The Gift of the Body Compass

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The setting: A group of close girlfriends around my dining room table, soft pink hydrangeas and candlelight between us. It is the end of a Monday night, a busy next day looming in everyone’s mind. A few glasses of wine in, the conversation starts to get deep, as usual.

One of these women is a brilliant, award-winning actress and director with a career that spans several decades. She said the following about her decision to change the vector of her career: “All I can tell you is this: when I walk into the elevator after I’ve been acting I feel 10 years older. After directing, I feel 10 years younger.” Yaaaassss, I thought.

Sounds pretty simple, right? She’s tuning into how she feels, not what her head tells her; not what the monkey mind dredges up; not fears of ending up a bag lady or about what anyone else might think; no shoulds or shouldn’ts.

This girl is listening to her gut. She’s tuning in—deep down in the body. This way of decision making will give you the truth—every time. In the Martha Beck life coaching world we call this the body compass. For example, close your eyes and imagine your current job/work. Take a few breaths and really go there. Do you feel all balled up inside, or free and light about the future?

Another example of listening—say you get into an elevator with a stranger and a strong feeling washes over you that this person is dangerous. There is validity in that feeling. There is wisdom.

I have never been steered wrong listening to my body compass. Not once. But it took me over 40 years, a meditation practice and life coach training to become attuned to that inner wisdom. The previous 40 years were chock of wrong turns. I was pretty much reacting to what life threw at me. And I didn’t have a clue who I was.

Now, I sit with decisions. Someone asks something of me, I imagine myself in the situation, and the answer comes pretty quickly. If I’m feeling shackled up at the thought, then the thing is assuredly not for me. And the powerful answer of “No, thank you” tastes of freedom.

If these words resonate, I might just be the life coach for you. You can reach me at susanswaits@gmail.com