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Navigating life – with our inner GPS

In Insight and Experience by Chip RichardsLeave a Comment

I’ve always enjoyed the messages that life gives us in response to our thoughts and actions on the path – the way a question in our mind can be answered by a bumper sticker on the car in front of us or confirmed by a slogan on the t-shirt of a waitress in a café; the way a passing conversation of total strangers can speak to the ponderings of our own subconscious; and the breaching of a whale can remind us of a part of ourselves that we’ve forgotten but is now calling to be reclaimed.


In recent years I’ve really come to value this exchange as a sort of energetic conversation with the Universe, where our thoughts, feelings and focused intentions make up our part of the conversation, and the reflections and experiences that we attract into our life are the Universe’s response. I have found this to be particularly true during times of genuine connection in the natural world, where shifts in light, wind direction and the meeting of animals on our path often synchronise with thoughts and feelings with such precision that is seems a great symphony of interconnectedness is playing out. While we may not always be consciously aware of this exchange, experience suggests that this symphony is playing in response to our every breath and step – whether we realise it or not.

While our indigenous ancestors and elders lived their whole life by the subtle rhythms of this energetic dance, amidst the pace of modern life, we are often so transfixed by the details of our external ‘reality’ that we don’t even know this dance is going on. We seek change and call out for guidance, but as the heavens part and stars line up to reveal the clearest path, we’re so focused on the touch screen of our iPad that we don’t even see the sky.

How many windows of clear opportunity and genuinely helpful direction we each have walked past for lack of willingness to see, I do not know… but the great gift of this symphonic conversation is that it does not hold us ransom for our often distracted minds. It simply, continually, patiently awaits our willingness to tune in and consciously join the song.

Recently amidst a new life adventure in the US, I have gained some real insight into this sacred call-and-response exchange with the Universe. Interestingly, it has come not from the whispering limbs of the great redwoods that surround our current home (though I know they‘ve played their part), but through the robotic female voice of the ‘Global Positioning System’ (GPS) navigation tool on my new Android phone!

I’ve never been into fancy mobile phones. On the contrary, I’ve generally opted for the $49 pre-pay special, simply because I haven’t seen a point in having more than a phone for a phone. But on our arrival to the US in August, I splurged and bought a sparkly touch-screen model, pretty much for the sole reason that it came preloaded with a high definition version of the entire film Avatar. It also came with about a million other mini applications ranging from guitar tuners to cartoon lizards that mimic your voice. But the one that has had the most influence on our life as we have navigated the busy highways and energetic currents of this land has been the GPS.

For those who (like me until about three months ago) aren’t familiar with how a GPS works, the basic function goes as follows… You type or speak the address of where you want to go, the phone (through satellites in space) figures out where you are in relation to where you want to be, and then promptly begins instructing you on the best path to reach your destination.

I have heard the teachings of Abraham (Jerry and Ester Hicks) refer to the GPS device in their campervan as a metaphor for our ‘emotional guidance system’ and how when we stray from our highest and most aligned path in life it is our emotion body that often (like their GPS) kicks in and signals us to, “Please return to the highlighted route”. In simple terms this metaphor shares an idea that I really resonate with – that negative feelings on the inside often indicate when we’ve gone off route and, through their stirring, they can help guide us back in the good feeling direction of where we really want to go.

What I’ve noticed about our own GPS system is a bit different (though complementary) to this concept, and for me, has taken my whole relationship to the GPS of life to a whole new level.

Gift of non-judgement

The first thing I noticed when we began using our GPS is that it doesn’t actually say, “Please return to the highlighted route”, when we have made a ‘wrong’ turn or driven past an exit ramp. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to judge our actions based on its master plan of what we ‘should have’ done. It doesn’t look over its shoulder at what could have been. It simply takes a quiet moment to recalibrate base on where we are, and with the same goal in mind, it offers the next clearest direction on how to get there now. It doesn’t seem to decipher our movements as good, bad, right or wrong, but simply as choices that have been made along the path – and now we make another one. While we may be beating ourselves up for the time we have wasted or the road we have missed, the GPS’s only concern is, ‘What is the very best path from right here, to where we want to go?’ While sometimes the answer may involve a few quick right turns and then back on the main path, it does this with zero judgment or attachment to the original plan. It seems to acknowledge that while sometimes we may stray from the most direct path, if we remain open to the infinite possibilities of the moment, even our straying will eventually lead us where we want to go. Not a lesser way, just a different way. Perhaps there is a reason we turned left instead of right. Perhaps we will encounter a friend on the road we have not seen for many years, or see a shop we have been looking for but unable to find. Perhaps this slight shift in navigation will shift our whole schedule by seen seconds, thus avoiding some unperceived hiccup later on, or giving time for that perfect parking spot to open up upon our arrival. The GPS is not here to judge, but combines this sense of detachment and acceptance with absolute clarity about where to next… and that is a great gift.

One step at a time

The second thing I’ve realised about our GPS program is that once it knows the ultimate destination, it only gives us one clear direction at a time. It doesn’t say, “In 800 feet, turn right at Ocean Street, then left at Grape Road and drive for a few miles until you hit the highway…”. It simply says, “In 800 feet, turn right at Ocean street.” Sure it knows all the rest (it’s watching from the sky!), but it only gives us what we need right now. In doing so, it keeps us in the present. Sure sometimes we try to leap forward and cross-reference with the map or think our way a few steps ahead, but the GPS knows that any subsequent directions would only serve to burden our mind and/or take us from the moment we are in.

It reminds me of the natural horsemanship work we have done in the past several years and how powerfully present those great beings call us to be when working with them toward any end. One thought too far removed from the very moment at hand and the moment itself is often lost – therefore rendering that future thought potentially irrelevant! Whether we are driving to the grocery store or across the country, the guidance requirements are the same. One step. One breath. One clearly expressed and followed direction at a time. “First do this, and once you’ve done this, I will tell you what to do next.”

Power of intention

So these first two GPS gifts have been quite transformational to our approach in both driving and life, but the third one (which almost sneaked through unnoticed) is perhaps the most potent of all, and that is… in order for the GPS to offer any help whatsoever, we must first tell it where we want to go. We can type this destination in or we can speak it with clarity into the phone, but one way or another we must express, as specifically as possible, the location of our ultimate destination. This is our greatest responsibility, for without clearly stating where we wish to go, the GPS has no way of knowing how to apply its seemingly limitless capacity to see and guide our steps. Until we consciously choose our destination, and until we ask for help, the GPS will sit quietly and wait. From this moment right here it would happily begin guiding us to the corner store or the Grand Canyon with equal focus, clarity and acceptance, but we must first decide where we wish to go.

By claiming our responsibility to choose our destination (in driving and in life), we are not attempting to override the power of our GPS (or the Universe). We are simply acknowledging and fulfilling our sacred partnership with it. We play our part by clarifying our intentions and following our deep inner promptings, and the Universe plays its role by reflecting those intentions back to us in our experience. While the journey (and indeed the destination) may ultimately look different from what we imagine, if we are willing to stay present and take one step at a time, there are no limits to where the path will lead. Life does not judge what could or should have been. It simply meets us right where we are, with an ever-present willingness to guide the next step toward who and where we really want to be.

About the author

Chip Richards

Chip Richards is a best selling author, speaker and coach with a passion for empowering individuals and organisations to awaken their true self and live the path of their higher purpose in life.

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