Knowing The Difference Between Purpose and Pleasure

Humans seek pleasure, it’s a fact of life.

How we go about it though, can sometimes be messy and often takes us out of their integrity and deeper knowing.

I always find it sad when I see people (myself very much included) fall into the trap of seeking physical pleasure or stimulation as an outlet or source of connection. Sometimes this is actually what we need at that moment, but all too often it is a poor substitute to the deep experience that presence and authentic connection can bring.

It can be hard to tell the difference though isn’t?

How do we know if our more primal desires are leading us or if we are being called to action by our hearts and higher wisdom?

Something I share with my clients is the idea of checking our inner council when we are faced with crucial decisions. Whether it’s to invest in a company, deciding to fly to visit family, or going home with a stranger, I find it’s important to give more than just one aspect of ourselves a voice.

I call this, “Asking Our Inner Council” and the process is quite simple, but takes practice for it become a true asset in our lives.

Whenever you face a decision that seems unclear, allow the question of what to do to run through the five voices of your body: gut, mind, heart, groin, and spirit (which resides at the very top of the head).

As you do so, notice what happens in those areas. Is there relaxation, contraction, expansion, warmth, cold, or perhaps even nothing at all?

For example, let’s say I was unsure if I should leave for a trip this weekend or wait until the following month. I would give myself a moment of calm breathing, and as I bring the question into my awareness, I feel into the different aspects of my inner council. Perhaps my mind is a yes, yet I notice that my gut feels tight, my heart feels a bit closed, and my groin and spirit seem silent.

An essential key to this tool is to not attach yourself to the response of a particular council member. The practice here is merely to listen impartially and take note of all your inner voices.

Sometimes there may not be an answer from a particular council member. That’s ok as it often means they are neutral and can be a sign to listen even more closely to the voices that are speaking.

That said, these days in the chaotic swirl of modern life, while I find it is not always practical to require a hell yes from five out of five before I decide on something, at the very least my heart needs to have a quality of opening and my gut needs to feel safe and secure for me to even consider doing something that I may not have a full clarity on.

This may seem like a lot of work to do every time we make a decision, but it is the essence of Heart-lead Leadership.

Two things I believe deeply in are that the amount of awareness or consciousness we bring to our life, the more vivid and rich it becomes. The other is that all life is a dojo and we are always given opportunities to practice.

When it comes to this systems check, the invitation is to practice it when the stakes aren’t that high. Try it when deciding where to have dinner, if you should go to that party that you’re not committed to, or perhaps where to go for a weekend getaway.

Then, as with all things diligently practiced, the speed and quality of communication in which you’ll be able to receive wisdom from your council will increase and when it really matters, it will make all the practice worth it.

I’d invite you to make this process a part of how you make decisions for a week, or even a month.

Keep a journal in your pocket or phone and take note as to what happens when you listen to your guidance. Or see what happens when you let one of the voices have more of a say than the others.

As part of the learning process, and only when the sakes are low, such as whether to do the dishes or hold off one more day, see what happens and how it feels when you don’t follow the guidance of your inner wisdom (or nose).

Having used this tool for several years I feel I’ve reached a point where I’m making better decisions, especially when it comes to when I’m seeking pleasure or connection. At times I’ve even questioned why I’m seemingly not as turned on by everything as I used to be and have judged myself for not being as willing to extend myself for the sake of finding more partners. Heaven forbid I may even be getting old!

I’m clearly seeing how momentary pleasures don’t serve me, and instead I harness my vital creative energies into more meaningful pursuits.

It seems the more clarity we have about what is important to us, what are our priorities, and what we’re not willing to compromise, the more we find ourselves aligned and resonate with what life, and our inner wisdom, is asking us to do.

From this place of grounded knowing, we become beacons for those who are called to our light, rather than flashes in the dark.

Mind, Heart, Gut, Groin, and Spirit.

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