Coach Yourself: The Body Compass

My life coach teacher, Martha Beck, calls it the body compass. My yoga teacher calls it inner wisdom, or vidya. And my therapist calls it intuition. 

To me it feels like a deep, deep wisdom that resides in my chest or between my eyes. When I rest my attention on it, it almost always has an answer for me. And I use it to guide me through everything from what to wear, who to date and how to act in a situation. 

Whatever YOU want to call it, there is a guiding light or a force within you, too. 

It is the voice that compels you.

It can see clearly whether you are experiencing attachment or aversion. Sometimes it might also notice feelings of neutrality. 

This seeing doesn’t come from your rational self (the thinking mind), but rather from a place deeper that doesn’t use thinking as a tool (observing mind). 

It’s a clear knowing how you feel and how you need to act, over the thinking through your options that is so much more common in our culture. 

Some call it discernment and others call it awareness. No matter what you call it, it can be a VERY powerful tool in helping you make life decisions, big and small. 

So let’s practice. 

Today, right now, in this very moment, I want to ask you: 

What is the area of least satisfaction in your career? 

Wherever you land in your answer to that question, be it “My boss doesn’t respect me,” “I don’t make enough money,” or “I don’t feel like my work matters,” another question probably begs for an answer — “Should I find a new job?”, “Do I ask for a raise?” or “Do I explore a new career?”

Use The Body Compass

Now is when you use your internal compass to point you in the right direction.

You can access it by resting your attention on your body. Yes, your body. Not your mind. 

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Feel your feet on the floor and the seat beneath you. 

Pause. Steady your breath. Still your mind. 

Now ask yourself the question that is calling for an answer. 

Should I ask for a raise? Should I quit my job? Should I explore a new career? 

Now see what your body has to say - not your mind - your body. 

Does your body feel positive or negative about your question? Does your body feel light and airy, or heavy and burdened? Does your body feel free, or does it feel imprisoned? 

Or maybe it feels completely neutral about your question? Does it scream, “yes?” Or does it whisper, “no?”

Use the information the body gives you to begin to chart a course towards your true north - the direction you ultimately want to head. 

But do have courage, because the information you get from your body via the body compass, might not be the easiest information to act on. In fact, it might be the path unknown, or the road less traveled. 

Trust, however, that if your body compass is calling out for you to act in one way or another, it is most likely the path to true north, the path to integration, and the path to peace and liberation from suffering. 

As the Buddha says, “ The sea always tastes of salt. And enlightenment always tastes of freedom.” 

Which way is your body compass pointing you? What answer feels like freedom? What answer feels like prison? 

When you’re looking for the sea, follow the salt. When you’re looking for escape from suffering, follow what feels like freedom. 

For more on this topic, I highly recommend Martha Beck’s, “Finding Your Own North Star.