A Conversation with Shakti Gawain
by Sydney L. Murray
Introduction by Sydney L. Murray
by Shakti Gawain was one of the first books I read years ago
in my early twenties. It's one of those books which I consider
an early introduction to my spirit. Speaking with her about
her latest book, Developing Intuition: Practical Guidance
for Daily Life, I was encouraged that someone whom I had
revered as a teacher continued to inspire and inform me.
SLM: What is intuition?
SG: Intuition is
an inner sense that we all have that tells us what we need
to know at any given moment.
SLM: How can you tell the difference between intuition and
my ego mind chatter?
SG: That is definitely one of the most
interesting questions and one that comes up often. But we
must not make judgments, but remember that we have many different
voices within us. Intuition has a certain energy, vibration,
or feeling about it and with a little bit of practice one
learns to recognize the feeling or the sense of your intuitive
voice and distinguish it from the other voices. It does take
a little practice. You've paid attention for awhile and you
practice following your intuition and see what happens. It
is not that you can always be absolutely sure but in general
you get to recognize it.
There is a whole
chapter in the book devoted to how we distinguish our intuitive
voice from the other voices. We do all have many voices within
us which you refer to as ego mind chatter, which is how a
lot of people think of it. The truth is that we have many
different voices within us and they are all valuable. Each
one has its own job to do and its own value. So I really honor
and value all the voices within me, but it is important to
be able to distinguish which voice is what. For example, we
often have a voice within us that tells us what we feel like
we should be doing. There is value in that because there are
certain things that we probably do need to handle. But sometimes
the should-voice can get too loud. We need to pay attention
to what feels true, what feels right, as opposed to what we
feel we should do. With some work you can begin to recognize
the many voices and really honor all of them.
SLM: What do you do on a daily basis to nurture yourself?
SG: I do several
different things. First of all, it is very important to me
to get a good night's sleep. I think that very often we try
to sleep too little, not resting and nurturing ourselves enough.
I try to do some good things for my body. I usually start
each morning with a little yoga (hatha yoga), a little bit
of meditation, even if it's only five minutes, and also walk
or swim, whatever I can do to connect to my body. Getting
out in nature is very important to me. But it is also really
about my relationship to the earth. My sense is that we are
all part of one consciousness, we are all connected to the
mass consciousness of humanity. We are in an evolutionary
process and learning as we go. But we are still pretty out
of balance in the way we are living on this earth. We are
consuming way more than we really need to be. We are polluting
and littering. To me, it's a reflection that as individuals
and as a culture we are out of balance. My feeling is that
we can never feel whole and fulfilled unless we're connected
to this earth that we live on: the natural world. You know
the indigenous cultures of the world are connected to the
earth and nature, but we've separated ourselves from it. I
feel that one of the fundamental reasons that we are suffering
in the modern world is because we are so disconnected from
nature. To me, being in nature is very renewing. And, of course,
I do other things, like being with people that I love and
am close to.
SLM: Where does your inspiration come from?
SG: Well it certainly
comes from somewhere within me. I would say that it is definitely
connected with my own intuitive voice, my own intuitive feeling.
When I pay attention to that and I follow that, then I'm inspired
to do the things that are true and right for me to do. My
feeling is that as we learn to truly follow our intuition,
we are basically getting in alignment with our soul's purpose.
It also helps us access our own creative talents and gifts:
the things that we have to offer and share in the world. The
more we are in alignment with our souls, the more we are fulfilling
our life purpose. Also, the more everyone can begin to tune
into themselves and become more conscious and more connected
to intuition, the more we are all connected with one another
in a harmonious way. For example, If I'm really doing what
is right and true for me and you're doing what is right and
true for you, there is a kind of synchronicity or harmony
that happens for each person that is kind of in the right
place at the right time.
SLM: I wonder if a complicated life and a cluttered mind get
in the way of developing our intuition?
SG: (hearty laugh)
We all have complicated lives, so welcome to the club. I guess
most of us also have cluttered minds, too. Welcome to the
club, this is the human experience. Life is complicated and
we have many, many challenges on many levels and we have to
work with that. Most of us tend to be very focused on the
mental realm and are overly developed in that area, which
can make it more difficult to relax into a quieter, deeper
place. But again, with some practice we can do that. People
can learn ways to relax their bodies and minds. Many people
have trouble just sitting and meditating because their minds
are so busy. What I advise is to do something physical like
walk, run, or put on some music and dance until you feel kind
of tired. That in itself can be a meditation. Walking, running,
dancing, or any other physical activity can often be a meditation
if you just let your mind go and focus on what you are doing.
Often times inspiration will come through or you'll start
to feel calmer. Or you could just move very vigorously until
you feel tired and sit down and relax and then the mind gets
SLM: Exactly, I've always thought that my bike rides up Mt.
Soledad (San Diego) and my runs on the beach are moving meditations.
I get these amazing inspirations and hits of information as
SG: The whole book
is filled with meditations and exercises. The basic one that
I use is to have people get in a comfortable position, breathe
slowly and deeply, relax the body and mind, and let their
awareness move into a deep, quiet place inside. Then in that
deep place, just assume that you have a connection to your
own inner wisdom and ask for whatever you want or need at
that point. For example, you can ask, 'What do I need to be
aware of right now?, Or 'What do I need to do about this problem?'
You can ask for direction or clarity, anything you want, you
can ask. Then just kind of sit quietly and watch what comes
to you as a thought, a feeling, an image, whatever. Be with
whatever comes to you after you ask the question. Several
things may happen when you do this. You may actually get a
feeling, a response, that feels like the right response to
your question. Or you may get something, but not quite understand
it, which is fine, just be with it for awhile. Or you may
feel like you don't get anything in the moment, but a day
or two later you may wake up with a certain insight or inspiration,
or a week after that you might walk into a bookstore and just
happen to pick up a book and open it and read a paragraph
that may be just the right thing you needed to hear right
SLM: We often hear about a "woman's intuition" ? Do you think
women are more intuitive than men?
SG: I think that
everybody is born intuitive and men are as intuitive as women
naturally. However, in our culture women have been more supported,
traditionally, to be in touch with their feelings, their emotional
and intuitive feelings. Women have had more support and permission
from our culture to look inside and be in touch with ourselves
and our feelings. So we are more likely to be intuitive, Men
have been taught, traditionally, to cut themselves off from
their inner feelings and just focus on the outside world.
However, lots of men are very intuitive. If you use the word
hunch or gut feeling, which are two words I like to use to
relate to intuition, then men can be described as intuitive,
because many men follow their hunches. Many very successful
men trust their gut feelings and act on them? It's the same
SLM: How has your understanding of the power of visualization
deepened since you wrote Creative Visualization?
SG: It has certainly
been confirmed many times in many different situations in
my own life. At the time I wrote Creative Visualization
I was consciously practicing it on a very regular basis. Every
morning I would take a few minutes to visualize or imagine
whatever my goal or goals at the time. I would often do that
again in the evening. I don't do that anymore as it now is
more a part of my consciousness. Every once in awhile I will
sit down and do an actual meditation/visualization about something.
It feels like now it is more integrated into my life. Creative
Visualization was my first book and after that I moved
to many other different things. Each of my books is a way
of sharing a particular piece of what I have learned.
SLM: What is your current focus?
SG: Well, this gets
into a whole other realm, but I would like to mention, as
I had mentioned earlier, that we have all these different
voices or selves within us ? that an important part of our
consciousness is to become aware of different parts of ourselves.
To actually learn to balance and develop all aspects of who
we are and our relationships give us an incredible reflection
or mirror of that process. Basically our main relationship
in life is with ourselves. All the other relationships are
mirrors and reflections that can help us become much more
conscious of our relationship with ourselves.
You are a prolific writer. How do you sustain your ability
to remain centered and focused over a long period of time?
SG: (laugh) I donıt
stay centered and focused over a long period. I get rattled
and hassled just like everybody else does. I think a lot of
it is actually accepting that fact and not having this idea
that somehow we ought to be perfectly centered. One of the
most important things for humans to understand is that we
have our limitations, our shortcomings and our flaws. Weıre
imperfect, but we are here on this incredible adventure of
learning and development. Have a compassionate attitude toward
ourselves. We do get thrown off by a lot of things, pushed
and pulled and stressed out when we try to do too much and
we canıt do it all. To me, in a certain way, staying centered
has to do with being willing to not be centered and to love
myself through it all.