Diving for Pearls with Maggie Kay
Trusting Inner Wisdom
How Do We Know It Is Wisdom?
There is a question that comes up often, which is, “How do we know it is our inner wisdom speaking to us and not some other inner voice?” The answer relates to the awareness we develop when we foster ‘mind creative’. When we are aware, we get to know ourselves. We get to see what our deeper motivations are, where we are coming from emotionally, how our conditioning has shaped our opinions and attitudes. We become lovingly aware of those things and in doing so we get more adept at choosing our responses.
Generally speaking, from a spiritual perspective, we are motivated by only two states of being. If we boil it all down, we are either motivated by love or from fear. With all the complicated things we feel and go through, we are either avoiding what we don’t want (or trying to manage life so we don’t have to encounter the thing that we don’t want), or we are coming from a place of love, connection and open-ness. Wise, reliable inner wisdom is informed by love. So, my practice in trying to learn what is inner wisdom and what is not is just simply ask the question, “Am I coming from love or fear?”
Supposing, for example, you have a decision to make on whether you should accept a new consultancy contract. If you come up with an anxious response, “Oh yes, it doesn’t attract me but I better accept it because I’m desperate for money,” then it suggests that you are coming from fear. If your response is a happy, “I would love to work with those people,” then you can recognize that you are coming from love. It sounds very simple, but sometimes all it needs is to pause and ask yourself whether you are coming from love or fear.
Another way is to do the ‘tummy test’. We talk about ‘gut feeling’, don’t we? I can be strolling around town wondering where I can buy a nice dress, and then I remember to check in with my body, the sensations in my tummy. It is like a radar, detecting whether I am getting a “yes” or “no” signal about whether I should go into a particular shop.
When we are in fear mode, we tend to feel contracted. When we are in love mode, we tend to feel expansive. So we can check in with our physical experience in our body – “Am I contracted or am I expansive?” – to tell whether or not we are in love mode or fear mode. Sometimes we can be in love mode and at the same time a bit excited and anxious. That’s just some superficial fluttery stuff. Underneath, we know we have an expansive feeling.
Back in the Buddha’s day, more than 2,500 years ago in India, there was a very rich culture with many different spiritual teachings, traditions and systems. Spiritual seekers used to ask the Buddha how to tell which teachings were good ones and which will lead them on the wrong path. He explained that if it is a good teaching it will lead you to freedom, to release, to openness and expansion. If it is a poor teaching, it will lead you to bondage, contraction, and shrinking.
So again, this is a very simple test – if a choice or decision leads to a feeling of expansion and freedom, the chances are you are in love mode and following inner wisdom. If it leads to a feeling of contraction, the chances are you are in fear mode and not in touch with inner wisdom.
So how does this fit with the practice of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’? If you say “no” to something because it has created fear in you, are you not then staying small, staying within your ‘comfort zone’ and not growing and developing?
Being aware of yourself at a deeper level helps you answer this dilemma. You might feel fearful about doing something. It might be a challenge, taking you outside your comfort zone, but having identified that, you are aware of something deeper. Often when we are changing and growing, we are confronted with a lot of scary, out of comfort-zone type experiences.
You know you are feeling fear, but you can detect that, underneath that, there is this expansive, bigger reality which is deeply motivated by love rather than fear. And so we can acknowledge the fear, include the fear, but at the same time choose to step courageously with the love. In that way, you can ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. It is subtle, but it is worth getting the hang of this more refined awareness.
Inner Wisdom and Desire
Another question I get asked about a lot is whether or not we can trust our desire and wanting. Can our ego’s desire for something override our inner wisdom? In my experience, the role of desire and wanting are often misunderstood, especially in some spiritual circles. Is it okay to want? Well, yes, unless it tips into grabbing and grasping. Let me explain.
On the Buddhist ‘Wheel of Life’, a traditional visual representation, there are 12 segments around the circumference representing the different stages in the ‘chain of conditionality’. Each one leads to the next which leads to the next and so on around and around the wheel. The important part of the chain for us is where it runs from ‘contact’ to ‘feeling’ then ‘desire’, ‘grasping’ and ‘becoming’. This is the section where we have some power to make a difference and not just run on automatically around and around the wheel.
The Buddha taught that there was only one point of freedom from this endless wheel of conditioning. The point of freedom comes in the gap between ‘desire’ and ‘grasping’ – so just after you know you want something, but before you grab it. This is very subtle. You come in contact with something and you want it, and if you are not careful, you go into grasping and that takes you on around the wheel again and you are not free.
Wanting which is relaxed and not tipping into grasping is a powerful creative state. It is blissful and it takes you up a positive spiral, away from being trapped on the wheel. I have called it “havingness”. Abraham-Hicks call it “eager anticipation”. We are clear and bold and feel deserving in what we want, but we are also relaxed, trusting and surrendered which allows us to attract and receive what we want without grasping.
If you look at the Abraham-Hicks book Ask and It Is Given, it is all about embracing our wanting, embracing our desires, because that is our creativity. That is us deciding where we want to go next. That is us discovering ourselves. We are presented with things we like and things we don’t like all the time, and that’s how we figure out where we are going next. So of course we want – we want to be free, we want to be happy, we want to evolve. So it is about welcoming wanting, and then learning this art of havingness. Havingness is not grasping, it is not ‘must have’, but neither is it ‘can’t have’.
It seems to me that some people who follow Buddhist teachings think that you should get off the wheel before wanting. So they stop themselves feeling, cut off from their genuine desires and don’t allow themselves to want anything, mistaking this as a practice of non-attachment. This kind of misunderstanding of Buddhism and non-attachment is life-denying and over ascetic. Even the Buddha didn’t do that. The Buddha taught the Middle Way between ascetics and hedonism.
So this is a really subtle but powerful thing to understand. It is not ‘can’t have’ or ‘must not have’ or ‘don’t deserve’ or ‘shouldn’t have’. We are beings that want and desire and we can welcome that and “kiss the joy as it flies”. That is freedom.
As William Blake wrote in his poem:
He who binds himself to a joy,
Doth the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
So we are looking for eternity’s sunrise. Kiss the joy! Love the joy! Love your man, love your car, love your food, love your house, love the beach. Enjoy it. Have more of it! If you want a bigger house, a bigger holiday, have it, but have it with havingness. Open to havingness. Send out your intentions and surrender to being surprised by how the Universe delivers. That is what the promise of life is all about.
If we are in a state of true havingness – open to our desires and surrendered to receiving them – we are entirely aligned with our inner wisdom and intuition. We are in love mode rather than fear mode. Our wanting becomes intuitively informed. Our wanting is wise. There is no interference with our intuition by part of us that wants something that is not wise. We are relaxed. There is no grabbing. We are in the gap between wanting and grasping and we start to rise up the spiral – and this is blissful. We used the expression “dwelling in the gap” in Triratna.
What comes from there is bliss. If you fully inhabit something, you are really in the moment – if you really see the beautiful pink color, you really feel the lovely cool breeze caressing your face – it is completely blissful. And we can’t do that if we are rushing around or thinking of where we are going. If we are in the moment, it is as though time bends and everything opens up. The more we meditate, the more we enjoy the mindful gaps, the more we can enjoy life.
And the more we can see things for what they really are, the more we feel loving kindness. When we give something full attention we are loving it. And when we love something, we give it our full attention. Love and attention are one and the same thing – and inner wisdom contains them both.
Known as the Inner Wisdom Coach and formerly an ordained Buddhist, Maggie specialises in meditation, mindfulness, law of attraction, metaphysics and spiritual intelligence for life, love and business.
As well as coaching one-to-one, she trains accredited Thrivecraft life coaches and meditation teachers and runs retreats and workshops for soulful entrepreneurs, coaches and well being professionals.
In 2016, with her son Jamie grown up, Maggie established Thrivecraft Home Hub, a riverside country retreat in Cornwall, UK, where she lives with her soul mate husband, Patrick.
Her new book – Diving for Pearls: A Wise Woman's Guide to Finding Love (O Books) – is a highly readable true love and spiritual adventure story laced with tips and teachings on meditation, Buddhism, inner wisdom and relationships relevant to all.
Maggie's vision for the future includes taking Thrivecraft worldwide via a new online academy; continuing to mentor coaches, well-being professionals and meditation teachers to grow and prosper their businesses; producing audios of her full range of guided meditations; and writing further books to inspire and support everyone to create rich, happy and fulfilling lives.
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Thrivecraft with Maggie Kay
Wisdom. Inspiration. Self-belief.