The question I most often ask my coaching clients, in various guises, is ‘what do you want?’. The answers are always fascinating because they are often wrapped in ‘I should…’ ‘I need to…’ and ‘I have to…’ They are more about expectation than desire. To uncover the truth, I ask again: ‘what do you really want, what does your heart desire?’. And it becomes clear that this question can be surprisingly difficult to answer.
This is no surprise to me however, as I was in the same situation four years ago. I started working with a coach and when she asked me this question, I must have looked like a rabbit stuck in the headlights! My mind was frantically searching for an answer, but there was nothing. Surely not, I thought. Surely I knew what I wanted? I could not answer this simple question and I was deeply shocked.
At the time, I was a mum with two young children, busy with nappy changes, weaning, teething, endless laundry and all that comes with a baby. I was so busy being a mum that I had forgotten what I really wanted. My coach set me homework to ask myself that question at least five times a day for the next two weeks. And, while I needed more sleep and longed to drink a whole cup of tea while it was still hot, I really struggled to identify what my heart truly desired!
The answer you seek is already within
It seems that when we’re faced with a challenge or a difficult decision, we often look outside of ourselves for answers or permission. We look to friends, to family, to self-help ‘experts’ and even celebrities in the press. Yet we are looking in the wrong place. I believe the answers we seek are already within us, as 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi, explains:
“The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.”
Over the years, I have learned to look within for the answers: to quiet my mind, listen to the clear and knowing voice inside myself, and trust that she always has the answer to whatever question I’m asking. This has not always been easy as the ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’ can be very loud and persuasive, drowning out the truth. Yet believing I have the answers has taken me all the way from frazzled mum to qualified life and career coach.
Today, I take this belief into my coaching practice where my role is to help clients find their own answers. They may be very well hidden and tightly wrapped in expectation, but the most perfect solution to their challenge or decision already exists within them. One of the first exercises is to identify their Inner Wisdom. This profound exercise can be incredibly moving as the client re-connects with a part of themselves that may have been asleep for some time. And it is always a revelation for clients to learn that they do have the answers, even when they’re not at all clear. We continue to draw on this precious resource throughout our coaching relationship and they learn to trust in themselves and turn to their Inner Wisdom for the answers they seek.
Mindfulness meditation on the Inner Wisdom
So how can you tap into the clear and knowing voice inside yourself, your Inner Wisdom? Rumi reminds us to be silent and listen and I believe mindfulness meditation is the key. The five-minute mindfulness meditation below is a quick and easy practice to access your own Inner Wisdom. Coupled with five minutes of journalling, to jot down your thoughts after the meditation, will help you to hear, trust and follow the guidance of your Inner Wisdom.
1. Sit in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and activate the do not disturb function on your phone.
2. Set a timer for five minutes. Ten minutes is good if you have time, remembering that a few minutes a day is better than nothing. Start the timer.
3. Ask yourself ‘what do I need to know today?’. Or if you’re looking for the answer to a particular question, you can ask that instead. Then sit and focus on your breath. Focus on feeling the cool air enter your body on the inhale and the warm air leave your body on the exhale.
4. It is inevitable that your mind will wander, that’s what minds do! Notice where your mind has wandered to – it may give you answers to the question you posed – then bring your focus back to the breath, repeating the cycle until the timer sounds.
5. When the timer sounds ask your question again and listen quietly for the answer.
6. While you are still in this quiet, receptive state of mind, take a few minutes to write down notes of where your mind wandered to during the meditation and the answer to your question at the end.
If you tried this mindfulness meditation to access your own Inner Wisdom, I would love to hear how you got on. I hope you found the answers you were looking for.