This past weekend I spent a day at Newport Beach. The weather was perfect—dry and sunny with a lovely breeze. I don’t get to the ocean very often, so this was a real treat. Most of my swimming is done in lakes and rivers these days. I love the water, including the ocean, but I’m not a particularly strong swimmer.
Tangent: In my spiritual belief system (I’m a Yoruba/lucumi priest), different divinities are said to be embodied in nature. Thus, Yemonja and Olokun are the spirits of the ocean.
Another tangent: Do you remember the E.F. Hutton television commercial with the fine English actor John Houseman? Essentially, it said “… when E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.” It showed a group of people at a party stopping their conversation to hear what E.F. Hutton had to say.
The tide at the beach was coming in; the waves were large but not humungous. The undertow was minimal. There was a lot of red seaweed coming in with the tide, but it was supposedly harmless.
I was in the water for maybe five minutes working my way past the breaking waves when I began to feel chilled and afraid. I tried to stay in and work through my fear but found that I could not. I left the water and did not return. It took me a long time to warm up.
Now there may be a very reasonable explanation for all of this, but I think of it as having received a warning from Yemonja and maybe Olokun. What popped into my mind was my Ita or life reading that all initiates into the Yoruba/lucumi faith receive on the third day of the initiation process. My Ita says I need to be careful at the beach; I shouldn’t dive into deep water and I should watch out for the rays of the sun. Once I made the decision to get out of the water and listen to this divine feedback, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my day.
This experience led me to think about how many times we receive spiritual information in the course of a day—quite often, I believe. How many times do we hear it? Not often enough, as distracted as we are by internal and external noise. What happens when we listen and follow the advice, suggestions, or warnings? We are safe and make wiser choices, or there are fewer negative consequences. And if we neither listen nor follow, what tends to happen? We get into or are subjected to trouble.
Some people may describe my experience at the beach as “intuition.” Coming from the Latin “intueri,” it means to contemplate or look inside. It is outside the realm of reason. I prefer to think of it more spiritually.
It’s not easy to be spiritually attuned. It takes practice. This includes letting go of the notion that WE know what’s best for us. However, it is a skill and mind-set that can be cultivated.
For starters, we can improve our attunement to divine guidance with belief in its existence. The concrete tools for learning to be open to divine guidance include focusing on the breath, meditation, quiet walking, and prayer. (No surprises there!) Improvement comes with dedication, time, and success. Meaning that when we listen and the outcome turns out well, we gradually learn to trust it more and more.
My experience at the beach confirmed for me that I need to pay better attention to the divine guidance that surrounds me. And like John Houseman and E.F. Hutton advise: listen.
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