"Always we hope someone else has the answer.
Some other place will be better, some other time, it will turn out.
This is it.
No one else has the answer, no other place will be better, and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being, you have the answer;
you know who you are and you know what you want.
There is no need to run outside for better seeing, nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being; for the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart and see the way to do is to be."
“A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles”, M.J. Ryan
Have you ever had times in your life when you had an important decision to make, or were considering different possibilities for the future and felt somewhat stuck or confused? This is a part of the human experience that we all share, and it can be incredibly frustrating! Sometimes we gather too many opinions from family and friends, or we have made exhaustive lists of pros and cons, yet things seem fuzzier than ever and we don’t know where to focus our attention or how to proceed with a course of action. Let’s take a look at some factors that may be at the source of our uncertainty and how to shift from confusion into clarity.
COMMON SOURCES OF CONFUSION
One of the most common reasons people create confusion for themselves is due to conflict between the head and the heart. We find ourselves bouncing back and forth between the analytical input of the brain and the intuitive language of the heart. The left brain often disguises fear as “rational decision-making” and may create false limitations, when what we truly need is to face our fears and step into the unknown. By the same token, the heart is a risk-taker and may guide us toward choices that are emotionally charged or fulfilling in certain aspects; however, these risky decisions may have immediate gratification and not serve our best interests in the long run. Depending upon our personality type and past experiences, we are programmed to habitually follow either reason or emotion. Combining the wisdom of the heart with the more logical aspects of the mind creates the grounded yet dynamic presence of people who are here to awaken and expand consciousness - those who are true movers and shakers in the world.
Another factor that plays into confusion are samskaras. What are samskaras and how do they influence our decisions? Samskaras are energetic impressions from our past experiences and past lives, which reside in the causal body (one of the subtle bodies of the energetic anatomy) as dormant “seeds”. Once activated, these “seeds” migrate to the mental and emotional bodies to be expressed as desires, fears, and preferences in the mind, which may influence our decision-making process more strongly than we realize in the moment. Meditation and Yoga Nidra are both excellent practices for clearing the energetic residue of samskaras.
Projections are another major cause of confusion. Projections of the personality (fear, shame, guilt, anger, etc.) that have been trapped in the Manipura (solar plexus) chakra can hinder our sense of clarity to make decisions with clarity, trust, conviction, and boldness. Manipura is translated from the Sanskrit as “city of jewels” or “lustrous gem”, alluding to the seat of agni (fire), inner sun, and power of transformation that lies within. The energies of Prana Vayu (inward flowing energy) and Apana Vayu (downward and outward flowing energy) meet at the Manipura chakra (solar plexus) in a healthy, balanced system. Every decision and action step that we take towards honoring our path, the truth of our being, and our higher intentions, strengthens the energy at the Manipura chakra.
OTHER FORMS OF MISIDENTIFICATION THAT CAUSE CONFUSION & WAYS TO CLEAR THESE
Distractions and restlessness caused by anxiety, worry, or remorse, provoke us to jump from one idea, spiritual teaching or teacher, job, or relationship to next, without any true clarity or sense of commitment to what we are doing or why we are doing it. The antidote for restlessness and anxiety is practicing Santosha, which is literally translated as contentment, satisfaction, and acceptance; doing our best in the moment and accepting the results of our efforts. Santosha also promotes equanimity with others who are balancing their own needs as they share what they have, as well as accepting our current circumstances and ourselves, without becoming upset or resentful in the process.
Emotional conflict or overwhelm can be incredibly debilitating to a clear decision-making process. Once in awhile, we all feel negative emotions such as judgement, resentment, bitterness, or criticism, however, when we allow negativity to become a permanent resident in our psyche, it dims our inner Light and silences the voice of our internal guidance, keeping us mired in confusion, which is the fodder of the ego. Fearlessly confronting energy-sapping emotions and sussing out the root causes with open-heartedness, compassion, kindness, and empathy (for ourselves, as well as others) straightens and aligns our emotional body so that we can see ourselves clearly and move beyond self-imposed limitations.
For myself, I find the most challenging patterns to break through are resistance, apathy, numbness, stagnation, or emotional withdrawal/shutting down. We are constantly being bombarded with information, electromagnetic waves (both beneficial and non-beneficial), emotions and energies from the people around us, as well as the resonance of our planet and the planetary bodies in our universe. For most of the population, the only way to cope is to numb or shut themselves down with substances, television, or screen time. How can we deal with the stresses of life in a healthier way? The most potent practice is mindfulness or being present to whatever is arising and emerging in our internal and external realities. Next, engaging with the world from a place of innocence, acceptance, and curiosity helps to alleviate the burden of stagnation, the tension of resistance, or the frustration of desiring things to be any different than what they already are. Finally, the ability to share feelings with vulnerability, responsiveness, and emotional openness is what creates connection and intimacy.
It is the ability to build or strengthen emotional intelligence that helps to heal us and free us from self-created confusion. The practice of these four attributes: self-awareness (recognizing your own emotions), self-management (controlling impulsive behaviors and following through on commitments), social awareness (understanding and responding to the emotions, needs, and concerns of others, or the power dynamics in a group situation) and relationship management (communication, conflict resolution, developing and maintaining healthy relationships) are imperative in healing. Strong, supportive relationships help us to stay open and flowing and actually improve our own self-awareness.
We have all had moments in our lives when we rely too heavily on the external senses, becoming caught in cycles of chasing what feels pleasurable and avoiding anything that causes suffering. The more we indulge in the cycles of desire and gratification (or aversion and avoidance), the more we fortify and reinforce its power and influence in our lives. When faced with any decision, the key is to breathe, relax, open, and surrender to the moment, allowing any sensations to move through your modes of perception and awareness, instead of grasping or creating identification with either pleasure or pain. From that point, take a moment to pause, reflect and create space between the sensations and any reactions that may be stimulated by sensory input before taking action.
Perhaps the most elusive obstacle to clarity is the lurking shadow of doubt…the ego’s BFF. Doubt is sneaky and creates separation in many subtle and not-so-subtle forms and disguises. One moment, we are filled with confidence and enthusiasm, ready to take on any challenge, the next moment doubt seeps in and we feel unworthy or ill equipped to handle even the most basic responsibilities in life. The secret to eliminating doubt from our lives is to trust with a capital “T”, and trust is all about letting go - letting go of expectations, letting go of our social conditioning, letting go of the masks we wear, letting go of the idea of “failure” (everything is an experience). Finally, the giant elephant in the room, letting go of the illusion of control. Are we really in control of anything that happens in our lives? Or does the ego simply trick us into believing that we are in control? Why do we experience challenges and hardships? Because the Universe knows that we are worth more than just the easy things in life! When we trust the Universe, we trust and believe in ourselves and when we trust and believe in ourselves, we trust the Universe. If we are acting from a place of conscious alignment with the Universe, how can anything ever be against us? Looking for another way to kick doubt to the curb? Practice GRATITUDE!
TECHNIQUES FOR SHIFTING FROM CONFUSION TO CLARITY
Practice conscious breathing: inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 5. With each count of 5, follow the flow of Prana (energy) within your body, noticing where the energy feels stuck, stagnant or leaky (especially at the seven physical body chakras). Experienced practitioners can use their awareness to sense energy blockages within the subtle bodies. Open a dialogue where you sense and disturbance or blockage in energy. Examples of questions to ask could be: where/when it began, what it has to teach you, how to clear it, etc.
When considering several options or possibilities in decision-making, choose one possibility, bring it into your imagination as vividly as possible, then tune in and feel whether your energy is open, flowing, and expanded, or tight, constricted, and contracted. This takes time, patience, and practice to master in the moment, however it will help you to recognize which options are the most favorable. Various forms of meditation (either still or active) sharpen the instinctual ability to sense, feel, and perceive energy in many ways. “Following your gut” is another powerful practice. The belly, or gut, is where we digest our experiences and emotions, as well as food. Feelings of empowerment are associated with the Manipura chakra, located, you guessed it, at the navel. This is the seat of clarity, knowledge, wisdom, self-confidence, and the ability to make appropriate decisions. Close your eyes, place your hand over the area slightly above the navel, bring your full attention and awareness to this sovereign center of inner sight and investigate any images, feelings, spontaneous thoughts that may arise. Interact, journal, draw, dance, or give expression in any way that feels healthy and productive. You may be surprised at what emerges from this process.
Muscle testing is an alternative healing diagnostic tool that allows you to ask your body “yes” or “no” questions. It works with the idea that a positive association or “yes” response strengthens the muscles, while a negative association or “no” response weakens them. A popular form of muscle testing is performed by connecting the thumb and index finger of the left hand to make an “O” shape, then inserting the thumb and index finger of the right hand into the “O” of the left hand and applying gentle pressure to try to push the fingers apart while resisting with the left thumb and index finger. Always begin with a test question such as “I am a woman/man” or “My name is…” and note the body’s response. Then, move on to your decision-making questions. Another form of muscle testing is to face north and ask a test question, your body should lean forward for “yes” and backward for “no”. Note: dehydration can alter the body’s responses, so drink some water before muscle testing.
May these methods and this information serve you well and assist you in shifting from confusion into Clarity!
Gratitude & Love,
To delve deeper into clarity and healing, Brook is offering her powerful retreat this February called Clearing the Core. It is hands down the deepest personal healing work that you can do with Brook at this time. It is the work that takes you along the transformative journey of self-discovery to get to the absolute depths of who you are. This class creates the space to finally bring clarity and light, and to shine conscious awareness on the aspects within you that are truly in need of healing. Those pieces of you that may be having the experiences of illness, dis-ease, blocks, emotional heartache, traumas, pains and suffering can once and for all have the chance to shift, change, and heal at the deepest possible level. Come join us February 1-4, 2018, at the Sequoia Retreat Center in California. Registration and information available here http://creationcenter.org/retreats/clearing-the-core/