Intuition is one of the more maligned words in our lexicon. Intuition is not a psychic ability to foretell the future but an awareness of the totality of information that surrounds us. One of the great wonders of life is how we, as sentient beings, collect and process information. All of us are acutely aware of our physical senses – taste, touch, smell, sound and vision-- and can functionally process this info with our intellect. This is pretty basic and fundamental to our existence. We can then add body feelings, emotions, memories, energy, love, shadow and vibes as more sources of input that are less conspicuous. There are also more ways of processing this information than just using our minds. We can process information with our bodies, with our hearts and our souls. Most likely there are a whole host of other inputs and processors of which we are still unaware.
The exercises here are intended to get you started integrating all available information and to get you comfortable with interpreting this information using other systems than your intellectual mind. So, we will frequently invite you to “get out of your head”. This may be hard at first and may be a little uncomfortable. We don’t want you to abandon your intellect just move it aside long enough to get in touch with the output from other systems. What does your body say? What does your heart say? What does your divine knowing say?
If you decide to engage with BodyMindBusiness, these exercises are great kick-starters to get you familiar with your own being. Most importantly have fun! We have done these exercises with our families, in groups, with our partners and they are always revealing. A magical consequence of participating fully and honestly with these exercises is that we gain a much deeper understanding of what motivates ourselves and the people around us.
Body talk is the easiest exercise and it is a fundamental awareness that you will need for the rest of the exercises. Get better acquainted with your body and its subtle and telling language.
Your body doesn’t lie, or at least it speaks its truth as it knows it. Without any convincing. It just does. But it’s possible you have never noticed. Just as in communication between two people, most of the communication is done through body language. The same is true for getting to know your true self.
Want to learn your body’s love language? Recall a moment in your life where you experienced pure bliss. What do you remember? What were in your surroundings? Allow your senses to recall the temperature, sights, sounds, smells, etc. Allow it all to flood your mind. Feel the warm sun on your face, cracking of a fire or frosty air catching your breath…whatever the moment – fully virtualize it with all of your senses. Who were you with, what were you doing?
Feel it in your body
Now, as a witness, shift your focus and awareness to your body. Where do you feel a sensation? A tingling or lightness, an expansive feeling? Is it in your chest, your heart, your head or maybe your arms or hands? Just notice it, without trying to change it. Now lean into it; amp it up. Feel it fully to the point it nearly takes your breath away. Recall other truly happy moments of pure joy. Notice if your body was communicating with you in a similar same way.
Find the contrast
Now contrast that with a memory of a time you needed to solve a difficult problem that involved others, negotiation and self-judgment. It was stressful and you were under pressure and constraint. Notice your body now, without any need to change it. Does it feel expansive or constricted? Where do you feel the sensation? Lean into it. Notice. Breathe. What did you learn? What were you telling yourself was true? The truth will always set you free, and offer a feeling of freedom. Would you have made the same decisions and taken the same actions if you had noticed your body wisdom? Even if you don’t like what you feel, there is divine wisdom in what your body is telling you.
Learn your body language
Assuming you have relatively little unhealed trauma, the body can offer great wisdom in supporting you to make decisions. If deciding on a new job or opportunity – what does your body say about it? When virtualizing what you’d expect the experience to offer in its fullness, where are the body sensations? As you begin to trust your body talk, you will find life seems less dramatic or hard as you make clear, unapologetic decisions that are in integrity to your true, higher, happy self even if you are scared as hell. Indecision can be extremely self-sabotaging, brutally time-consuming and lead to huge energy leaks. May you close the leaks and find great self-acceptance and love as you become fluent in this new language.
Discover Your Core Values
People tend to collapse values and morals together but there is a distinction. Values are not right or wrong, they just are. When we are honoring our values – living in alignment with them, particularly our core values, we are happy. We feel more like our true selves, we have a “free to be me” spring in our step; we are in our “happy place”. When we find ourselves in an environment that is not compatible with our values or worse yet compromising them, we are not happy. When we are unaware of our core values, we can inadvertently compromise our values and diverge from the truth of who we really are. As a response, we become numb and settle into a less than happy place.
How do we find authentic happiness? We must honor who we are and live a life that is in alignment with our core values, as much and as often as possible. How do you discover your core values?
Grounding your feelings in experience
It is essential that we use life experiences to discover our core values. So tell me two stories. The first being about a time in your life that you would not want to repeat. I’m not looking for deep dark trauma, loss or secrets, rather describe a time that just wasn’t great. Time and space of the experience is not important. The story could have taken place 5 days ago, or 15 years ago, and experienced in 5 minutes or over years. It doesn’t matter. Think of a time when you were frustrated, felt stuck, unhappy or living someone else’s dream? What made it an unhappy time? Think about why it wasn’t great? What is underneath the drama and emotion – how did you feel inside when you were in this situation and what was going on around you? Capture this story on paper in a format that is easy for you.
Ok, now let’s flip it around and tell me a story about a time in your life that was magical. A time when you were on the top of your game, “in your element”, or when you felt powerful…tell me that story. What was it about this time that made you feel so happy? What was going on and how were you showing up? What was happening around you that caused you to feel like you could totally and fully be yourself? Again, capture this story in a way that is easy for you.
These stories, in comparison, often mirror the same set of values. For example, let’s examine a person, John, who values nature, perseverance, achievement and recognition. In the first story, the yucky story, John relates a summer where he worked long hours in a laboratory basement on experiments for his thesis that once again failed to show the results he expected. The second story, the good story, he relates, is an experience when he got first place in the Bridger Ridge Run and felt expansive when he crossed the finish line after a grueling but rewarding run across the Bridger Mountains. In the first story, John is not in an environment or situation that honors his core values. Although he persevered, John was not in nature and couldn’t claim achievement or gain recognition from failed experiments. In the second story, John is feeling happy because all these values are being honored and fully expressed in the moment.
Discover your top-10 values
Once you have your stories written out or in mind, look at a comprehensive list of values. Steve Pavlina has a great list and can be downloaded here. Focus on the feelings that the above-mentioned stories evoke and run through your values list with a highlighter marking the ones that resonate with you. The stories are important because without considering life experiences, you often “should on yourself” and choose values out of guilt or shame and miss the significance of this exercise. My first time through the values list, I felt intense guilt for not choosing “family” as a core value because I believed the “right” answer should include family. Keep in mind values just are; they are not right or wrong. Move quickly, but methodically through the list. Stay out of your head and grounded in your body. Quickly check in with how your body feels with each word. What does it feel like if you were to honor or compromise that value? See if you feel strongly at either or both extremes. For example, do you feel excited imagining a life honoring this value. Do you feel restricted and fatigued imagining a life where you compromise the value?
Another way to consider each value is as if it was a jacket you were trying on at the store. Try the jacket on. How does it fit? Is it yummy? Does it make you feel sexy in your own skin? If not, try on the next one. There is no judgment.
For example, try on “accomplishment” how does it feel to you? Do you feel expansive? How’s your breath – is it shallow or deep and strong? Do you feel anxiety or confinement when considering what it feels like to “be in accomplishment”? Just notice, without any judgment. Highlight the values that give you a positive and pleasurable feeing in your body. Unless there has been trauma, your body will not lie to you. Allow it to guide you to what feels right and stay out of your head. Resist analyzing each value as if you “should” or “should not” have it as a core value.
Refine your list of values
Accumulate a list of the values that elicit a strong response from you. Once the list feels complete, begin grouping like values. How you group them is totally and completely unique to you. The groupings do not have to make sense to anyone except for you. Ideally you’d group them into a few “buckets”…anywhere from 5-12 (try not to go over 10 categories). Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Some buckets might have 20 or more words while others may only have 3-5 or even just a single word.
Once you feel complete with your categories, find a word or value that best describes that “bucket”. It may be a word from the grouped list of words, or you can make up a new word that best describes it.
Go to planet Zogg
Now for clarifying your values. This part of the exercise can be surprisingly difficult. I recommend you work through it with trusted friends to keep you honest and make it fun. Get in a playful mindset – and tap into your imagination because we are going on a journey to planet Zogg!
Download the values clarification worksheet and follow the instructions using the final top-10 values-categories. On planet Zogg you have everything you need in terms of food, water, shelter, etc. (this is for those of you who have a high value for security ☺). Planet Zogg is similar to Earth with one difference. On planet Zogg you can only honor one value in a lifetime. As you board your spacecraft you come to a basket filled with your core values. Draw two. As you examine your draw, ask yourself would you rather be fully in alignment with one value versus the other. As you chose, say aloud “I chose [ insert value ] over [ insert value ]”… and continue as you compare all the values on your list.
For example, upon comparing the two values grit vs humor you determine that there is no way you can live on planet Zogg without humor. Upon selecting humor over grit say out-loud: “I choose humor over grit.” Then humor gets a point. Do this until you have completed all pairwise combinations over your list of core values. The 3-5 values with the most points are your most important “core” values.
Typically, you are hard-wired for these values and they have been important to you your whole life and will continue to be so.
Take inspired action It’s critical to your authentic happiness and well-being that you honor and live in alignment to your top 3-5 values. Understand that we compromise our values every day and be aware of where you make compromises. The cause of feelings of discomfort, anxiety and unhappiness can often be traced to circumstances where we unintentionally compromised our core values and because we were unaware of it we forget who we are.
We can agree to compromise a core value if we feel it will ultimately lead to a place of greater honor and fulfillment. Be intentional and aware of this agreement and commit to it for a limited and finite duration. The longer you are in compromise, the greater energy it takes to get back in alignment with who you truly are and remember that you have everything you need to live a life of great fulfillment. Determine what you can do today to take inspired action towards honoring your core value(s).
Identify one thing you can start doing or stop doing that will create more alignment with your top values. If you are not able to commit to inspired action, remember that simply being aware of your core values increases your alignment and assists you in remembering the extraordinary, inspiring and engaging person you truly are.
This last exercise is a little harder, sometimes a little darker but what we love about it is there are no action items once you are done. You just shine your light and let it go.
All credit and acknowledgement for this exercise goes to Leslie Temple-Thurston and her book The Marriage of Spirit. Leslie's spiritual journey awakened her to the polarities that exist everywhere. Where there is light there is darkness, good vs bad, consciousness vs unconsciousness. If you resonate strongly with words and written language, we highly recommend her book and the other great exercises therein. You can download chapter 11 and the exercise from The Marriage of Spirithere.
We like to use this exercise when we are stuck and can't figure out why whatever aspect of our lives we are working on is not shifting. Frequently, this exercise will reveal some hidden beliefs or agreements you have that are lurking in the shadow.
We all have shadow energy or darkness that counterbalances our radiant light. Our shadows can impact our behavior in unintentional ways as it seeks to be noticed and acknowledged. True authenticity cannot be achieved without reckoning with this darker side. Once acknowledged, the darkness becomes a little lighter and you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your motivations.
Ready? Let's get started.
Choose your polarity
Choose a polarity for this exercise. There is an infinite number of possibilities. Pick one that feels right for you and your current circumstances. Believe me, you will never run out of these challenging duos. Right vs wrong, love vs indifference, sad vs happy, sexy vs undesirable, safety vs danger are just a few examples. Its easiest to explain if we walk you through an example so let's use success vs failure for our example. A sample list can be downloaded here.
We have done this in groups too. Have your participants pair off and one partner will ask the question and record the answers as the other partner dictates. The person recording quickly gains insight to where her partner is getting stuck. Refrain from leading your partner in a direction, stay neutral and just witness. You will have time in the end to review your impressions with your partner.
Create the quadrants
Grab a piece of paper, your favorite pen and a comfy place to gather yourself and settle in. Create 4 quadrants on a piece of paper or choose 4 pieces of paper. Believe me, once you get going you can cover a whole sheet of paper with one quadrant.
Following along using our example, title the first quadrant (top left) "Desire for Success". Of course substitute "successful" with any of the poles in the polarity duo of your choice. The second quadrant (top right) should be titled "Fear of Successful". The third and fourth quadrants will represent the opposite of quadrants 1 and 2 and will receive titles of "Desire for Failure" and "Fear of Failure", respectively.
Desire for Success
Fear of Success
Desire for Failure
Fear of Failure
Start with one quadrant. Read the title and imagine yourself sitting in this quadrant. Write down whatever comes to mind. Ask yourself "Why do I desire to be [blank]. Stay out of your head, just write down the things you are feeling. There is no right or wrong or should or should not. Keep going until you run out of possibilities to your question. Move on to the next quadrant until you are complete.
You will find you want to return to the other quadrants as you trigger more answers. Or you find that a statement fits better in the previous quadrant then the one you are currently working on. This is great. Feel free to go back and forth between quadrants.
Suspend all judgement and be kind to yourself and others. Working through these quadrants can release strong emotions for some. Feel into it and breathe. Remember You are safe!
Here is my "Desire for Success" quadrant as an example
Desire for Success
Sense of achievement
Doing something right
To be selected for next level
Confidence in abilities
Achieving a dream
Inclusion – being included in the club
Proving that I am enough to myself and others
The right to be here
To be part of something big
When you are finished, read through and review your results. What comes up for you? Did you find that while you already knew you had a strong desire towards one pole, you didn't know that your stronger motivating force was fear of the opposite pole? If you did the activity with a partner discuss the results.
After you review and are feeling complete, give the lists up to spirit and ask for balance. Release and let your divine do the rest. There are no inspired-action steps. Just be confident that through this process you have rebalanced your light and acknowledged your shadow for your highest good. You can release silently or create your own ceremony of acknowledgment. These lists are probably not something you want to hang on to so destroy them as part of your releasing process.