An article by Crystal Little and Doug S., MA, MSW, LCSW
We are grateful to be here with you this week to begin a journey into the heart of discernment – practice. Parts 1 and 2 of this series serve as orientation to discernment as both a way of life and a decision-making process. We discussed ways that practicing discernment as a decision-making process provides growth towards living a life rooted in wise discernment. As we practice the 7-step discernment process through various entry points over the next few weeks, keep in mind that while we are using a discernment process in these exercises, what we come to know about ourselves during the journey towards a life rooted in wise discernment is the true treasure.
Entry Points: Nature and Body
The natural world and human body have been paired as co-entry points for several reasons. First, a balance is found in moving between the external world of Nature and the internal world of Body. In the exercise below, you may start with either the internal or external path. But, you will seek confirmation through the path you did not chose first. This pairing is designed to reveal a secret of wise discernment – discernment works best when we use entry points that ask us to engage in different ways of knowing. By practicing discernment through an internal and external way of knowing, we are both expanding our ability to move between entry points with ease and training our consciousness to resolve dualisms like internal and external reality.
Many of ancient humanity’s mythologies either claim that Earth was created from a body, like Tiamat in the Enuma Elish, or is a body, like Gaia in Greek traditions. For millennia, spiritually minded individuals have often employed a divine female, and her body, to symbolize the Earth. Additionally, the idea that the human body is a microcosmic representation of the macrocosmic cosmos/reality is an ancient idea that still flourishes within the Awakening community. With the help of modern science, we can now consider evidence that shows how the natural world and human bodies are deeply connected as, potentially, one living organism.
We are spiritual beings having an embodied experience; our bodies are entry points to the divine! A holistic approach to discernment is one that approaches our bodies—and embodiment—with reverence and asks our bodies to speak to our minds the wisdom they have longed to impart. The exercises below help us with the listening!
Write your discernment question for this exercise in your journal. If you are unfamiliar with how to form a discernment question, you can find guidance for this process here (link to Part 2 blog). You will use both entry points – Nature and Body – in this exercise, one as your first entry point and the other as a way of seeking confirmation. Decide if you will do the Nature or Body exercise first. Even if you want to use Body as your first entry point, you will need to go outside, preferably somewhere quiet without a lot of people around.
- Ground and Center: Use your preferred method. Or, close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Imagine roots growing down from your feet or tailbone until your energy roots connect with the heart of Gaia. Allow Gaia energy to flow up your roots and into your body. Imagine Source energy coming down in a beam, starting at the crown energy center and going down through the root. Ask for a quietness of the ego-self and request that a clear connection to your Higher-Self/Anchored-Self be established.
- Identify the Question: Present the question written in your journal for this week to your Anchored-Self and ask for guidance.
- Collect and Consider Data:
- Nature – Open your eyes. Be still and notice your surroundings. As you gaze upon Creation, allow yourself to be drawn to a natural object (tree, stone, plant, leaf, wind, sky) or being (cat, dog, squirrel, bird, bug, butterfly). Be present with the being or object. You may want to silently “ask” what it is there to show you about your discernment question. Be still and listen with your heart. Record your observations.
- Body – Keeping your eyes closed, do an internal scan of your body. You may want to start with your root chakra and scan upwards through your chakra system. Does a specific chakra ask for your attention? Are there other spots in your body that feel especially bright or cloudy? After you have finished this scan, recall your question for discernment. Observe how your body reacts. Does your throat or stomach get tight? Does your back or shoulders tense? Do you feel relaxed or euphoric? Do you have butterflies in your stomach? Record your body’s response to the question.
- Reflect and Remain Open to Insight:
- Nature – As you connect with the natural object or being, reflect on its role in nature. Is there wisdom in this process that relates to your discernment question? Ask your Anchored-Self to reveal correlations between what you have observed in the natural world and your discernment question. Be still and listen with your heart.
- Body – Reflect on how your body reacted to your discernment question. Did you get a sense of calmness or anxiety, tension, relaxation, or excitement? What did you see in your internal scan? Ask your Anchored-Self to reveal connections between your bodily reactions and your discernment question.
- Make a Tentative Decision: Based on information from either the Nature or Body exercise, decide on a possible way to move forward in this process.
- Seek Confirmation: Go back and repeat steps 3 and 4. If you chose Nature as the first entry point, use the Body exercise to seek confirmation. And, vice versa – if you chose Body the first time, use Nature to seek confirmation. After you finish step 4 the second time, decide how to move forward and proceed to step 7.
- Access the Process: If you reached a tentative decision and it was confirmed, you can either move forward with you plan of action, or, if this is a major decision, use two more entry points before you move ahead. If you did not receive confirmation, or the data conflicted, use this question in next week’s exercise to gain further clarity.