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We are inundated daily with multiple messages about who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to do. The messages can overlap and contradict, but mostly it’s the sheer VOLUME of them that can really become overwhelming and confusing. In this time of profound change, it’s vitally important that we be able to sort and sift through these messages and to identify those that are true messages for us and those that we need to discard. We need to separate the wheat from the chaff.

The first step is to bring awareness to all the messages we are receiving unconsciously. We receive feedback constantly from our society, culture, and tribe. These messages are often programming us to conform. When we’re operating at a “tribal” level, we unconsciously believe our survival depends on our tribe, and uniformity within that tribe. This cohesiveness ensures the tribe is working together towards a common goal in mutual interest of all members. This is the inherent nature whenever there are groups of people, and happens even in enlightened, or otherwise spiritual groups. Television, movies, advertising, social media, and more all attempt to sway us to think and act in defined, narrow ways that ensure group/social/cultural cohesion. This approach is predicated on fear, as those that are central in the group attempt to influence the outliers, threatening with ostracization if they refuse to get in line. For the outliers, it takes one becoming aware of this sometimes almost imperceptible influence, and then trusting that the individual can, indeed, survive, even thrive, outside of the group. The individual must learn that all this unconscious influence has likely created “perception filters” that practically block all decisions before they actually reach our consciousness. You know these exist when you find yourself making snap judgements*, particularly when they are definitive (such as either/or – right/wrong). These snap judgements are often predicated on assumptions and pre-formed opinions and do not allow space for additional facts or individual circumstances to be taken into account. The easiest example is any social issue in which there are TWO dominant sides. Whenever you consider yourself to be on the “right” side and anyone who disagrees with you on the “wrong” side, be aware that you have these filters strongly in place.

(*A note: sometimes rash decisions are actually a survival mechanism in times of impending danger. If you get a spontaneous read on a person that feels uncomfortable or dangerous, I encourage you to immediately act upon it and remove yourself. Once safely away, you can determine whether the threat was real or not. Discernment works in multiple ways, one of the most crucial of which is getting us away from danger.)

As we watch the process in which the soul becomes thought or speech, we notice that many a time we ease ourselves into convenient clichés that have little of the new insight in them. Once more we are trapped by habits that are the dunghills upon which the creeds feed. It takes vigilance and humble courage to make acts of faith. After all, where faith is weak, there is an abundance of beliefs. With this in mind we may be more humble about our tradition and our sureness, yet also a bit more proud of the holy process in our inner being that keeps teaching and guiding us.

~ Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

These filters often exist in layers, and commonly, one mistakenly believes they’ve all been removed when in fact, only the most superficial have been identified. The trickiest circumstance is when one has already opted out of one or a few group thought forms (usually parentally introduced or influenced), thinking ALL filters now dissolved. This is actually when we are MOST susceptible to programming, because we believe ourselves to be free and independent thinkers when in fact we’ve usually just identified with a new group. Conscious decision making is a life-long process that requires pause, evaluation, and usually involves some degree of “gray area,” i.e. recognition that few things are conclusive and definitive. This process is known as discernment. We can be part of groups, and in fact, our psychology has a strong need for this type of belonging and connection. But when we choose a group (used here to broadly identify mental, emotional, and psychological collectives based on thought forms, not just physical groups), we must still commit to constant examination of facts, circumstances, etc., and be first and foremost loyal to our own internal guidance system.

Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

~ Alan Keightley

Once we learn discernment, then we are in a position to really bring in authentic, powerful spiritual guidance. It’s not that we haven’t been receiving this all along, but these messages are by nature subtle and often get blocked by perception filters. Where things get tricky is when we still have some filters still in place, but guidance is trying to get through. How do we discern which is which?

So let’s talk about guidance and what constitutes AUTHENTIC guidance. Spiritual guidance comes to us directly via two sources; 1.) our own soul/spirit, and 2.) our spiritual “team.” Our team is comprised of the two main guides we chose before we incarnated. These two guides are with us the entirety of our lives. Often, we will have one that will present as more strongly feminine and the other as more strongly masculine; these presentations help us balance our own masculine/feminine aspects. Additionally, one often presents as celestial in origin, the other more “earthly.” These forms help us come to terms with our celestial origins while being incarnated in a physical form. (Note: I say “appear” and “present” because it can be challenging to know definitively if these forms are indeed absolute, or rather that which has been deemed to be most conducive to helping us. Additionally, know that distinctions are fluid; what you deem celestial or earthly can be different for you than for another.) In addition to these two main guides, you can have a plethora of other helping spirits. These can include angels and other celestial beings, God/desses, spirit animals/plants, Ascended Masters, ancestors, and more. These other guides may be permanent (through this lifetime), long-term, or temporary. Aside from our two main guides, it is common that once we integrate what a particular guide has to teach us, they may leave and another comes in. Thus our team shifts often according to what we most need at any given time.

Do not assume that divine guidance flows only when you are in need of help. Guidance continues to flow whether or not you have problems. It transcends problems, heartbreaks, and traumas, flowing through dreams and illuminations. Whether guidance comes during times of tranquility or trauma, however, it is up to you to have the courage to acknowledge it.

~ Caroline Myss

ONLY advice from these sources – our own spirit and our divine team of guides – can be considered authentic and true. The caveat, however, is that it takes a great deal of self-belief, trust, and calm in order to hear this guidance clearly. Any fear, doubt, etc., drowns it out rather effectively. Our guides are understanding of this, however, and will often repeat messages via many different avenues and sources, much of it non-verbal. This means that we must commit to remain open during our times of trial. We might get repeat visitations from specific animals, see particular number combinations, have vivid dreams, or have certain word phrases practically jump out at us. For me, I find that certain messages come through prominently when reading or listening to podcasts. All of a sudden, it’s as if the volume (or font) gets turned up to max, while the everything else (ambient noise and other inputs) dials down to zero. Although my rational mind understands this is impossible, I have the sense that the person is speaking directly to me. These are the avenues through which our own divine self and our team of guides speak to us.

So we see, our guides DO, on occasion, use other people to deliver messages to us. However, these are the times we need to be most discerning regarding the divine and authentic nature of this guidance. In my experience, our guides will use almost anyone to deliver a message, and most certainly do not limit themselves to someone we might deem to be a “spiritual authority.” There will often be a different quality to these statements; they will stand out in some way to us, emphasized above and outside of the surrounding “noise.” Even so, you must always pass any statement through your own internal discernment to determine its authenticity. This is why it is vitally important to develop, refine, and utilize our discernment skills continuously throughout our lives. Remember that people frequently have filters in place that they are unaware of, and this can influence the message, particular when the message is being delivered “deliberately.” Gurus and spiritual advisors are not exempt from having these filters and thus care must be taken no matter how enlightened the person appears or claims to be.

You push the TRUTH off a cliff, but it will always fly. You can submerge the TRUTH under water, but it will not drown. You can place the TRUTH in the fire, but it will survive. You can bury the TRUTH beneath the ground, but it will arise. TRUTH always prevails!

~ Amaka Imani Nkosazana

Implementation of spiritual guidance is not a task that is without courage. We must be willing to be our own authority, and we must trust that our guidance, while not always easy, is always in our highest, ultimate good. This is a difficult, often uncomfortable position to stand in, but it is critical if we are to grow into our greatest potential and purpose. It’s an ongoing process that allows for mistakes, but always requires that we recognize our inherent strength and honor our own inner truth even in the face of overwhelming outside influence. True guidance is ALWAYS delivered internally, first and foremost.

At every step, she paused, withdrew to the inner sanctuary, and asked herself, Does this feel right? Her answer came in the form of peace or tension. If she felt tension, she stepped a different way. If she felt peace, she kept going forward.

~ Donna Goddard