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7 Steps to Seeing

July 20, 2009

When I posted a couple of weeks ago,  I had hoped to be more fully back online by now, but that got slowed down a bit when I dropped my Macbook in my kitchen, shattering the screen and toasting the circuit board. I just switched to a Mac 4 months ago, so this is not an auspicious beginning. Although, from the looks on the Apple tech’s faces when I brought it in for repair, this level of damage is not something they see very often. I thought I detected real fear in their faces while they surveyed it, like I might be a serial killer, or at the very least, a serial destroyer of sacred technology.

So I am sharing my old Gateway laptop with my husband, which he inherited when he gave me the Macbook for my birthday. We share many things well, including a one-sink bathroom (which derails other couples, I know), but a computer is another thing entirely.  I am sure many of you understand:-)

In addition to that little complication, last week was the week of the half-written blog posts. I started three, and couldn’t quite get any of them into a finished state I liked. In the end, I decided to write on seeing, which is something I have been contemplating recently. As I mentioned in my last post, I am trying to see many things about my own life and future direction right now.

I think of seeing as the ability to discern patterns and structures under the surface of events, our own minds, and the minds of others. All of these are connected, of course – ‘as above, so below’ and all that. Personally I think of intuition as a more ‘in the moment’, situational type of insight. If I’m talking to someone, and suddenly have the strong sense that he or she is feeling something other than what is said, that is intuition. If in that moment, or later on, I suddenly understand that emotion or interaction in the context of a larger pattern, a fuller understanding of what is motivating or moving the individual and the dynamics between us, that is seeing. Personally, I don’t try and do either with other people, unless our relationship is such that they ask me too. But the same skills applied to myself is a powerful part of my own approach to my life and spirituality.

I think based on our deepest intents for our lives, we can connect to different ‘flows’, in a tao-like fashion. Some phases of my life have been about manifestation, about intending new things into my life based on what I wanted at the time. Success in getting them was really about aligning myself with a certain flow of power. I think this is largely what teachings on the ever-popular ‘law of attraction’ are about, and to the extent that is true, I value those teachings. But for me personally they have limitations (one of those half-written blog posts that maybe I will finish someday – I did put some basic thoughts on this into Is the Law of Attraction Buddhist?, at BellaOnline.)

But there are other flows we can connect to, including the one leading ‘home’ to ourselves, enlightenment, liberation, realization, or whatever you want to call it. And that flow rarely seems to be about just pursuing what we want, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes life is about listening, rather than manifesting. That is what my own life feels like right now. I am listening, watching, trying to see what’s next. Trying to align myself with light, with ‘the tao’ (or again, whatever word you like.)

Someone recently asked me how I go about this, which got me thinking about it in a way I hadn’t in awhile, so I decided to post my answer, and ask you to share yours in the comments.

1) First, I clarify what I am trying to see. I think it’s really important to at least attempt to define what you are trying to see. Otherwise, it’s too easy to just flounder around in uncertainty indefinitely. Sometimes you can’t really define it, or sometimes it turns out there is more than one question in play, but the attempt to whittle it down gets the process started. For me, this is like sending an arrow from my conscious mind into the depths, and then letting it stew there, while I …

2) Wait. Patiently. Not a strength of mine personally, but a necessity, I have found. I have learned this one the hard way, by too often rushing an answer, and discovering later it was driven more by ego than seeing. I always think of the chess movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, where the teacher is always telling Bobby ‘wait, just wait, until you see it’, whenever it is his turn to move in a match. Sometimes, he waits for hours. So what do I do while I wait? Well, I…

3) Create Some Space in My Life. I think we all process differently. In Awakening Intuition, Dr. Mona Lisa Schulz emphasizes the importance of sleep, as I know many professional psychics do. For me, it seems to be more about a sense of space and openness than sleep. Maybe that’s because I don’t seem to be much of a dreamer, or receive many insights that way. Of course meditation is a big part of creating this space for me. But I also love to read. Sometimes when I am working on something, I will stay up late reading many nights in a row – something light and engaging (I read the entire Twilight series this way a few months back.) To do this, of course, I can’t be in a stressful, highly-scheduled phase of my life. Interestingly, I have found playing with my young children also creates this sense of space. They are so in the moment, and when I am present with them, it creates an easygoingness (excluding tantrums, that is!) So this summer has been perfect for us all, very open-ended, with just a few classes and playdates when we are together (which is not all the time – I also have a sitter some days, part of creating that much-needed space).

But I don’t always just wait, sometimes I like to…

4) Stalk. ‘Stalking’ and ‘dreaming’ are two opposing methods of seeing presented in the books of Carlos Castenada. Stalking, in the context I am using it, is seeking out relevant ‘data’ for the seeing part of my awareness to work with. This might mean consulting divination systems like astrology, the tarot, or (my personal favorite) the I Ching. Or it might mean seeking out details related to the specific decision I am contemplating (if it is a decision – seeing isn’t always about that, of course.) So if I were trying to decide whether or not to move, for example, or change jobs,  I would research and visit areas or people with other jobs. But I wouldn’t make my decision based on a logical, pros-and-cons assesment of what I find (I am honestly just incapable of that – it’s not the way I’m built) but instead just let the information sit, and simmer. Or I might use it to…

5) Dream. As I use it, this tool is perhaps the closest to ‘visioning’ that you find in many law of attraction and cosmic ordering teachings. Sometimes it’s useful to imagine different options, and see how they feel. Which one has the most power behind it? Which one has a flow? Which one do I fear? Which one do I desire and why? I don’t make my decision here, I just let it all sit. But at some point…

6) Something Like Insight Appears. I don’t know that any of us can clearly define what insight feels like, as opposed to just a normal ego-driven thought, but most people  I have talked to acknowledge that it does feel unique. It seems to come from a different location than our other thoughts, within or outside us. Figuring that out is a journey of a lifetime I think, for all but a few highly-gifted seers. For me, it’s rarely an epiphany moment. It’s  often a gradually emerging certainty. And when it emerges, I rarely just jump on it, even though that is what some teachers suggest. Instead, I write it down, clarifying exactly what it is I am thinking, and then I…

7) Question It. Call this the ‘quality assurance’ phase of the process (I DID work in software development for many years!) This is about separating the wheat from the chaff, or in this case, insight from ego. I try and discern what in my answer might be purely ego-driven  – what is just what I want to believe? What might I have added to the insight unconsciously, because of my own desires or fears? What old patterns or baggage might be in play? There is a careful balance to be struck in this phase – the wrong kind of questioning just generates useless doubt, while none at all results in too much wishful thinking. So this phase is a delicate swing, from certainty to questioning, honing and honing, driving closer to the truth.

So there you have it – my own process. Of course, sometimes insights just arise – there is no process. This is more when there is some sense of seeking involved. It is how I seek.

How do you seek or see? Do you have a process? How do you distinguish ego-driven thoughts from seeing? Are you a stalker or a dreamer?

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 10:54 pm

    Thank you for this. I’ve been working on developing my intuition more, and trying to notice how it fits into a much bigger pattern. it’s like I have caught glimpses of this pattern out of the corner of my eye, and I’m trying to focus on it more fully, to make some sort of sense out of my life and the direction I’m headed. I think that what you have written here will help with that!

  2. July 21, 2009 12:10 am

    The steps you offer can guide certain seekers. Every human being is on a path to reconnecting with what resonates from within. For some people, the process of opening and expanding senses seems straightforward and systematic. For others, awareness or conscious awakening are more sudden experiences or, less easily translated into words. Consider these examples;

    For Michael J. Tamura, a near death experience (NDE) was the trigger that created an incredible awakening. I offer an interview with him here:

    For Susan Shumsky, years of meditation in remote places contributed to her approaches to “seeing.” I offer an interview with her here:

  3. mommymystic permalink*
    July 21, 2009 4:06 am

    Jay – I hope it helps, this works for me anyway. But each person does have to find what works for them.

    Liara – Thanks for the links, I will check them out. I do agree that there are many kinds of seeing experiences, and they are often spontaneous. This particular process is more one I like for when I am sensing the need for some change, or a new opportunity, but can’t quite see what it is. It is like putting my nose to the wind to catch a new direction.

  4. July 21, 2009 6:05 am

    Oh boy did this post speak to me today! I am trying to clarify what I am seeing but it’s still not coming. I am still wandering a bit. So I am waiting. I am not sure what I am waiting for. But I know intuitively that I need to go through this process right now. I am not a patient person…or I should say was not in the past. I have been more patient than ever before and I feel good with this. In my latest post I spoke of a “mustering” inside. I still feel this…but I can’t really sort it all out. So I wait. We’ll see what becomes of this…

  5. July 21, 2009 3:07 pm

    Nice post. Clarity, patience and space are necessary for me too. I would add openess/connection for me. I never question it though! Arrogance or trust?

    Seriously though, I know if I’ve been connected. Just feel it. I only question when I’ve been thinking over things too much. But then, in that approach I’m not really seeing.

  6. mommymystic permalink*
    July 21, 2009 3:46 pm

    Caroline – I know, I read your post yesterday soon after writing this one, and have been struck by how many people are going through a phase similar to this. Clearly there is a larger pattern at work. I like your word ‘mustering’, that is just what it feels like. I think the clarity will break through soon…

    Mon – I know, that last ‘question’ step is the one I know many intuitives do not really need. Maybe I am just more prone to arrogance than most, and so have built in my own ‘checks and balances’ system over time! But I don’t really question on little, daily intuitions, more on those driving big decisions, and I more question the steps or plan that I might derive, than the seeing itself. It depends. I think that when ego gets in the way, it kind of ‘adds on’ things to a true seeing, or misinterprets true seeing, rather than making things up entirely. So I am extra-cautious that seeings aren’t getting ‘twisted’ in the filter of my logical/psychological mind after the fact, if that makes sense.

  7. Eloquent Bohemian permalink
    July 21, 2009 9:34 pm

    “struck by how many people are going through a phase similar to this”… Add me to this list. 🙂
    This is a wonderful and timely post of yours for me as I’m trying to shave away the excess in my life to re-acquire some authenticity and focus.
    I could have written what Caroline wrote about your post.
    Patience, for me… virtually non-existent. I’m always running into more ‘data’ to add to my thoughts and decisions.

    And this: “seeing as the ability to discern patterns and structures under the surface of events, our own minds, and the minds of others”… a succinct definition in contrast to merely looking.

    All in all, I like your process. It points out a couple of items which I’m not consciously aware of in my own ‘process’ – dreaming and stalking – and I shall be surely adding them to it.

    …and sorry ’bout the laptop. 😦

  8. July 21, 2009 10:46 pm


    It sounds like you bought the macbook at about the same time I bought mine. Mass mac conversion — something must have been in the air 🙂

    Your 7 steps is interesting. I’ve never broken it down like this. I (often my body) seem to get the insight first out of the blue and only after that, I can figure out the why. For instance, I KNEW I wouldn’t get along with my boss (of my last job) even though he was saying all the nice right things at the interview and extended exceptionally good offer — I knew what was going to happen, and it did. At the time, it felt like an invisible buffer between him and me.

    You are quite analytical, you know. It’s a good thing — there are many roads to intuition / insights.

  9. July 22, 2009 1:56 am

    I can identify with so much that has been said. I have been trying/waiting to “see” my next stage of life for the past two years. Your steps were great and have articulated a framework by which I can better understand my own experiences.
    I like “stalking” but for me it is an inner thing … like I feel I am stalking some deep (frightened) part of myself that needs healing before the next part of the journey. Also I like “mustering” and can feel that, the gathering of strengths and practices for the next part of the journey. Sort of gathering what is useful and discarding what is not.
    Patience and trust are a big one for me. Our western cultural mindset doesn’t see being at home “stalking” and “mustering” as really valued activities.
    Finally questioning – during the big changes is very important – I have recently had many “intuitive” insights about what my next work is and I could have jumped in, but something else said wait a bit, and they each one have dissolved.
    I feel my deeper intuition saying, not yet, not yet, (not ready?)and your blog has given me some more tools to further support the journey.
    thanks with love

  10. July 22, 2009 11:27 pm

    Being quiet is very important to me, removing all the noise from my world as much as I can so at least I can start to hear. I don’t watch televison nor read news papers or other ‘noisy’ information.
    I also now make sure that I feel if I come from love when making a decision or if I come from need, fear or obligation.
    Then at mind level I check if what I do adds value to all involved and when yes I go ahead, when no I won’t.
    And you did well with your sharing of the computer and writing this.

  11. July 22, 2009 11:44 pm

    I can often be a stalker because I am impatient and want fast answers. For me, insight comes in the quiet mornings when I am just breathing and not trying to reach for any particular thing. I feel more certain of myself and quite peaceful. Figuring things out is less important, and I just feel the rightness of everything. Ego driven thoughts often prevail when I am thinking too much, whereas true seeing comes when I’m willing to let go and just proceed.

  12. mommymystic permalink*
    July 23, 2009 5:12 am

    EB – I like this phrase of yours – trying to “shave away the excess in my life to re-acquire some authenticity and focus.” That is just how I am feeling. For awhile I seemed to be in this ‘throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks’ phase, and now it is time to pare down and focus.

    Akemi – I know what you mean about the body-senses, I know other people who are more that way. I feel energy from people in the moment that way I think, but more general seeing for me is not so physical, it’s more in my awareness. Which goes along with being a mental/analytical type I guess.

    Rita – I loved what you wrote about the interplay of stalking and mustering, and about western culture not supporting this. I think this is so true. It is hard to wait until the right moment, we have so many forces telling us to get moving all the time.

    Wilma – I find abstaining from media, especially at certain times in my life, is so important too. It just adds a layer of over-stimulation. And I like what you said about checking your decisions against a compass of love. ‘Only with the heart does one see rightly’ is one of my favorite quotes (from The Little Prince.)

    Mermaid – ‘rightness’ is exactly it, I know what you mean. The usual ego mind is quiet and there is compass of integrity or rightness that comes through.

    Thanks to you all for excellent insights!

  13. July 24, 2009 8:55 pm

    Thanks for sharing your process, Lisa. I, too, am impatient when it comes to waiting for an answer, so I do a fair amount of stalking – easy to do with a very gifted intuitive as a close friend. She is helping me hone my discernment and trust myself more and more.

    That balance you strike in the questioning phase is difficult for me. Ego, disguised as self-doubt, often gets me second-guessing what I immediately felt was true in the first place.

    Writing is often the easiest way for me to cut through ego and get a straight answer, though, and I surprise myself when I don’t rely on it more than I do. Perhaps I want to stay stuck sometimes.

    One last thing: your first step about clarifying what you want to see is one that I almost always skip. This was such a great reminder of the importance of clarifying the specifics if I want specific answers.


  14. July 25, 2009 5:56 am

    I have to say, if controlling the story of your life seems important, this is a pretty cool method.

  15. mommymystic permalink*
    July 25, 2009 5:03 pm

    Alexis – I agree, that line between paralytic self-doubt and valuable self-questioning can be a tough one to find. It’s interesting you find writing helpful, I have heard that from others too, although it doesn’t seem to work that way for me personally.

    Suzanne – You crack me up. I never know quite how to take your comments. I don’t really see this as an effort to control the story, but one does have to make decisions in daily life. I know the ‘spiritually PC’ approach is to say ‘well, if you are connected to presence/silent awareness/the tao, etc. you will just act from that place, just know what to do, always in service to it.’ And sometimes it is like that for me. But sometimes it isn’t, so when a decision needs to be made – usually about action, acting in the world in a concrete way – some version of the process can help me sink below whatever distractions are making things murky.

  16. July 26, 2009 6:08 am

    Whatever choices are made, are perfect, even if something arises and judges it a mistake. The entity labeled “me” may seem to make a choice, but there is no “me”, only all that is, sometimes appearing as “me”, and sometimes appearing as “me making a choice”. Apparent choices can be made, the story tweaked into something “better” or “more fulfilling” or “deeply profound”, judging that murkiness is “bad”, or that the right way to be is called “silent presence” or “present awareness” or “Taoistic blissful mere existence” or whatever it’s named on a Sunday morning. Whatever twists and turns the story makes are meaningless. Stories depend upon a past and a future, and there is neither, only thought: memory and speculation. There is only this endless moment. Or hey, maybe I’m talking out of my ass!

  17. mommymystic permalink*
    July 26, 2009 6:24 pm

    Suzanne – well personally I don’t think you are talking out of your ass, I think you are talking from a beautiful place, that cuts through the stories we tell at the level of mind. But I have become increasingly uncomfortable with how this ‘talk’ can get misused (in my opinion) to disengage from the world. The good/bad dichotomy in relation to our own mind is useless, and even harmful, and religion/spirituality has misused it much too much. But good/bad in relation to the world is necessary to a certain extent (although it is such a fine line.) Can we really look at a holocaust or Rwanda or whatever and abstain from making that judgment? It lets us off the hook to easily in relation to our fellow man it seems to me. I know this is not what you were addressing, but it’s where I’ve been going lately, and maybe will post on when I can, so that we can take this discussion that direction. Thanks for coming back and responding!

  18. July 26, 2009 6:56 pm

    There is no Mother Theresa without Hitler, so to speak. However, in the story that passes for “my” life, I certainly encourage my children to get along, manage their conflicts etc. That is what the character Suzanne does, anyway. Far from being detached, it’s all incredibly intense! It’s a HUGE ask – to drop judgment, to drop EVERYTHING that the “good, healthy” ego demands, to do right, to be better, to improve humanity, to ease suffering. There is no one who can drop them, or not. All those things may arise, they may not, whatever it is that is happening is absolutely perfect and needs no improvement. There is no one who could improve it. Life unfolds in billions and billions of apparent stories just as it must. Everything that has ever been sought, is right here, and always “has been”. Or something like that! Look forward to anything you have to write about it. Writing is fun, isn’t it? Useless, pointless, but fun.

  19. Katrina permalink
    February 25, 2012 4:34 pm

    I’m a vivid dreamer. I have always been this way, I once drove my mother to anger because in a dream I saw my grandfather walk in my room to wake me up, when I opened my eyes he wasn’t there, however, the dream was so vivid, so totally concrete to me I searched the house for several minutes insisting he was there somewhere, maybe just playing hide and seek or some joke on me. Many insights and psychic answers come to me when I’m sleeping, I also sometimes have semiconscious experiences when I meditate which feel very much like dreams but come to me in a way that I’m still aware of my surroundings.

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