Using your internal "knowing" to figure out where to go and what to do
Some revelations are a long time coming, though the word itself connotes a sort of sky-opening-angel-singing moment of brilliance. Mine started at the
with one of my favorite faculty
members and accomplished writer, Robert Sylwester. As a writing coach he urged me to “Write about
what you know.” I knew then it was a nugget meant to direct my craft, but I
assumed at that point it was my job to go out and learn stuff so I could know
enough to write. It’s taken me decades to figure out what a profound piece of
advice he proposed. University of Oregon
In my quest to learn and accumulate knowledge (which I do for sport) my students have benefited from the synthesis, but I often become overwhelmed with the amount of information available. Overwhelmed with the number of people out there researching and writing. So while I can teach using all that knowing, it doesn't do much for my writing. I can increase what I know, but it leaves me working from what I've grown to call “outside in.” Gathering intellectual capital and then trying to figure out what to write about it, and many times if I even care enough to go beyond first draft. Lots of ideas, not lots of completion. I have even noticed lately because of the social and economic crisis in this country I find myself overwhelmed with the options about what I spend my time pursuing—my own personal information overload.
And it’s not just me. People I teach and coach who are trying to make changes in their lives report this kind of overload of callings, options, opportunities and a defeatist feeling that creeps in and leaves them paralyzed.
Over the last year I finally figured out what Dr. Sylwester was trying to tell me.
Deepok Chopra defines intuition as a form of intelligence beyond the rational mind. When intuition is engaged the pre-frontal cortex lights up and gathers the contextual, relational and holistic information in the brain and offers up the connected dots as a “gut feeling,” a “knowing” that is outside the realm of rational thought (outside the research). For me it’s a voice from my core. When I listen and follow I am always glad. When I don’t I wish I had. When Dr. Sylwester told me to write about what I know, instead of some kind of accumulation of knowledge he meant my internal knowing.
As a gift to further my understanding the universe sent me an herbalist/healer dude who I was told had a certain magic that accompanied his herbs. So I gathered up my hankies and my writer’s angst and headed to see if he could help. In a single treatment he rid me of the sneezing, but he was just as interested in what I told him was a longing to find my writer’s voice. This was a topic close to his heart, because he has been working to craft his own pen for some time. He described for me the process he uses to get quiet and listen, and then he does what his intuition tells him to do. Previously he too had worked outside in trying to take topics and put them in words. Now he writes what he knows from inside out.
There certainly is a little magic in his space where I seem to spew out random thoughts trying to explain what is happening for me, and my epiphanies. He looked at me the other day as if it was so clear, “All of these random thoughts are connected. You just connected them. This is not an accident. Your job as writer is to connect them for your reader. And when you go inside and find that place within that has something to say and is connected to your passion, the space between the letters will be filled with joy that your readers will detect.”
Deepok Chopra in his quiet and unassuming (but oh so revered) way speaks about the process for tapping into this intuitive knowing. “Still the mind, ask a question, feel the body and it will guide you in making evolutionary choices.”
And for me this is a gift, a new way to look at sitting (or if you prefer the term meditating). When it was an outside in thing—others’ imposed, good for me, good for my health—I struggled to make it relevant (though I have been known to enjoy community meditation and I regularly do yoga). But meditation has a whole new context for me when I am sitting with an idea, getting quiet (that is disregarding all that chatter and information overload) and waiting for my internal knowing to speak, and knowing now I am there to interpret—the substance of my writing.
If you are attempting to make change, is it possible your life is moving so fast and there are so many options you are feeling overloaded, and this is the reason you feel immobilized? Are you trying to work from outside in? Is this a good enough reason for you to sit (in meditation) with your question and figure out what you know? Can you be patient with yourself as you cultivate this knowing into your own personal road map for where to go and what to do next?