How could we love each other and be good people and get what we wanted and fulfill our destinies and actually be happy? Like most people—and especially most twenty-six year olds—I had a lot of questions. But on that day, my question was simple. I just wanted to know how to make writing easier, and I was tired of trying to figure it out by myself.
You tell me what to do, I prayed. I didn’t imagine I’d get an answer. Or that the answer would end up being about so much more than how to write.
After my prayer, I sat there for a moment, welcoming the relief of surrender. I don’t know if I really expected anything to happen. At first, nothing did. But then I started to feel an odd sensation at the top of my head, like a tingling circle tugging upward. The energy made my head move on its own a little bit, in a tight circular motion, as if I were honing in on a signal. It was a weird feeling, but not an unpleasant one.
Next, words appeared. They were silent, but I somehow heard them, or sensed them. They were like a whisper with no sound, or white words on a white chalkboard. Without knowing where they were going, and relieved to be writing at all, I jotted them down.
A blue place. Riding sunshine, currents. It sounded like a poem. But then it started to shift. This is what’s in store for you. This is what I hold. Come to me. Lose your mercy for the voice that takes you down.
Was this stream of consciousness? It felt kind of like that, except less random, more pointed and precise. And it was addressing me.
I am telling you what to do, the words went on. Be open. Stay light. Move certainly on the water. Even as my pen moved easily across the page, I questioned myself. Was I making this up? I didn’t think so. I certainly wasn’t thinking it up. The words were just there. But they felt so light, so quiet. Like maybe I was imagining them.
After three pages, I stopped and reread. You must listen and let go. This is the task. Make yourself ready. Close out the others. Hear only yourself. I am with you. I will help you, but there is much to do alone. Be careful. Keep your vision clear. Hold on. I felt lightheaded. What was happening here? What was this voice? And where was its sense of certainty coming from? That definitely wasn’t from me.
In the days that followed, I sat at my desk whenever I could, filling pages this way. Disoriented and a little freaked out, I told no one what was happening. I still wondered if I was making it up. I had stopped feeling the tingling on my skull, and other than making me tired, the whole process felt so quiet, so subtle and—increasingly—so very natural, it was hard not to wonder if this was a fantasy I had concocted to comfort myself, or to get myself writing again.
But inevitably, when I put the pages aside for a day or two and reread them later, my doubts receded. The voice didn’t sound like me. Its certainty, its tone of dignity and authority, even the word choice and the brevity of its sentences—none of it echoed the way I normally wrote. Also, there was this weird kind of amnesia happening. As soon as I wrote in this way, I promptly forgot the content. That was odd, and it happened every time. Whenever I went back and reread what I had written, it seemed to have been written by someone else. Which I was starting to feel it had.
That was over twenty-five years ago. I have been fortunate enough to stay in conversation with that wise voice ever since, filling many notebooks over the years, bringing my ordinary struggles, my frustrations, and my existential questions, and receiving amazing wisdom in return.
Along the way, I became a published writer and teacher of creative writing. I based my classes for adults—which I named The Intuitive Voice—on some of the principles that came through in that guided writing.
Listen and let go.
The ideas were simple, but my students bloomed as a result of them, finding their own voices, both inside and out. As I saw my students grow, I thought to myself, something more is going on here. Some deeper transformation. Some radical shift within themselves.
The same has been true for me. The more, over the years, I have listened to the teachings I’ve received, the more profoundly I have changed. Not so much in the circumstances of my life, though those have shifted too, but in the way I have come to understand things. What it all means. What we’re all doing here. In short, I have been shown, over and over again, what life looks like not from a human vantage point, but through the eyes of the soul. And that shift in perspective has changed everything.
The number one question I get from people now is, who are these Guides? What is this voice that comes through in my writing Unlike a medium, I don’t have the sense of a separate entity, a “someone” with a history, name, or gender. What I’m tapping into is a nameless collective energy, a benevolent presence beyond my conscious awareness and much greater than me, but also somehow part of me. It’s a connection I believe we all can have access to within ourselves on some level.
Early on, I asked directly, “Who are you?” We are your multidimensional selves, came the response. Your friends. Your partners in Light. This definition feels right. The Guides are both me and not me. They are both a “we” and the greater “I Am.” One intuitive I know calls this collective presence our “higher aspects.” Another calls it the “Godself.”
Most importantly, these “friends” or “higher aspects” are deeply wise and unfailingly kind, and yet they do not put themselves above me or us. They emanate a profound humility and even gratitude for us and what we face on our human journey. They view our struggles with tremendous love, patience, and compassion. And yet they urgently want us to elevate ourselves, to begin to see ourselves the way they see us and for who we really are.
Or as they would put it, Who We Really Are. To become our Selves, as opposed to our selves. (The capital letters, as we will see, make all the difference.)
I offer this introduction to let you know where the readings for the course come from, and also to explain how intuition, or inner listening, transformed my life and how I got so passionate about the subject. Your own journey of inner listening will be uniquely yours, and there is no right way for it to happen. As we begin this course, I invite you just to be open, to explore, to pay attention, and to see what happens.
WEEK ONE ACTIVITIES:
ENERGY CLEARING MEDITATION (Total time: 20-25 min.)
Please set aside some time to listen to the following meditation and follow along. If you’ve done energy work before, this may feel very familiar. If not, that’s OK. Just go with it and notice what you sense, see, or feel along the way.
Be sure to watch my video message this week first, to hear what I have to say about energy hygiene! (Below is a recap of what I said, in case you can’t access the video for some reason.)
What is “energy hygiene?”
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are all made of energy, and we each exist in an energy field or “bubble.” That energy field get very full and cluttered with other people’s energy, excess thought and emotion, and debris from living in a complicated world with other people. If you are a sensitive and compassionate person, you might be prone to taking in even more than others. That energetic clutter can make it difficult for us to separate our feelings from the feelings of others, and to get quiet enough to know our own truth.
That’s why it’s so important to practice what’s called “energy hygiene.” Energy hygiene is just what it sounds like—the practice of taking care of and cleaning your energy field on a regular basis, just like you would do with your physical body, and your home. (After all, you live in your energy field, too!)
Remember, there’s no right way to experience any of this. You may or may not “see” colors or images, feel warmth or tingling, get a bit emotional, or feel like you’re just “imagining things.” Just notice what’s true for you and we’ll talk about it as we go forward.
If possible, plan to repeat the energy clearing meditation a few more times this week.
Some questions for after the meditation (jot down your answers if possible):
- How was that? Easy? Difficult? What did you feel, see, or experience, if anything?
- How do you feel after the meditation—energetically, emotionally, mentally, and/or physically—compared to before? What state did the meditation put you in?
WRITING EXERCISE: THINKING ABOUT “SUCCESS:”
Many of us, without really thinking about it, tend to live in a future-focused way, with the sense that we need to get somewhere different from or better than where we are now. This forward-looking orientation is encouraged by our culture, which puts a lot of stock in the idea of being a “success,” which is usually measured by what we achieve on the outside.
I put that word, “success,” is in our course title, but I think of its meaning differently. I’d like you take a few moments this week to reflect on the word and the idea of “success” as a way of beginning a conversation.
Please consider the following questions by jotting down whatever comes to mind. This is just a thought experiment—there are NO right answers!
- What does “external success” look like? In our culture? To you personally? What comes up for you when you hear that phrase?
- What about “internal success?” Do we have a definition for that? How would you define it or what do you think it would look like?
- What tension exists, if any, between these two ideas for you?
- Might the soul have a definition of “success”? If so, what do you think it would be?
WEEK ONE READINGS:
A little introduction from the Guides:
Go within. Begin to encounter the Divine mind within yourself. You will begin to feel yourself as part of something much greater, more ineffable, more compassionate, more Eternal, than you ever thought possible. And that will give you Peace beyond what you can imagine.
Embrace your own heart. Know it as your teacher. It is your eternal compass and you can follow it to your greatest awakening, your greatest potential.
MINI-LECTURE: What is Personal Mastery?
The title of our course is: “The Path of Personal Mastery: Trusting your Intuition for Spiritual and Personal Success.” That’s quite a mouthful, but there are a bunch of words and ideas in there that underlie our work together and I want to take a moment to explore.
#1. We’re all on a path.
I’m interested in process, not destination. LIFE is a process, not a destination. This is a profound distinction. Everyone in our group is exactly where they need to be, and we all have different experiences and different perspectives, and that’s perfectly OK. A perspective of understanding and compassion is so important—letting ourselves (and other people!) be wherever we are and not judging ourselves harshly for ANYTHING. That’s the attitude we’re going to try to share.
I’m not so interested in the “self-help” perspective, as in something is wrong that needs to get fixed. Self-compassion and GROWTH along the path are the goal. Not perfection, but peace and learning and the acceptance/embrace of human imperfection. So let’s be here in the spirit of growth and compassion and being on the path together.
#2. Mastery of the self—a.k.a. alignment with What Is—is the focus.
What does that phrase mean?
“Personal mastery” is the state of being aligned with life as it is, from the inside out. It is a set of skills and a way of knowing that allows us to move forward confidently on our human path with faith, purpose, peace, and the certain knowledge that we’re never alone. It is a perspective that allows us to access a sense of underlying calm in a realm of ups and downs. It means feeling in alignment with Who We Are and what we are doing here, and in connection with something greater.
A teacher of mine once defined “enlightenment” as the ability to live peacefully amid darkness and light. We can also think of that as unity (at-one-ness) within duality (the world in all its complications and separation). That’s personal mastery. It means having access to “the peace that passes all understanding,” and knowing that state as the truth.
It does not mean always being in that state, or never suffering, or feeling pain, or not being confused or angry or anxious or any of the natural human emotions. Instead, it means we develop, over time, a baseline state of being in harmonious alignment with both our imperfect human experience and our own underlying Divinity and connection with everyone/everything.
#3. Intuition is the key.
HOW do we gain Personal Mastery? It’s through developing and trusting intuition. Inner knowing is the NEXUS, the meeting place, between the human self and the Divine, or the self and the Self. It’s how we contact God, or our soul, or our purpose, or whatever words you want to use for who we really are and why we are here.
The word TRUST is key. In order to access and benefit from the power of intuition, first we have to TRUST that it’s there. We have to be willing to go inward and find it.
Next, we have to learn how to listen for it. We have to learn to read our own language of intuition, and it’s different for everyone. We’re going to have fun exploring that in the course.
Finally, we have to say YES to our inner knowing. Not every time, but more often than not. This takes practice. It requires TRUST to let ourselves be guided by it, particularly because the promptings of intuition don’t always match up with what the mind or other people or society wants us to do.
I’ve always felt very drawn to the river as a metaphor. Dropping down into ourselves, getting into the Divine “flow” of our lives, can be like wading into a river. Like a river, the intuitive flow, or the current of our souls, has a direction and a purpose, and we can’t push it or redirect it. It will show us where it needs to go.
#4. The result is a deep transformation.
When we do learn to trust our intuition, the result can be remarkable, even magical. We can get reconnected to a sense of peace, purpose, and connection with the Divine flow and with our own souls.
We can experience ourselves as loved, valued, and never alone, knowing our lives as vitally important no matter how seemingly “small,” and knowing that all is truly well regardless of all the ups and downs happening within us, around us and in the world.
It’s a tall order, to be aligned with ourselves, to listen, to follow our own knowing, and to know ourselves as greater than we think we are. But that’s the big adventure we’re going on together in this course! And don’t worry, wherever you already are on that path is perfect.
FROM THE GUIDES: The real action is all inside
If we cultivate an attitude of strength, of willingness, of courage, of curiosity—a sense that we want to know what is in us, and what is beyond us, and who we really are and what, indeed, we are really doing here, then trekking into the silence day after day, as a way of living, can be a great, mythic adventure, a hero’s journey, a pioneering trek greater than all the heroic adventures in the outer world.
Do you want to know why we are all so fascinated with outer adventures such as these? Ascents of Everest, descents into the deepest caves, journeys into space? It is not just because we love stories of courage and danger and discovery.
It is because we Are, in our very being, stories of courage and danger and discovery. Or we can be, if only we are willing enough to enter our own silence, our own Selves, to see what lies within.
Remember the quote from the Gospel of Thomas? “If you bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you, that which is within you will destroy you.”
There is another way to phrase it. “If you become willing to go within and listen, what you find will save you. If you never go within and listen, the not listening and the not finding will destroy you.”
Not malevolently destroy you, mind you. Not in a purposeful or malicious way. But in the slow, insidious way that untold truths can eat away at us, can burn up the life force, sapping it with the energy it takes to keep something down, to keep it hidden, to look away.
Like most everything you can think of, the truth about Silence and entering the silence of your own life is a paradox.
We want adventure and pleasure and distraction, and most of all we want freedom from pain. We imagine great achievements in the outside world, all the things we will do to make a name for ourselves or prove our worth or garner for ourselves the attention we so desire. We imagine that these things will make or break our life experience, that our sense of our own value hinges upon certain things either happening or not happening, certain goals either being met or not met, certain attributes displayed or not in the public eye, or at least in the eyes of others.
When in fact the real “action,” if you will, is all inside.
Can you face yourself in the dark? Can you make the journey into your own silence and stand it there? Can you do this very heroic, very private, totally invisible thing for which you will get no outside reward, not in the typical sense, and which in fact may carry with it certain disadvantages in an earthly sense? A sense that you are separate from others, that your “achievements,” while great indeed, are not easily shared?
This is the true meaning, in our eyes, of the word Pioneer. This is what it means to brave the unknown, to explore, to go where few have gone before. The Self, in a sense, is an unknown country, and one to which only you truly have access. And the work you do on that self/Self, if you will, since the lower self and clearing it out is an inevitable part of the work, is the one true achievement, the one true journey, the journey to which all other journeys—mythic, real-world, epic, fictional—actually refer.
The Grand Adventure.
Do not be misled by how quiet it seems, how unimportant or unimpressive it seems to sit, say, for fifteen minutes in your living room or in your car or on your bed or wherever you can get a moment of relative silence, undisturbed.
It is huge. It is, in this age of tweets and texts and nonstop striving and rushing and struggling and exchanging information and seeking entertainment and above all, distraction distraction distraction, a truly radical, heroic act.
To act as though silence has value. To act as though you have value, beyond what you say or do or how you look or act or who thinks what about you or what you achieve in this life. To act as though Eternity exists, and you have some share in that. Which it does, and which you do.
You are a precious Child on this Earth, one with work to do, work within yourself, work on yourself, all of which is work benefitting others as well.
Because your silence is My silence.
Your struggles are my struggles.
Your inner journey is my inner journey.
What you do for yourself in this way, you do for all of us.
Clearing out the dark.
Facing the truth.
Detaching your worth from the many externals that vie for your attention.
Loving All That Is by connecting to your Self in the silence.
Which is the meeting point where we all truly live and where eternity resides.
And finally, I leave you with a poem from Kabir, 15th century Indian mystic poet, Sufi, and saint:
Don’t go outside your house to see flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.
Next week’s topic: The Road Inward