Wandering through Christianity, Buddhism, and Unity to my current interest of studying the Tao, I long ago exchanged organized religion for a more profoundspirituality. Structured religion gave me a moral and ethical compass for living life. Eastern philosophies expanded my understanding. But, my spirituality deepened after a life altering illness, decades of consciously working in the garden, and a burgeoning sense of gratitude.
“Religion…shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude…in relation to whatever they may consider the divine.”
“…In order to usefully interpret the realm of common, shared experience and history, we must each make certain “over-beliefs” in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.” — William James
Discovering this naturally created pulpit and pews on my visit to Scotland this summer was a curious surprise.
Scotland Outdoor Pulpit and Pews
View from an outdoor church in Scotland with natural made pulpit and pews
View of sky, mountains and water from natural outdoor church in Scotland grass in Scotland
I imagined listening to a sermon among these bluest of skies, lush green mountains and clear waters. The pastor wouldn’t have to speak a word.
Blessed with three good weather seasons, I’m most often in the garden — seeding, nurturing, harvesting — plants, but also my thoughts and spirit.
For me, attending church is gliding over morning dew glistened grass to the vegetable patch or flower garden…feeling the warming sun on my skin and a serene sky’s embrace. Hearing “the quiet.” At first. And then the hum of bees, chirping birds, and steady rhythm of high-pitched crickets uniting in choir. Sweet nature gloriously sings a sermon to my soul.
Gardening teaches me so much about living life. Besides providing quiet time to regenerate, and avoid constant interruptions of marketing ploys or messages that can wait, gardening offers opportunities to look more deeply into life.
Stepping into the tomato patch today, I notice some are ripened red, some still green, some are somewhere along the way. Brighter, faster, bigger, smaller, slower — each is on its own natural path. Some are still hanging on, some have fallen, others have reached their potential, or are late bloomers. Each embodies the same components — vine, skin, flesh, seeds, juice — but they are not exactly the same. I do not understand why current culture insists humans must have the same thoughts, feelings, sensitivities, and opinions, that to be one we cannot be unalike.
We are a universe of red, white, brown, tan, black, tall, short, thin, plump beings, with indigenous dialects and languages, who think diverse thoughts, eat different foods, live in disparate climates, etc., etc., etc. Yet the Thought Police want to neutralize our inherent differences, insisting we cannot think independently, that our beliefs, words and opinions must all conform. Consider this:
An unripened tomato is not the same as a ripened one, not in color, size, taste or maturity. Similarly, a beefsteak tomato is not a cocktail tomato or a plum tomato or cherry tomato or tomato of any other name. I cannot force it to be what it is not. Some are blemished, some appear perfect on the surface, some may be rotten inside but I accept and work with each as is.
Instead of denigrating others for being who they are, or demanding an unrealistic homegeneity, a more equitable approach is through mutual respect — something greatly overshadowed anymore by stratospheric sensitivities. Now I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) but I honor individuality. Can culture shift its caliginous restraints on our genuine differences?
Over 15,000 varieties of tomatoes exist throughout our world in every shade of red, burgundy, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, almost black, even streaked and striped. Numerous flavors range from tasty sweet to tart or well-balanced. I think it’s safe to say some prefer one type over another. There is nothing wrong with that. Each has its own comfort zone for thriving, and some are more versatile than others. Distinct qualities are refreshing. As with the human race. I don’t want to have just cherry tomatoes. Do you?
“Have you heard from Maria lately?” I asked another participant in Tai Chi class this week. “I’ve phoned a few times but hadn’t heard back.”
“Oh. I thought I saw something in the newspaper this past weekend. I think Maria passed away.”
I felt stunned. Barely able to concentrate, I wanted to run out of class and check the obituaries. Call another mutual friend.
Before it’s Too Late
Have you ever had a nagging sensation where a person keeps reappearing in your thoughts? Not because you are obsessing over them but feeling a need to contact them, see how they are.
This happened to me last December. My accountant, I knew was battling cancer but this was ongoing for nearly 10 years. Still, he kept reappearing in my mind. I brushed it off, thinking it due to the approaching tax season. He died before the end of January.
The year before, my tailor kept popping into my thoughts. He and his wife were a lovely older couple and when sending them my annual thanks giving greeting I learned he passed away in October.
My friend, Maria, would have been 96 this year. I can still hear our “Oohs” and “Ahs” over the splendor of blooming ornamental trees and giant rhododendrons while driving her around country roads this spring. We planned a similar outing for autumn’s vibrant foliage but…it didn’t come about.
Maria absorbed my thoughts while driving to Tai Chi this week. I planned on phoning her after class that afternoon. Only now am I beginning to understand why Maria occupied my mind. She was buried at 11AM that morning.
intuition/ (in-too-ish–uh n) /noun
knowledge or beliefobtainedneither by reasonnor by perception
instinctiveknowledge or belief
a hunch or unjustifiedbelief
A Voice with Many Names
My yoga teacher’s ability to accurately see from the inside amazes me. Just as the physical body communicates in the only language it knows — a headache, a pain, sleeplessness, an itch — the brain communicates through an inner vision, a nondescript sense of nonconscious emotional information. Derived from deep within, some call these diaphanous sensations a “gut feeling,” “inner voice,” “intuition,” “sixth sense,” “instinctual feeling,” “hunch,” or even God.
The Answers are Deep Within
Struggling to solve problems on my own for years I could not comprehend “the answers are within.” The incessant mental chatter, like current TV commentators, blocked out any truth. And when that sense of knowing withoutreallyknowing did appear, I discredited it as irrational or dismissed it as unfounded fear. I didn’t recognize the guiding light.
I now see that when my inner voice speaks to me, I need to take notice and probably some action. Here’s what I’m doing to develop a more intimate relationship with my inner voice. You can befriend yours too.
5 Tips for Tapping Into Intuition
1. Get quiet. Intuition speaks softly. The answers may be subtle and only heard through quiet. If seeking guidance for a problem, engage in a relaxing activity like meditation, walking, music, or anything to stop the mental chatter. Then close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and ask your sixth sense to dialogue with you.
If I think of my inner voice as shy, it is more easily coaxed to speak up when I am peaceful. I must listen closely. It may be only a whisper. At first.
2. Pay Attention.When ideas, insights and impressions come out of nowhere, grasp them. Be aware that the brain, aka sixth sense, is communicating to you.
3. Respond to Your Inner Voice. When the brain says call or visit this person now, do it. You may not get the chance later.
4. Record Your Gut Feeling.This helps determine the accuracy of that sixth sense once you have chosen to either ignore or act on the insight given.
Logging in my recent experiences makes me less likely to brush off similar future occurrences.
5. Get to Know Your Self. Make friends with your intuition. Develop that bond of trust. Thank it for its accuracy. As you listen and honor your sixth sense, it will become a valuable part of who you are and a useful guide for decision making.
“It’s all about learning to use unconscious information in your brain… Just as people can become more comfortable making decisions when they apply logic and reasoning, they may also become more adept at trusting their intuition when they use it more frequently over time.” — Live Science
Have you experienced a sixth sense? Do you act on it?