Awake in the World

No one knows what’s better for you than you do. So why do we seek outside for help? Sometimes those around us can reflect back what our hearts are whispering. Friends and family can put into words things that we know intuitively about a direction to take or something we need to act on. But on the spiritual path many people feel drawn to seek out a guru. The word, “guru” comes from Sanskrit and simply means “teacher.”

Teachers come in many forms. They can come to us through sacred texts, spiritual writings, and inspired words from those we admire. Sometimes teachers are in unexpected places like a cashier at a check out counter who teaches us patience. On the spiritual path some people feel called to seek out a teacher at an ashram, a church or another place of worship. These can be good places to start to go deeper until the inner voice becomes stronger, more conscious and direct.

I love the Sanskrit word, “sadguru” or “sathguru.” This means literally “inner teacher” or “true teacher.” This concept bowled me over. In Hindu teachings as I understood them in travels to India, the sadguru or the true teacher is the one that is inside my very own heart. It whispers guidance and instruction to me through a still, small voice. This is not the loud chattering of the mind. It’s quiet and requires me to be still and listen for it. When I do this and act on this deep guidance from within, I find my way.

There are three steps to developing this inner listening:

1)    Commit to listening to your inner teacher. When the decision is made there will be no lack of communication.

2)    Create a regular space and time for listening. By fixing a set time and place, it’s the same as saying to your inner teacher, “I’m showing up. Help me find my way.” The reflections and experiences in this quiet place are subtle. Keep up the practice and you’ll be surprised at what learning occurs.

3)    Act on your inner guidance. If you feel strongly that it’s time to move to a end a relationship, move to a new place or look for a new job, then trust your inner guidance and go. If you’re not quite sure, write your question on a piece of paper and place it on your altar. Contemplate your question during the silent sitting practice. Make a decision. Sleep on it. See if you feel the same the next day.

Listening to the inner teacher requires practice. But it will be well worth the effort.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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