Learning to listen to our intuition is one thing.
But truly being willing to obey it is another thing altogether. Especially when what our intuition is asking us to do goes counter to what the ego wants or thinks makes sense.
Just recently I was traveling back home after spending two weeks teaching in the New Mexico red rock desert. I was driving with a friend and on this particular day we had planned on making it as far as Sedona, AZ and spending the night there.
On our way, we stopped for fuel in the town of Holbrook, AZ a little podunk place out in the middle of nowhere. We were also a bit hungry so I went inside the gas station mini-mart, hoping to find a snack to tide us over until we got to Sedona. I was actually very surprised to find that they had a homemade yogurt fruit parfait that totally hit the hunger spot as well as being relatively healthy.
As I was wandering around the store I also came across a pre-packaged dinner salad with chicken and romaine lettuce and other veggies that looked incredibly fresh and wholesome. And I was completely puzzled when my intuition clearly told me to buy one of those salads.
Now like I said, we were headed to Sedona, which was less than two hours away. Sedona, among other things, is a real foodie city. They have tons of gourmet restaurants with names like The Field that serve fresh, organic fare. And the name of that particular restaurant is taken from the Rumi poem that says "out beyond right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there".
Definitely my kind of place, both spiritually and gastronomically.
I had big plans for the great meal I was going to enjoy in Sedona. So I was terribly confused when I was compelled... THREE TIMES.... to go back and look at those salads. Each time with a strong compulsion to bring one with me.
But I ignored it even though I had just spent the prior two weeks yammering on about how important it is to listen to and OBEY our intuitive promptings.
Fast forward two hours to arriving in Sedona where the streets were MOBBED with tourists. We drove around trying to find a place to stay and were told repeatedly that there was no room at the inn because there was a car show, an air show AND some kind of festival happening. Which meant that lodging was TOTALLY booked in Sedona proper but was also unavailable in towns on either side.
We were by this point exhausted because we had been driving for hours and the priority was finding a place to stay .... pronto. Sleeping in the car was simply not an option. Which meant that we had to leave Sedona and drive another 90 minutes before we could find a town with an available bed.
Once we were settled in we didn't have the juice to go out and find food ( plus the nearest restaurant was called the Road Kill Cafe... not exactly a great omen) but DID discover a couple of bags of potato chips in the cupboard of our hotel room. So we were able to at least get some calories in our bellies. But all I kept thinking about was how it would have been so easy and satisfying to have one of those gorgeous salads on hand.
If only I had listened.
However, the story didn't end there. I was supposed to meet my husband in the Sierras the following day. We had planned on spending some vacation time in the mountains together after my intensive teaching schedule.
But on the day he was supposed to leave town he heard a voice in his head, loud and clear saying " Stay home. Don't go on this trip."
He ignored it, of course, because we had made plans, spent money, had expectations. So he got in the car and within a few hours encountered the trials of Job. Hail, sleet and storms. Spending EXTRA money that first night for a crappy hotel room in addition to having to pay for the nice place that we had booked weeks in advance that he never even got to stay in because he couldn't get there.
For a number of ill advised reasons, pushing on anyway even though after everything he had already been through, we had talked and sort of agreed we should throw in the towel. Finally getting to the mountains and me having a minor medical emergency that required leaving where we were and engendering ANOTHER double hotel room fee. And then driving 12 hours to get me home. Where he immediately came down with the flu.
It was total hell. And we were just trying to have a good time.
The fact that my intuition seemed to have an inside line on the lodging situation in Sedona and that my husband's somehow knew that this trip was going to be a total disaster is still a disturbing mystery to my logical and rational mind.
There, of course, is the rub. The ego hates, hates, hates it when things happen that it can't control or understand. The part of me that wants things to make sense, to have a clear chain of cause and effect doesn't know what to do with knowledge that has no basis in external circumstances.
We also have a very conflicted relationship to our desires. We want what we want. But many of us also have a misguided, misinterpreted Buddhist perspective that says that desire is trouble.
But what the Buddhists really mean is that we suffer when our desires are not aligned with reality.
And in both of those instances I just described, my husband's and my intuition were very clearly plugged into a GREATER reality.
We want something because we think it's going to make us happy. Dining at one of the hip and happening eateries in Sedona was something that I believed would bring me pleasure. And it would have, if the external conditions had aligned to make it so. The point is not that I can't ever want to eat in Sedona and even enjoy it.
The point is that I need to know when to listen to my inner guidance. And when to surrender certain desires. Because trying to manifest those desires, when it's the wrong time for them to happen, will only lead to a dramatic increase in suffering.
My intuitve guidance was only trying to help me. And having one of those salads from the Holbrook gas station would have been way less suffering than eating that bag of ancient greasy potato chips. My hubby listening to his intuition would have saved both of us a tremendous amount of stress and trauma and vacation PTSD.
We have a belief that our rational mind is the "realistic" aspect of ourselves.
That our intuition is woo-woo, airy-fairy, frivolous and not to be trusted. But our intuition is the part of us that has an inside line on the REALLY big picture. It is way more tuned in to what actually IS as opposed to how we want things to be. It's our ego that lives in fantasy so much of the time. It wants what it wants and will create all kinds of havoc trying to make what it wants happen. No matter the cost.
It's not that we can't sometimes satisfy our egoic desires. But they need to be in alignment with the greater reality. Because when you get into an argument with reality it always, always wins. But when your personal desires and the-way-things-are-already-aligned are working together, beautiful, amazing and even miraculous things can happen.
So I continue to learn the hard way, teaching what I most obviously still need to learn.
Hoping that because this last experience of NOT listening was so very painful, I will pay closer attention to when my intuition gives me a heads up in the future. And buy that salad. Cancel that trip. Do whatever she tells me. No questions asked.
Because I really DO want to be done with unnecessary suffering. And obeying my intuition's wider ranging, mysteriously based, overarching wisdom and insider information seems to put me on the fast track to a life of greater ease and flow. With less road kill. More organic veggies. And an abundance of all KINDS of good things.
And cultivates in me an expanded trust in what I can't see or touch or taste. Encouraging me to remember that on some very deep level I know there is an ineffable intelligence surrounding me that is filled with an endless stream of generosity and grace.