Last Friday, July 12th, James Arthur Ray was released from prison. Ray, you may remember, is the self-help author and motivational speaker who was convicted of negligent homicide after three people died in a sweat lodge ceremony he conducted in Sedona in 2009. In addition to the three people who lost their lives, eighteen other people became seriously ill during this tragic incident.
Usually, a sweat lodge ceremony is reasonably safe, because the person in charge of this sacred ritual continually monitors the well-being of the participants, and allows anyone to leave the lodge if they are experiencing severe, physical discomfort. Although Ray did not physically restrain anyone from leaving his ceremony, one survivor of the ordeal claims that those who did attempt to leave—or complained about their distress—were strongly encouraged to “push through it.” In other words, they were encouraged to endure their discomfort, to persevere, and to literally “sweat it out.”
Whether you personally believe this man was guilty of an actual crime or not, there is little doubt that the kind of mind-set he was exhibiting, combined with his influence as a trusted spiritual leader, had—in this instance—a disastrous result. And what does any of this have to do with living life in the divine flow? It points to the importance of practicing discernment whenever someone encourages you to “push through” a problem.
Although the accomplishment of a goal or the realization of a dream may require a great deal of patience on your part, the divine flow will never ask you to “push through” anything—that is, “force” your way forward. Nor, usually, will it require you to endure extreme conditions of any kind. Generally speaking, the path of the flow is always one of grace and ease. Instead of being directed to force your way through an obstacle, you will be guided to go around that obstacle, or—through the power of divine love—that obstacle might dissolve right before your very eyes.
That’s not to say that being in the divine flow always feels completely comfortable. There may be times when the divine flow will purposely invite you to step out of your personal comfort zone. But if you look closely at what your personal comfort zone is, you will see that is usually a “box” that was artificially created by your own personal history and conditioning . . . and it feels good to finally move beyond that limited—and limiting—space.
It appears, though, that Ray was doing far more than asking people to move beyond their personal comfort zone. He was inviting them to tolerate extreme discomfort, and encouraging them to ignore what their bodies were trying to tell them. There are physical limits to what the body can endure, and to what the body can do. And even though professional athletes are continually stretching those boundaries, those expansions happen very gradually, and in very tiny increments.
Friends, there are going to be plenty of times in life when you will run into a formidable obstacle that seems to be blocking you from reaching your desired destination. And there will probably be well-meaning people around you who will encourage you to “push through it.” But please remember, no matter what anyone encourages you to do, and no matter how much you respect his or her advice or opinions, it is up to you to decide what is best for you.
Never forget that your most valuable, reliable, and consistent source of guidance is always your own intuition. Even if someone makes a suggestion that sounds like it is “in the flow” and not at all forceful, it is still up to you to access your inner sense of “knowing” to decide whether that advice is right for you or not.
Regardless of what people say, or what the signs and synchronicities seem to indicate, it is always important to practice divine discernment—to get quiet, go within, and get in touch with that subtle, inner sense that helps you distinguish between “yes, this feels right for me,” or “no, this doesn’t feel like it is in my best interest.” As Rev. Suzanne Bishop of Payson, Arizona wrote to me: “I have learned the importance of taking personal responsibility for my own well-being—to not allow anyone to override my internal guidance, and to resist the efforts of someone else to push me beyond what I intuit is good or safe for me at the time.”
I hope you understand that I am not asking you to always ignore the suggestions of others. In fact—in addition to divine signs and synchronicities—one of the primary ways that you receive divine guidance in life is through other people. For the most part, though, that information should just be used to confirm what your own heart is telling you. In the end, every decision that you make, and every action that you take, should be based on the wisdom that lies within—on the wisdom of your very own inner Spirit.
© 2013 by Steven Lane Taylor
Steven Lane Taylor, LLC