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John Geary: passionate - but professional
For Shakti Gawain, the journey never ends
(Originally published in the June/July 2001 issue of Synchronicity Magazine)
By John Geary
Spiritual teacher and author Shakti Gawain began her current journey more than 20 years ago, and she has no plans to put an end to this particular path just yet.
The writer of nine best-selling books, including Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, Return to the Garden,The Four Levels of Healingand most recently, Developing Intuition, says she will probably never retire completely, at least not in the conventional sense.
"I do think about that," she says. "There is a part of me that has said, 'Hey let's retire.' So far, I don't want to stop what I do completely, although I am changing some things, letting go of certain things. I'm doing much less and opening to new ways of being."
Her latest book, Developing Intuition, is a step toward creating a reality out of that desire to let go, as it is her first new book in three years. It follows her previous book, Creating True Prosperity, published in 1997.
The subject of her latest book was the focus of an April workshop she conducted in Calgary.
Part of the workshop involved defining intuition: what it is, how it works and what it can do for people who choose to develop and use it in their daily lives. One of the key aspects she stresses about intuition is the fact that it is not a strange metaphysical concept that only a few individuals can access.
"To me, intuition is a faculty we are all born with. It's meant to be a natural guiding force in our lives, in a very practical, moment-to-moment, day-to-day kind of way."
Our culture largely ignores intuition, not giving its due as do other more ancient cultures, like, for example, North America's indigenous peoples.
"Most of us are taught, at a very young age, not to trust ourselves in that deep way. We don't get the message, 'Deep down inside, you know what's true and right for you, and you should pay attention to it.' We're taught to look to some outside authority for the answer."
That type of upbringing, common in Western culture, interferes with the development of intuition, teaching us to rely solely on logic and intellect. That creates an imbalance. Learning to work with intuition helps restore a natural balance. Shakti is quick to point out that logic - like intuition - has its place, and that using either one to the exclusion of the other is not the answer.
"Logic is great, it's like a wonderful computer that we have," says the author/teacher. "But it can't give us what intuition does.
"Intuition and logic used together are a great balance."
An upbringing that discourages intuition is one element that can block a person's intuitive abilities. Another barrier is the exclusive identification with intellectual, logical, rational role models. That often goes hand-in-hand with a Western upbringing.
A third factor that can block intuition is the presence of unhealed or repressed emotions.
"Most of us have some emotions held back or stuck inside, and if there is a lot of that going on inside, it can interfere with a connection to intuition. The blocked emotional energy keeps us from getting deeper into the interior."
While many of us have lost touch with our intuitive abilities for various reasons, she says with a little work - and if necessary, some emotional healing - people can reconnect with their intuition.
Intuition can be much more than a tool to help individuals make day-to-day decisions about their lives. Shakti believes it is one of the important factors in the continuing evolution of humanity.
"Each of us individually is evolving, humanity as a whole is evolving, our collective consciousness is evolving. What I envision as this evolutionary process is more development and integration of all aspects of who we are, and intuition is definitely one of the important aspects of who we are."
It is important to point out that Shakti does not view intuition as a magic pill that will solve all our dilemmas and by itself create a Utopian future for humanity, though. It is simply one part of the larger process of growth.
"I really imagine greater development, integration and wholeness for each of us and for humanity collectively, as well," she says.
Learning to use intuition on a regular day-to-day basis does not mean life's roller coaster ride will be any smoother, either. Following intuition is not always easy.
"Following it may mean we rock the boat a little more than we or a loved one is comfortable with," the teacher says. "But I deeply believe that when we follow our true intuitive sense, it never is hurtful to someone; what happens is for the highest good of all concerned.
"To me, intuition is our soul letting us know where we need to go next, and it's always about our own greater development."
Helping people achieve their own greater development is a source of energy that feeds Shakti, keeping her on her current path.
"I love this work. I feel that it is a blessing that I have been given this opportunity to not only learn and grow myself, but to share with other people in a way that I know has helped them."
Like any other path, it is not without its challenges, challenges that sometimes come from unexpected places. Like many of us whose work is often our passion, Shakti battles constantly to keep her work from taking over her life. There have been times when she felt her life was out of balance; even though her work was proceeding splendidly, her personal life was not.
One of her biggest challenges involved her desire for a life-long partnership.
"I was getting close to 40, I really wanted a good, committed relationship, but nothing seemed to be working. Everything else was falling into place for me, but I was struggling with this one issue."
She eventually connected with Hal and Sidra Stone, who became mentors to the author. They guided her through some deep emotional healing and helped her discover a part of her did not want a relationship. Her healing process included using a technique called voice dialogue.
Drawing on the work of Carl Jung, this process teaches people to consciously connect with all the different selves or "shadow selves" contained within them that they have denied or repressed. The people who keep them "hidden in the shadows" often view these selves as negative but they are really just the opposites of characteristics deemed important or positive by the person repressing them. By connecting with these selves, people gain greater understanding about the unconscious issues that affect them. With that understanding comes healing, as it did with Shakti and her relationship issues.
"I discovered all kinds of things were going on inside of me, things I was pretty unconscious of. I was convinced I wanted a relationship because of how I felt consciously," she says. "But I discovered that unconsciously I had other parts of me that were afraid of it, parts that did not want to make a commitment. They were blocking it from happening and I didn't even know that.
"The voice dialogue technique helped me become much more aware of all the things that were going on inside of me, including my ambivalence about relationships. Only then I was able to heal my own conflicts and make myself ready to receive a relationship."
Three weeks later, she met the man she eventually married. They had met two years before that, but it was not the right time for either of them to become involved in a relationship with each other. The second time proved to be the charm. They are still married 10 years later.
She says that example from her own life illustrates a reality that holds true for everyone: we all have our own challenges.
"The places where we have the biggest struggle are the places where we need the deepest healing, but it's also where we can go the deepest. It's often where we have the most to contribute, as well."
Looking ahead to the future, Shakti says that although she is working toward taking more personal time for herself by reducing her writing and travelling schedules, she does not expect to encounter any difficulty in finding more topics to write about or more skills to teach to people.
"My sense is I'll probably always work with people in some way, shape or form."
In other words, the journey will continue for her and for everyone else who she touches.
"We have an infinite amount to learn and develop within ourselves and much to contribute to the world. There is no end to this journey - it's a life-long practice in which we keep going deeper.
"There is no end in sight, no dearth of things that need to be done. Life just brings those challenges to us."
For more information about Shakti Gawain and her teachings, visit www.shaktigawain.com .