Super Soul Sunday
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Elizabeth Lesser on Decision Making
Posted: Mon 01/23/2012 04:11 PM
By Elizabeth Lesser
For years I have used the words of poets to guide my life. And by poets, I don’t only mean Emily Dickenson or Walt Whitman. I lump into the job description of “poet” all sorts of thinkers and mystics: Jesus, Dr. King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson... Anyone who can still my restless and worried mind with the magic of a few powerful, purposeful words is crowned a poet in my gamebook.
Here’s what I do: I memorize one line from a piece of writing and I use it to begin and end my morning meditation. Sometimes that meditation lasts only as long as the line itself! Sometimes it happens in the car as I rush to work. I have found that a line of poetic writing is like a vitamin pill. If I can’t eat breakfast, at least I have the potent nutrients packed in a pill. And if I can’t spend a chunk of time wrapped in the healing cloak of silence and contemplation, at least I get the jolt of insight from my chosen line of poetry.
This week I have been using a line from Rumi—the Sufi poet from 12th century Persia. Rumi says:
"Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love." *
I am drawn to this line when I in the process of making a decision. I think it’s particularly hard for women to make big decisions because our lives impact so many other lives—it’s as if there’s a jury in the room when we are trying to determine our next steps. Depending on your stage of life, that jury may include your children, your mate, your colleagues, your parents, or all of the above plus a myriad of other people who depend on you. When Rumi says “let yourself be silently drawn,” he is telling us to usher the jury out of the room for a while—to drop down beneath the choppy waters of the mind, into the deep stillness of the ocean. Ahhhh. Sounds good, right?
That oceanic silence is within you—always. It is waiting for you. And in its healing chambers, if you listen closely, you may begin to hear the voice of your authentic self. Rumi calls that voice “the stronger pull of what you really love.” Sometimes we’re afraid to get still enough to hear that voice. What if it should lead us in an unsettling, even dangerous direction? What if it tells you that what you really love is quite different from the life you are leading now? What if it messes with your head and you end up making a big, impetuous mistake?
Not to worry, because that’s not the way the still small voice works.
Let’s say you are struggling with a relationship. Perhaps you are asking, “should I stay or should I leave?” The still small voice will not answer that question directly. Instead, she will wrap her arms around you; she will bolster your sense of self; she’ll advise you to trust your instincts, to respect your own needs, to speak your truth. She will lead you into honest and fearless conversation. She will keep your heart open and your mind clear. She’ll tell you to do the following:
1. Spend time every day in the silent chamber of your inner ocean. You will be amazed at what happens when you commit a little chunk time each day to meditation. You can find great teaching tapes at www.soundstrue.com
2. Get some help from a therapist or coach or wise friend who can help you sift through any worn-out belief systems that are running your life. Until you know and trust your own heart, you are giving from a dry well. If you are interested in being a good wife or mother or colleague or citizen; if you want to make a difference in the world— start at the beginning by being good to yourself.
3. Take care of your precious body. Eat well, exercise, heal. It is difficult to make a decision from a weak place. And when the body is ailing, all our other strengths are diminished.
Rumi was able to say all of that with only a few words! Take them to heart and they will lead you to a wise and sustainable decision.
* For the full poem and others by Rumi, read The Essential Rumi which is compiled and translated by Coleman Barks and published by HarperSanFrancisco.
Elizabeth Lesser is the co-founder and senior adviser of Omega Institute, the largest adult education center in the United States focusing on health, wellness, spirituality and creativity. Find out more about Omega's workshops and retreats with some of the leading spiritual teachers of our times www.eOmega.org
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