Inner Guide

Using the Inner Guide in Therapy

One of the premises of Brief Therapy is that clients (mostly) possess their own answers to life’s problems. These answers may be hidden away in forgotten memories, unnoticed experiences or in failures of the imagination. The therapist’s job is to turn around the client’s attention from problems to possibilities and solutions. All this can be done through solution-focused questions, artful suggestions and through a variety of imaginative techniques. The focus is always on helping the client become self-healing.

In this article I want to outline another way in which people can become their own therapist. It is a path explored in spiritual practices more often than it is in formal psychotherapy. Yet in some ways it is the most profound self-healing device of them all. And all that is required is to go inside and consult your inner wisdom.

What is your Inner Guide?

Right from childhood every human being is equipped with an Inner Guide that speaks to them through intuitions, instincts, emotions and gut-feelings. Emotions like fear, sadness and anger, for example, are truly miraculous in the way that Bodymind delivers its sub-conscious verdict on troublesome situations and people. Choreographing a subtle array of subtle feelings and sensory changes to communicate with us. Knowing how to tune into these communications is key to emotional intelligence, as we now call it.

Your Inner Guide is even more sophisticated in its operation than Bodymind. It is like your deeper self, always watching and listening and always ready to advise you the moment you turn inwards and ask. In spiritual traditions the inner guide goes under a variety of descriptions: The Higher Self, for example. Or your Inner Wisdom, The Soul, The Tao or the In-dwelling Spirit.

If you are familiar with spiritual traditions that teach how to connect to your Inner Guide then I advise you to deepen your practice. If you are not then this article shows you how from a secular point of view. The only principle you are asked to accept is that the creative intelligence of the universe flows through you, and dwells in you.

What the Inner Guide feels like

One thing to get clear about is that the Inner Guide isn’t your everyday mind, and you won’t access it by thinking about it. Nor does it communicate to you through words and ideas. Your inner guide is subtle, intuitive and sounds more like a gentle whisper or a flow of movement. It prompts thoughts (good thoughts) in you but does not create them. When you attune to it you will feel connected to the intelligence that flows through you, and you will feel at peace.

What you will not feel is confused, troubled, anxious or stuck. If you are experiencing any of those moods then you are in Ego-Mind rather than your Inner Guide. In which thoughts swirl around, jumping from one to another without leading to any conclusion.

The reason for that is that the Ego is based on insecurity and control, and worries about what might happen next. Using anxiety to push you to try harder at making the bad thing go away. The Inner Guide, by contrast, will sometimes counsel you to do nothing and wait. Or it might prompt you to practice acceptance and self-compassion. The golden rule is that while Ego-Mind talks at you, your Inner Guide talks to you.

Mindfulness and the Inner Guide

Because the past and the future have no reality outside your thoughts the Inner Guide knows nothing of either. Like a child it lives entirely in present moment awareness. This being so it will only advise you about the options available to you right now. Thus, if you were to ask it how to get rich it would have nothing to say to you aside from encouraging you to focus on the task you can accomplish today. Likewise, if you were to ask how you can get over something that happened to you years before, it might point to an activity (walking in Nature perhaps) that soothes your spirit.

For all these reasons mindfulness practice is essential to consulting the Inner Guide. It is vital that you develop the art of present moment awareness, fully awake to what is going on out there, while also sensitive to what is going on inside. When you ask a question of the Inner Guide the first thing you might notice is a swirl of thoughts, as your ego-Mind tries to answer the question instead.

If this happens, mindfully see those thoughts as thoughts, not fusing with them but letting them settle down and fade in to the background. What you are seeking at a deeper level is a feeling (or a gentle movement) that lets you know you are contact with your personal guide. Patience is required here, and if you are new to this way of working, practice. See below for an exercise in reaching out to your guide.

Experiences with the Inner Guide: some examples

As a general rule when you are on the right path the way ahead will seem easy: doors open, opportunities present themselves, people are there to help, circumstances flow in your favour, ‘coincidences’ happen that you weren’t expecting, activities go smoothly. When you are on the wrong path everything seems like hard work: obstacles keep coming up, people go missing, opportunities turn out to be illusions, and things are not in harmony.

Your Inner Guide is in tune with your life path and will advise you accordingly, whether to press ahead or step back.

Here are some everyday examples:

  • Making good decisions, prompted by an intuition or a feeling on the right decision to make.
  • Meeting someone for the first time, and ‘clicking’ with that person.
  • Going to a job interview, and just ‘knowing’ that it was right for you.
  • States of flow when playing sport, working well, or doing something creative.
  • States of joy when you are in harmony with family and friends.
  • A deep sense of connection while out in Nature, or with your pet.
  • Being guided towards some comforting activity when you are in a state of suffering.
  • A warning voice or feeling that comes on when you are about to make a bad choice.

A guided exercise

There are countless ways to connect to your Inner guide that have been documented over the centuries, and each of us have our own path. The exercise below is one way to practice.

Start with the premise that you are connected with the Source and that it flows through you like a life force. Your Inner Guide is an expression of this. Consulting with the Inner Guide is like plugging into something much bigger than you.

Steps to take:

  1. First select an experience you have had before, in which you were connected to your inner wisdom, using the above list as examples.
  2. Next enter into a mindful state. You can try one of my free podcasts if you need assistance with this.
  3. Now go ‘into’ your body as you recall the experience. If thoughts distract you, let them fade in the background as you continue your search.
  4. Be aware of the feeling state you were in during that experience. Most people locate these feelings in the chest area, or anywhere on a line from your navel to your throat.
  5. Sense how that state appears to you. You may experience it as a subtle emotion, a whisper, a gentle movement, a state of flow. Some may hear a voice, others a hum. You will recognise the guide through an accompanying feeling of deep peace. Rather like coming home, or entering into a safe space.
  6. Now bring up the issue on which you seek guidance into consciousness. Along with the question: ‘What shall I do about this?”
  7. At this point you may have a thought. If the thought is illuminating and helpful, go with it. If it is troubling let it go, return to the feeling state and wait. Some people get images; others get neither thoughts nor images, but the feeling just seems to speak to them. You will know you are on the right track when you experience acceptance, peace and relief.
  8. Bear in mind that the answer may be that there’s nothing for you to do right now. And that you should wait on events. Any good advice you do receive will always point to something you can do, or say, in the present moment (or, at least, the same day).

Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?

Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?

Lao Tzu


Image by JozefKlopacka



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