There are different stages or times in life when we sense a change is needed. Sometimes these phases are precipitated by a loss, job or relationship change, health challenge, or move. Other times there is no physical event to signal a change, but the need is felt nonetheless.
You may find yourself either interrupted by life changes beyond your control or you may be experiencing the desire for change without these external markers. It may seem puzzling to you that you are doing everything as it seems you always have and wonder why you feel unsettled or restless.
Paying attention to these feelings however, is key to understanding important hallmarks of growth and learning that your soul is intending for you.
The soul speaks to us through symbols, metaphor, feelings, physical sensations, and inner senses.
The more we allow quiet time for reflection the more likely we will be aware of these signals.
The path of going inward cultivates an inner language that becomes more familiar the more often we take this time develop our inner awareness. One benefit of meditation is that as we quiet the mind we engage a higher or wiser part of ourselves. This self, which I call our soul or true self, prompts us to seek joy, inner peace, fulfillment, understanding, presence, and love.
In our outer-focused culture, however, the benefits of reflection, solitude, personal growth, emotional healing, and spiritual understanding are sometimes overshadowed in favor of accomplishment, materialism, comparison, and group acceptance. Soul growth is both an inner and outer journey. Its outer nature is reflected in relationships and circumstances that cause us to pause and make sense of ourselves and our world in relation to another.
The inner journey, however, can feel lonely at times, and is often not readily supported. There are no easy rules and everyone’s life, while there are certain similar themes, is different. The religion of our childhoods may have taught us rules that provided structure and categorized perceived right and wrongs. As we mature, these rules can become rigid and stifling and hinder rather than encourage growth.
The soul asks us to accept, to withhold judgment, to be self-loving, and to remain open-hearted.
Keeping the heart open can be a difficult lesson when we’ve known suffering or been hurt by another. By staying open to our feelings, being present to life despite pain, we enter an opening into a greater connection to our soul.
My parents, who likely learned from theirs, parented with autocracy and harsh punishment. Self-assertion was not allowed and fear was used to control and demean. I contained an inner image of myself as somehow lacking and suppressed my feelings for many years. I feared that I was never enough and I felt I had to keep my needs to a minimum in order to experience approval or acceptance.
It’s a lesson I’m still unlearning. Lately I’ve been working with a shamanic therapist who is helping me unravel years of conditioning myself to over-give or question my own needs. Although I’ve been aware and working on this issue for many years, there were still areas in my life that required deeper change.
How did my soul speak to me? It came in many forms.
I noticed repeated themes in my dreams of self-denial. I experienced a past-life regression of great intensity and emotion centered around feelings of responsibility for others. Finally, my body’s exhaustion warned me that I was burning out and was accompanied by feelings of resistance to doing things that I was forcing myself to do, but I ignored these feelings and pushed on. I was staying busy but ignoring my inner signals that I was giving too much and not experiencing enough joy.
I needed to pay more attention to my body, the underlying feelings, the sadness of self-forgetting. Once I allowed myself to feel the pain and express it, the pain subsided and I could feel an inner peace that had been eluding me.
Despite doing my best to be self-aware, I had lost touch with my own inner senses.
I see this in my work with clients, whose issues often mirror my own. There is a common theme of accommodating ourselves in work and relationships in order to keep going or not make a fuss. The problem, though, is that while there may appear to be order outwardly, inwardly our soul is trying to get our attention to find a new way.
We may feel empty, tired, frustrated, angry, sad, lonely, bored, or restless. The key is to determine whether or not these feelings remain persistent. Our moods can fluctuate throughout the day.
Feelings that continue for longer periods, however, signal that we need to pay closer attention to our inner self.
Learning to navigate these times of inner development, which are often times of struggle, loss, or uncertainty, is something most of us have to learn as adults. It can be reassuring to know that we are not alone in this. The hero’s journey is a path we undertake in a quest to become more authentic and empowered in our lives.