Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Tuning Out and Tuning In

Imagine what it would be like to be raised with the belief that all the answers you want and need are inside you. Imagine being taught from a young age the importance of dropping down into yourself every day, becoming still, focusing on your breathing, and allowing all the mental chatter to settle so you can hear your own wisdom. Can you even imagine? I recently listened to an interview with two daughters of a spiritual teacher who described their upbringing this way, and it blew my mind! Imagine the possibilities! It certainly wasn’t the way I was raised. It’s a concept I’ve been familiar with for a long time but didn’t really believe, deep down in my bones, until quite recently. And it feels like a total game-changer.

A dear friend shared with me her story of a recent commute to work. Normally, she drinks a smoothie in her car as she drives along a winding road near her house that she knows like the back of her hand. This particular morning, as she reached for her smoothie, a voice arose inside her that told her not to drink it. Although she thought it was peculiar, she listened to the voice, and when she went around one of the next turns, she was shocked to discover an unaccompanied toddler in the road! Apparently, the child’s caregiver didn’t notice the child had slipped out of the house and made his way down the long driveway, all the way to the dangerous, country road. Had my friend tipped her head back to drink her smoothie as she normally did, she might not have noticed the child until it was too late. Fortunately, she listened to the voice and was able to help the child get back home safely.

Last weekend, Jack went out for a drive and returned home quite shaken. He explained that he was driving along, and a voice arose in him that said the purple car up ahead in the distance was going to pull out in front of him. The voice took him by surprise. As he got closer to the purple car, sure enough: It did pull out in front of him, causing Jack’s vehicle to screech and swerve. Had he not listened to the voice, he probably wouldn’t have paid such close attention to the purple car or reduced his speed ahead of time. It could have been a bad accident. In addition to being shaken by nearly getting in an accident, he was in awe of the voice that knew what was about to happen and was looking out for him.

We all have that voice inside us, and I’ve learned through plenty of experience that when I follow it, I’m much better off than when I don’t. It seems to be the voice of a sophisticated intelligence that connects us with our greater self, like E.T. phoning home or vice versa.

Last month, I committed to taking time for self-care first thing in the morning and not checking emails or social media until after I have checked in with myself. Sometimes it takes the form of kayaking on the calm river because that’s where I tend to hear the voice of inner wisdom most clearly. One morning, I paddled across the river, reflecting on what a great decision it was to be on the river instead of doing any number of other things. My phone rang, but I did not answer it and felt good about how disciplined I was with regard to my self-care time. I thought: I paddle through stillness to a quiet spot where a deeper voice arises. Right after thinking and recording that thought into my phone, a feather floated by me. It gave off an electric energy that compelled me to turn around and take a second look, and I realized it was a bald eagle feather! In all my years on the river – in all my years on this planet – I had never come across an eagle feather and considered it a powerful sign that a feather held to be so sacred would float by me like that. It seemed like a nod from the Universe for taking the time to turn away from distractions and tune in to my authentic self.

One morning earlier this month, I got out of bed at a ridiculous hour and felt compelled to take a long drive because I was certain it was the right thing to do. It would have been much more convenient to stay in bed, but I knew I needed to get up and drive. The inner guidance was very loud and clear! The image of a particular scenic overlook popped into my mind, and I wondered if I’d end up anywhere around there for the sunrise. I never checked my GPS to see what time I would arrive; I just kept driving. Amazingly, I arrived there exactly as the sun was about to peek over the distant mountains. I didn’t have to wait at all or linger to catch it but arrived at precisely the right moment, without rushing or trying. I experienced a glorious sunrise that now serves as a symbol of following my inner knowing. Every time I look at pictures of that sunrise, I feel the power of following my intuition.

On the other hand, I recently didn’t follow my inner guidance and ended up suffering a painful injury that absolutely could have been avoided if I had been more rested and centered and therefore better able to access and act on my intuition. Sometimes, the worst pain compels people to do whatever they can to medicate it away. But it can be an opportunity to really drop down into yourself and see what’s going on – what’s getting in the way of you feeling better and healing. That’s what I’ve been doing during my convalescence while staying close to home and keeping things real simple. 

Did I ever get in touch with what was holding me back as I writhed, cried, and prayed my way through excruciating pain! I confronted some deep issues and patterns that mostly involve not following my inner wisdom throughout my life – whether to please others, to be loved and accepted, or because I truly believed other people knew better than I did what was best for me. I began this healing journey feeling awful about how I betrayed and injured myself as a result of not listening to the voice of my greater self. I wanted more than anything to go back in time and prevent the injury from happening in the first place. However, when I started tuning in to my inner guidance, I realized the importance of accepting the situation and even being thankful for it because it is an opportunity for seriously deep healing and overcoming unhealthy habits I had not been able to free myself from any other way. I think I needed this to happen in order for deeper healing to take place. I’ve been listening closely to my body and what foods it wants for healing. I’ve rediscovered the joy of true nourishment and am naturally gravitating away from certain foods and people that take me out of alignment with my true self. 

It feels so good to tune in to my inner guidance system. I’m happy to report that I turned a corner over the weekend and began to feel much better. No more pain! As I started to expand my food choices and communications, I noticed instantly which ones didn’t feel right. They were more of a jolt to my system than usual because I’d been so tuned in to what felt right. I realize the importance of making space for stillness and tuning in to my inner wisdom on a daily basis. If I’d been doing that all along, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in this situation.

Sometimes it’s really hard to follow inner guidance. It’s easier or more fun or exciting to remain in denial or not face your fear, or maybe you don’t want to disappoint someone. But following intuition saves us from so much more suffering, and when we are ready, it is there for us, helping us find our way through what might feel like a no-win situation. Even though we may convince ourselves otherwise, doing what’s in harmony with our greater self will ultimately benefit everyone else, too. I have learned the hard way that betraying myself causes the worst suffering and that tap dancing around issues and being afraid to speak and act on my inner knowing ultimately prolongs and worsens the unconsciousness and suffering for all involved.

You can do the work on your own proactively, or you can wait for the Universe to step in and help you along. It is usually more comfortable and empowering to do it on your own. But if you are unable to do it on your own for whatever reason, the Universe will step in eventually. And when that happens, no matter how painful it is, be grateful. If this level of pain is what it took to get me back in alignment with my inner knowing, then so be it. The feeling of being in harmony with both my body and my greater self is its own reward.


© 2017 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (River-Bliss.com) is a contemplative photographer, writer, and educator who lives on the Hudson River. Her work combines her passion for photography and writing with her deep interest in the nature of mind and perception and her love of the natural world.

There's so much I want to share with you! Subscribe to my mailing list so you won't miss a thing! And don't worry: I won't spam you or share your info with anyone!

You have Successfully Subscribed!