April 2015

More on Feeling and Knowing

Judging by the response I have received, my words on the significance of ‘knowing’ seem to have struck a chord in the hearts and minds of some of you.
In these next few paragraphs I wish to return to this theme to discuss the idea a little more and to add some clarification which may help your own reflections.
Often we hear people refer to following their “gut reaction” when they are faced with a decision or choice, especially a difficult one. This reaction occurs in our solar plexus and stomach and sometimes it may perhaps be useful in helping to make a decision. It is largely associated with our “fight or flight” response which is a primitive mechanism designed to protect us from danger – should we run away from the situation or stand firm and confront it? Such a “feeling” based mechanism is primitive and evolved for a primitive type of human being, where physical survival was his prime and all-consuming task: whether to escape from the perceived threat, or to fight off the predators and search for food and shelter.
Today, in western society at least, our challenges and decisions mostly take on a different form to those of our ancestors. They are often more subtle, very plentiful and complex, and such a feeling based mechanism was neither designed for, nor capable of, fulfilling the sophisticated role of choice making we now need. Although this phenomenon begins in the stomach or “gut”, its physiological symptoms often rise higher, via the vagus nerve, through the heart and up into the throat, certainly making us afraid and maybe driving us into panic in extreme cases, where we are overwhelmed by what confronts us. Then it becomes a real nuisance, clouding our higher judgement and knowingness, where it usually has more to do with acquired fear and limiting thinking than knowing, and the options that can reveal to us. It tends to consider what we may lose rather than what we may gain, for it doesn’t have access to those new possibilities. It craves what it feels to be security. However, in order to truly grow in life, we have to let go or “die” to one life or pattern, so we can be “born” into and benefit from another. When I have to make a decision my gut reaction or feeling usually suggests that what my “knowing” knows to be right, is actually wrong! The sensation of knowing does have a feeling or sentient element to it, but it is entirely different. With knowing, there is no feeling of fear, no uncomfortable sensation rising through us, no sense of “what do I stand to lose if I do this.” Sure, we may feel briefly excited, even inspired, but not afraid and certainly not awful! There is no rampant adrenalin rush nor any sense of dread in knowing. It is often calm, being almost a “cool warmth.” Knowing stays cool, whatever else is going on. It is visionary and rises above the fears and limits that hold us back. Knowing is prepared to take risks and jump into the unknown, embracing it with faith and a centred courage. It doesn’t concede to appearances, to the obvious, and the limits of the intellect’s view.
Feeling as a mechanism of choice and decision making is extremely unreliable and ambiguous, tending towards procrastination, as we become trapped in an apparently comfortable pattern of behaviour because it is safe, controllable, or so it seems, though it never is. It will take us round in circles, usually preferring what seem to be the easy options. How often does the safe job suddenly become redundant, after the opportunity we had to change things (which our fear rejected because we were cosy where we were) has gone? It is also very difficult to tell the difference between a fear reaction and a “give it a try” excitement one. Anyone who has experienced pre-performance “nerves” as I once did as a professional singer, will understand what I mean. I loved the title of the book “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” for it sums up much of the truth of this issue.
Knowing is a more sophisticated process, dependant for its effectiveness on the level of our psychic development and spiritual connection. It takes us beyond feeling into a more detached level of our consciousness. It will lead us beyond the “why not” deliberations as we wade through the list of reasons not to do something. Instead it encourages the “how shall I go about this constructively”, the “let me embrace the changes that come” thinking, as we prepare at least in our hearts to experience the new, the unknown, to take a chance or two. “He who hesitates is lost” is a phrase for reflection perhaps. I also like “I’d rather regret failing than regret not trying.” Of course none of us want to fail, but temporary failure (and it is always temporary) can be a wonderful teacher and stimulus. On the other hand, if we follow our well-honed knowingness, we will not fail, but grow and discover much greater possibilities than the ones our “feeling” would have us hang on to in our fear.
Knowing knows there is a great solution out there that we cannot yet see. It is closely connected to our deepest and highest desires, desire being a gift of our Divine nature prompting us to follow our wonderful dreams - “whatsoever things you desire, think on these things.” Knowing tells us that the persistent vision and idea we entertain is right and good for us, however impossible it may seem to achieve, however daunting it may appear. It may well threaten our apparent, perceived security, our safe life.
However, if we accept that “there are ways that you know not of”, trusting our knowing becomes a more and more effortless and relaxed an activity. Then the opposition, often total, as I described in my earlier blog, miraculously disappears and what we saw and knew to be true for us, our knowing, opens a way and takes us forward to greater and greater possibilities and adventures, often in surprising ways. A man I knew some years ago had a vision for a business venture. He knew it could work though it required him to take great risks both financially and in other ways. Everyone thought he was mad, even fearful for him. He refused to be dragged into the limiting feelings his friends and family experienced. He persisted with his knowing, in the consciousness that anything is possible to he who believes. Then one of his main opponents, who “felt” it wasn’t right for him, none the less offered to back him financially and gave him the loan that the banks would not. They thought he was mad too. The last I heard of him a year or so ago, he was very, very successful and extremely happy.
I am not advocating a reckless, “stick your finger in the fire” approach to life; but knowing will never take us there anyway. It will always find a way we can manage, however radical it may be. It will open doors where none appeared to be, shine lights on hidden pathways if we have the courage to follow its call. And it will always take us to our Promised Land something that the “Don’t! Stay as you are!” feelings are very unlikely to do.
So what can we do?
Feelings aren’t useless. But gut feelings come from the pre-programmed subconscious which only accepts what we have already told it to accept. We have to understand these lower feelings and harness them to give us something better than we have. We are meant to manage and use our feeling self and not be a slave to it. So when we have a “gut” reaction, first we have to learn how to bring it into our hearts and hold it there so it is transformed. This is the beginning of understanding and a broader, higher perspective on things. Then we may lift it into the head, our sanctuary where the mind meets the spirit and we learn how we can truly “know.” Once mastered, it will certainly offer a different view, and maybe a very different one from our gut reaction, even the opposite.
This takes practice and practice but it is most worthwhile and it will liberate us from the limits of feeling. On its own it is misleading, and traps us in our throats and throat chakras, stifling clear self-expression and creativity. Offered up to the knowing mind and spirit it is invigorating and takes our thoughts and choice making way beyond the thraldom of fear.

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Be true to your light,