By Ron Pevny
The world has been turned upside down. I need not repeat the all-too-familiar litany of
environmental, social, political and pandemic upheavals assailing our sense of safety,
normalcy and well being, thrusting us collectively into the powerful dynamic of
transition. And, as we face these larger dynamics of breakdown of old structures and
attitudes, we experience the “ordinary” and “normal” upheavals and losses that are
inherent in personal lives and especially so in our elder chapters, and are thrust us into
our own personal life passages.
We all relish, and tend to become attached to, those times when our lives are feeling
stable, with no big changes happening internally and externally. We need such times to
rest, integrate, and savor life. However, when all seems stable it is easy to begin to live
on automatic. It is all too easy to: take our many blessings for granted; blind ourselves to
our kinship with other living beings; depend upon our known personal qualities and
abilities to guide us through each day; operate within inner and outer comfort zones and
avoid moving beyond them; not have a sense of urgency about being in touch with the
spiritual depths within ourself because we don’t feel the need.
And then, here comes change and there goes our sense of stability. We are thrust into
transition and a state of inner chaos. Those qualities and attitudes that we counted on to
make our lives good are seen to be inadequate in dealing with the changes in our
overturned lives. Because of this, we individually and collectively, have the opportunity
yet again to discover new, previously untapped inner resources to support us in creating a
renewed life, one more grounded than before in authenticity, awareness, compassion, and
relationship with our spiritual guidance.
We humans have long known that the most powerful times in life are usually times of
transition. These are the times we feel most truly alive — not comfortable, but ALIVE. It
is in such times that all the comfort zones mentioned above are dismantled and we are
energetically thrown into the state of unformed energy which is the necessary ground for
all new beginnings. In writing about transition, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi said,
“all beginnings come from situations that are without form, and void.”
And mythologist Michael Meade speaks of these dark seasons of life, those times of “dark gestation”
which are necessary for the energies of a new chapter to emerge to “revitalize life again.”
It is when we are thrust into this void that our inner comfort zones are cracked open and
we have the strongest, clearest access to the intuition, creativity, deep inner guidance—
and energy to channel that guidance into new beginnings. Thrusting people at significant
life turning points into this void was the role of traditional rites of passage and the intense
preparation that accompanied them. In todays’ world, without such rites of passage, we
are nevertheless individually and collectively thrust into the void. Yet we still have the
opportunity to access the guidance and energy needed for the new beginnings that can
renew our lives, deepen our growth, and help transform our world.
The inner work of Conscious Eldering/Conscious Aging/Sage-ing is invaluable in helping
us open to the guidance of Soul, Spirit (however we name it). But, how do we recognize
guidance, and distinguish it from the many other voices within which clamor for
attention, especially in the chaos of transition? Here are some realities about guidance it
is helpful to be aware of when our comfort zone is being broken open:
- Our dream lives tend to awaken, and we may be aware of much more dreaming;
for some people, strong guidance comes through dreams and learning to work
with our dreams can be invaluable.
- Synchronicities are more likely to happen and we tend to be more attuned to their
presence and messages; in that space of “dark gestation” synchronistic events can
have a profound impact upon us. It has been said that synchronicity is God’s way
of answering our prayers.
- Our emotions become stronger and we have less “control” over them; guidance is
often imbedded in strong emotion.
- We have flashes of an uplifting sense of possibility that, at least momentarily, part
the clouds of our confusion and gives us a glimpse of a positive future.
Flashes of true guidance and strong emotions are usually mixed with messages
from ego calling us back to the past or urging us to try to push our way into a new
chapter to try to create a new beginning in which we don’t have to change – a
beginning that likely is just another reflection of who we have been in the past.
I know of no prescription for infallibly knowing what is indeed guidance from our
spiritual essence versus information from personality levels of ourselves, such as our
emotions and our thinking minds. For me, distinguishing my inner guidance from the
other voices in me has been, and continues to be, a challenging work in progress. In my
current understanding and experience, these are key questions to ask ourselves in making
- Is what I feel guided to do grounded in trust (not blind trust but informed trust) or
in fear? I believe that true guidance is not fear driven, although it may alert us to
situations to avoid.
- Does what seems to be guidance bring out the best in me, or something less than
my best? True guidance brings out the best.
- Does what feels like guidance open my heart or close it? Does it increase my
compassion or diminish it? True guidance opens hearts.
- When I have had experiences that in retrospect I have seen to be guidance, what
has that felt like in my body? In my emotions? By exploring this, we gain
understanding of how our bodies and minds know what is genuine and what is
- When I have followed what seemed to me to be guidance, how has it turned out?
Has some good arisen in my life? This doesn’t mean that it necessarily turned out
just like I thought it would when I followed whatever voice it was within me, but
rather that I can now see how following this voice resulted in something positive.
I believe that in these times of upheaval, Soul/Spirit is calling each of us to shine our light
in the darkness, illuminating a path forward for ourselves and the human family. This call
is our guidance. Our well being depends upon listening for it, and responding, with trust
that bigger energies are at work than are obvious in times of crisis.