The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.


JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. Today we're going to talk about living in the light -- living as spiritual beings in the material world. My guest is Shakti Gawain, the author of the best-selling book Creative Visualization, as well as a new book, Living in the Light. Shakti is the founder of the Shakti Center in Mill Valley, California, and the co-founder of Whatever Press. Welcome, Shakti.


MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here.

GAWAIN: Thank you.

MISHLOVE: Your basic premise is that we are energy beings, we are spiritual beings, that's our basic nature, and that the physical world that we perceive about us isn't really quite as real, I suppose --

GAWAIN: Oh, it's real, it's real. It's just two different levels of reality. No, it's definitely real, but that we have created the physical world out of consciousness energy.

MISHLOVE: The physical world emerges as sort of a playground for us to learn and grow in. The trick that we all seem to have, is having recognized that about ourselves, or at least intellectually having some concept of the spirit within, the god within us, how do we then reconcile that with our life here on this planet?

GAWAIN: I literally think we created this physical plane of existence to master the creative process of creating form out of spirit.

MISHLOVE: In ancient mythologies it's sometimes referred to, I think, as the descent of spirit into matter, and then the ascent of matter back to spirit. But we're sort of at the turning point right now, where we're trying
-- and many people are, the new age people -- in many different mysterious ways people are trying to reconcile these two aspects of our nature. I suppose it's especially in the world that we live in today that we do that.

GAWAIN: Actually I believe that we are facing the challenge of completely synthesizing, of creating a world of form that's completely conscious of spirit -- you know, where we're totally aware that we are spiritual beings, and that we are creating this physical world, and that we do it consciously and with joy.

MISHLOVE: You have written a number of different guidelines. And one of the interesting things, I think, is you discuss how we get locked into almost like little knots, or little circles -- for example, one of the polarities you describe is the tyrant and the rebel; these parts of our personality can come out in opposition to each other, and then we go spinning around in a little dance with that and lose track of our real nature.

GAWAIN: The basic premise that I'm trying to learn to live by, and helping other people to work with, is that we each have the truth within us, and that if we learn to trust, to listen to our intuition and to trust our own inner knowingness, and to live by it moment by moment, to learn to listen and act on our own intuitive knowingness, that then there's an inner guidance and intelligence within us that simply shows us every step of the way. And it's really very beautiful and in a way extremely simple, if we could only get ourselves uncomplicated enough to learn to do that. What you're describing is the fact that instead of doing that, what most of us have been taught is to learn to live by rules. We have a whole elaborate set of rules, and we try to follow those rules, but since most of those rules are really not very good for us, we often develop a rebellious part of us that then says the exact opposite of the rules. Neither one of those things is our essence, so what we have to learn to do is set aside all the rules, set aside the rebellion, and simply go for what's true, what feels right inside of us.

MISHLOVE: In a sense, I suppose, it's reminiscent of the Chinese Taoist philosophy of the yin-yang -- finding that perfect balance.

GAWAIN: Definitely, yes.

MISHLOVE: Would you say that if I were to be totally intuitive, that my intuition would tell me once in a while I ought to follow the rules?

GAWAIN: Well, yes. You know, your intuition will just tell you each moment what's appropriate, and sometimes it will correspond with whatever set of rules, or somebody else's set of rules. Absolutely.

MISHLOVE: I guess what I'm wondering is to what extent is it appropriate to follow the intuition? I think I hear you saying a hundred percent.

GAWAIN: Yes, a hundred percent.

MISHLOVE: A hundred percent, intuition all the way.

GAWAIN: When you can learn to do that. I mean, that takes practice. You can't just go out and do that overnight. But the fact of the matter is, your intuition is a hundred percent correct, and learning to hear it, and learning to determine what is your true intuitive voice, and learning how to interpret it and so on, that's a whole art form. It would probably take us a lifetime to do that.

MISHLOVE: Because we have many subpersonalities within us that would love to take control of the whole system and masquerade as the true voice.

GAWAIN: Some of them are already in control, and learning how to get them out of control and avoid other ones taking control, and really learn to get to the truth, is a tricky process. It's an art form, as I said. But it's not as complicated as people think. People tend to make a real big deal out of this, when in a sense it's fairly simple. It comes down to really trusting your gut feeling about things as often as you can. And sure, there's a lot of other voices going on inside of you. You have to learn to recognize those different voices. For example, there's the voice of the judge -- you know, that part of us that's always judging -- judging ourselves, judging other people.

MISHLOVE: The Freudian superego.

GAWAIN: Right, right. A lot of times the judge is running our lives, so we need to learn to distinguish when that judging voice is coming in. That's not the intuition. It usually speaks in a lot of shoulds. If you're hearing a should, that's not it. Then there's fear voices, there's all kinds of --

MISHLOVE: One of the areas that you emphasize quite a bit is what you call the old male and the old female. Can you elaborate on that?

GAWAIN: Well, actually, what I talk about is that we all have a male and female aspect to us, and one of the main things I believe that we're trying to do is allow the development of and the integration of our male and female side, our male and female aspects. The way we've treated those in the past has been very out of balance, in various different ways. What I call the old male is the very controlling ego part of us. Male or female, we each have that controlling ego side of us which is the one that tells us that we're wrong and bad and that we need to do it this way and that we need to control everything, and so forth. But the true nature of the feminine and masculine aspects of ourself, as I see it, is that the feminine side of us is the intuitive aspect, and the male is the active aspect of our being, and what we want to learn to do is allow our male to trust and support and act from the intuitive feminine side of ourselves, of our nature. So whether you're a man or a woman -- some people don't like these terms, and you can easily use other terms, but I like the poetic aspect of these terms -- you can think of your feminine side as being your intuitive and the guiding force within and the nurturing aspect of ourselves, and the male side is the one who carries out the action. So to put it very simply, you ask me to come and be interviewed on your television show. I consult my feminine side, my intuitive side, and say, "Well, do I want to do this?" She says, "Yes, I'd love to do that." And it's my male side then that says, "OK, I'll come," and who gets me here.

MISHLOVE: In other words, the male side, the actor, the doer, seems ideally in your terms to always work under the guidance of the female side.

GAWAIN: Well, that to me is the ideal, is that they trust each other and work together. So instead of constantly distrusting ourselves, we act from a basis of love and trust within ourselves. Most of us have operated the opposite -- in other words, you have an intuitive feeling, and almost before you realize you've had it, you usually put it down. Like say you have a feeling, "Gee, I'd love to quit my job and try doing such-and-such." Or, "I sure would like to be able to express this feeling to this person." Or some impulse like that. And then you go, "Oh, well, you can't do that! I mean, that's crazy. You shouldn't do that." And we immediately contradict our impulse or our feeling. So that's the male side of us contradicting and suppressing the intuitive.

MISHLOVE: One of the nice things that I've found in your writing is this sense of let's tolerate our weaknesses. If we have these great spiritual ideals and we fall short of them, as we always seem to do, or frequently seem to do, you suggest that we should just observe that without blaming ourselves.

GAWAIN: Well, it certainly is helpful. I mean, blaming yourself never gets you anywhere. It just makes you feel bad, and it really doesn't help you to grow. You know, it's tricky understanding that you're a god or a goddess and you're also a human being, and that's the predicament we're in. We are very powerful, creative, insightful, spiritual beings, and we also are very human, and we're filled with all kinds of so-called imperfections and weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and that's what's beautiful about us too. You know, it's a beautiful thing to be a godlike being in a vulnerable human personality and body. So love yourself for your power, and love yourself for your vulnerability and your shortcomings, and then you can be happy.

MISHLOVE: You make it sound so easy, though. Is it easy?

GAWAIN: Well, no, because we've made it very complicated. I think I mentioned that earlier. To me, the more I understand the nature of life, the more I realize it's really meant to be easy, but we make it very complicated, and so it takes a long time to work our way back through all the complications and get back to the ease -- to just know that I have the truth within me, I can trust it, I can trust myself, I can act spontaneously, how I feel; I can do the things I love to do and not do the things that I really don't like to do; I can trust my heart; I can trust my gut feelings. It makes for an easy way of living; it makes for a very flowing way of living. But being the sort of neurotic Western civilized person that I am, I have a hard time letting it be that easy.

MISHLOVE: You mentioned, for example, your own struggle in writing this book, where you had a lot of people pressuring you to get another book out; after all, you had one best seller. And you yourself wanted to do it, and it just didn't seem to happen, so you sort of took an attitude of, "Well, whatever; when it's ready, it will be ready."

GAWAIN: I know that for me in my life now, if something feels like struggle, or too much hard work where you're forcing it, I can't do it. So I knew I had another book to write, and I kept thinking, well, I should do it. But it wasn't coming spontaneously from inside of me, so I just kept waiting, and I waited seven years, from the time of my first book to my second book. And when it was the right time, just as I had felt it would happen, it came easily. That's how things have to be for me -- they have to come at the right moment, and when they come at the right moment, then they happen.

MISHLOVE: So there's a kind of almost effortless quality to it.

GAWAIN: There is when I'm really trusting and following. I mean, I get scared, you know; I get scared and I tighten up and I think, "Uh-oh, it's not going to work," or, "I can't do it," and I just have to give myself a lot of love and compassion and get myself through that fear, and then it works.

MISHLOVE: Let's talk about discipline. You know, so much of our culture is based on discipline. For example, in athletics people are taught they have to sacrifice. It doesn't matter whether you feel like training or practicing or not, you've got to put in five or six hours a day. Isn't that kind of contrary to --

GAWAIN: It really isn't. But you have to understand that the nature of truth always contains both --

MISHLOVE: The kernel of its opposite.

GAWAIN: -- both polarities. And in becoming balanced we need to be able to develop both sides of every spectrum, both polarities. So there's a place for discipline; I mean, discipline is a very important quality to have in the physical world. But it also can be totally misused. Discipline feels good when your intuition tells you that you want to be disciplined. When I really want to do something, and I know it's going to take discipline to do it, it's easy, it feels good, I enjoy the discipline of it. It comes from inside of me. But many people use discipline in that harsh, judging way. You know: "You should be doing this, and you should --" And then you usually rebel against it and you don't do it. So it's a matter of trusting the times when you want to just let go and not do anything, and it's OK to do that sometimes for days, weeks, months. And then there's the time when the energy comes and it feels good to discipline yourself to do something.

MISHLOVE: What you seem to be saying then is just be with your process, whatever it is.

GAWAIN: Absolutely, and trust it.

MISHLOVE: Because I imagine intuition in the traditions, it's that still, silent voice that is always correct.

GAWAIN: Sometimes it's not so still and silent, you know.

MISHLOVE: Sometimes it's not.

GAWAIN: Sometimes it's raging. When you don't listen to it, sometimes. But for the most part, the more you listen to it and trust it and follow it, the stronger it becomes, so that you can really begin to feel the difference between your intuition and all the other voices that are going on inside of you.

MISHLOVE: But in most people I would think there is some conflict. There is a "Yes, no; yes, no." We go in circles around these decisions, and none of those conflicting voices, I imagine, are really intuitive, real deep intuition.

GAWAIN: Well, sometimes they are. Sometimes one of them is, and one of them is a voice of fear or old programming or whatever. It takes practice, and what I usually suggest that people do is just try to as simply as you can get in touch with what feels the best to you, what would feel the most gut-feeling right to you, and try it and see what happens. You have to be willing to do a little trial and error. Take a risk, do something a little different than you usually do. Follow your heart's desire, in a small way. I don't tell people to do big things; try the small things first. See what happens, practice with it. And if you're wrong, you'll learn. You don't create total disasters by doing this, incidentally. Somehow when you have a sincere desire to really trust your intuition and do the right thing, as you're practicing you sometimes embarrass yourself a little, you sometimes make a mistake and do things a little foolishly, or whatever. But you do learn real fast by being willing to take those risks.

MISHLOVE: What are some examples of that, say, in your life?

GAWAIN: Let's just take something real simple. Say you go to a party -- this is a good one I like to use -- or a social gathering, or a workshop or a lecture or anything else that you go to. You're sitting there and you realize, "You know, I don't really want to be here. It's just a feeling that there's not much energy here, this isn't feeling good to me, this isn't where I want to be." Well, normally you would contradict yourself: "Well, I have to be here. I can't walk out. It would be rude. I might miss something." Well, just for the heck of it, sometime when you're feeling that way, try leaving, and just see how it feels to you, and see what happens as a result of doing that. Maybe you're wrong, but on the other hand maybe you're right. Try it and see. As you try doing those unusual things and trusting your feelings, if you're following your intuition there will be a feeling of more aliveness. That's how you can tell. There's more juice, there's more energy, there's more aliveness that starts to happen.

MISHLOVE: That's crucial, isn't it?

GAWAIN: Absolutely. And when you get that feeling of more power, more aliveness, more energy, you start to be able to recognize the difference between that and a sort of deadness that happens when you don't trust yourself and don't do what you really feel. That becomes your monitoring system, so you can always tell, even though you may be doing something you're not even sure why you're doing it, but there's more life in it. And that's how we become more alive -- healthier, happier, more energetic -- by doing what we really want to do.

MISHLOVE: I would suppose that that's a process that one really does moment by moment.

GAWAIN: It has to be moment by moment. It literally has to be each moment: "How do I feel right now? What feels right to me right now? What impulse do I have right now?" If you don't have any, just relax, let go for a little while, see what comes next. If you try to plan it and figure it out, you'll get in your intellect, and intuition isn't in the intellect. So people often misunderstand. They go, "OK, what does my intuition tell me about what to do with the rest of my life?" You don't know that yet. All you can do is say, "Well, as of right now, what do I really feel? What do I really want to do right this minute, or today? What would give me energy right now? What would feel alive and exciting, or restful and nurturing?" -- depending on what you need at any given moment. There are many people who are constantly driving themselves so hard that if they start listening to their intuition, their intuition starts to tell them to do less and less for a while, and that's a hard one to trust.

MISHLOVE: You know, I find from doing these TV programs that a conversation is almost a model of this kind of intuition, because when we're in conversation with other people that's what we do. The next thing we say is what comes to us intuitively.

GAWAIN: Exactly. And that's what I do when I lead a workshop or give a talk. I don't plan ahead, I just go, I relax, and I start listening inside of me, and I start saying whatever comes to me, and doing whatever comes up to do. And it's a great way to live. It's much more interesting than having everything all planned ahead.

MISHLOVE: What does the light mean, when we talk about living in the light? That term is used so much. What does it mean to you?

GAWAIN: To me I guess it means consciousness - being conscious, being aware, taking out all the things, the dark places, the things we haven't looked at, haven't wanted to look at, haven't wanted to face, and shining the light on them, becoming conscious of them, becoming aware of all aspects of ourselves, so that we can really love everything about ourselves and about life. That's what it means to me.

MISHLOVE: I suppose that when we as a society really begin living in the light, shedding light in all of those little dark places, we'll make this a better world for all of us.

GAWAIN: I believe it has to start with the individual
-- that the only way you can transform the world, truly, is by transforming yourself, which means getting in touch with yourself, learning about yourself, developing all the different parts of you that you haven't developed yet, learning to love the parts of you that you haven't learned to love yet, learning to express all aspects of yourself. And as we become whole, expressive, creative, spontaneous, alive people, we kind of radiate that energy around us. You know, when you see someone living that way, it inspires you. You say, "Gee, I could do that. I mean, look at him, he's doing it; look at her, she's doing it. I could be more myself. I could take the risk to express myself more fully, or do more what I really want to do in my life." And it kind of spreads that way, and I do believe that that's what changes. You have to live it. You can't just think about it or wish for it. I mean, even visualizing -- I'm a great believer in visualization, but in addition to visualizing you have to be willing to act on your intuition in the moment, to trust those feelings that you have.

MISHLOVE: Do you recommend techniques for people to become more intuitive?

GAWAIN: Well, it's always helpful to use relaxation techniques, any kind of meditation technique, that sort of thing, just to sort of learn to relax and tune in and get more in touch with yourself. But when it comes right down to it, people often want some kind of technique to avoid having to just do the simple thing, which is ask yourself, "How do I really feel right now? What do I really want? If I really trusted myself in this moment, what would I do? What would I say?" and just do it. A technique that helps you to be able to do that is getting more in touch with your body, because we often hang out most of the time in our head, in our intellect. So I do have people practice taking a few deep breaths, relaxing the body, relaxing the mind, and actually dropping the consciousness down -- imagining that you put your awareness, instead of in your head, try putting it in your solar plexus. Just go down in there and ask yourself, "Now, what's my gut feeling right now?" For example, if you're dealing with an issue about whether you want to stay in the job you have now, or you want to change, or you want to try something new, what's your gut feeling about it? If you really did what you really want, what would that be? And try to feel down here what it feels like.

MISHLOVE: It's interesting to me that you'd say gut feeling, as opposed to a heart feeling.

GAWAIN: Well, the heart is real important too, and in fact for some people it's probably most important just to ask within your heart what you want. There's a little bit of a tricky thing about that, though, especially for spiritual people. People often get very stuck on just wanting to express only loving thoughts and loving feelings, and all our feelings and impulses aren't always totally meeting our model of loving. So to me there's a deeper thing sometimes of just trusting your gut feeling. It's a more earthy kind of contact, in a way.

MISHLOVE: It sounds like what you're saying is it may be perfectly appropriate at an intuitive level to be angry or to express anger.

GAWAIN: Sometimes it is. That's a tricky thing, because you have to learn how to express anger in a constructive way, a creative way, and not dumping and blaming so much as it is just allowing your feelings to come out. But yes, there are moments when that is definitely a very appropriate thing to do.

MISHLOVE: I would think that if one looked at it from this perspective that I might find a different intuition, say, if I were to focus right here in the forehead, or a different intuition if I were to focus in my hands or my feet. Different parts of my body might express different intuitive insights.

GAWAIN: That's true. I mean, you have to learn to listen to all the different parts of you. But there becomes a sort of awareness that seems to be able to take the sum total of that. But your body is a very, very important aid in being able to trust your intuition, because the body will definitely always try to get you more in touch with that. If you're ignoring your intuition, your body will start getting uncomfortable, it will start getting sick. It will do everything it can to get you to start paying attention to what you're really feeling.

MISHLOVE: Ultimately I think it may come back to balance again. We have so many competing needs and competing voices, and at some level intuition must involve the reconciling of these.

GAWAIN: It does. If you trust your intuition, it will sometimes take you to extremes. It'll take you to the extremes that you need to go to in order to be able to find balance.

MISHLOVE: To establish maybe a higher level of equilibrium for yourself.

GAWAIN: Exactly. You have to have the full range of every spectrum. So for example, if you're a person that's a very good listener, very receptive, very able to take in other people, that's one end of the spectrum, so your intuition will start moving you in the direction of being more expressive, more aggressive, more assertive, because you need to have that range in your repertoire as well. So you might feel like you're being taken to an extreme, because it seems very extreme --

MISHLOVE: To the other part of you.

GAWAIN: -- to what you're used to. But what I find is that if you're willing to go to the extreme for a while, then you come into balance. You have both ends of it, and then you're able to move back and forth in a harmonious, balanced way, and do whatever's appropriate. When it's appropriate to listen and receive, you will feel like doing that. When it's appropriate to express, you will feel like doing that. So it definitely always ends up in kind of a harmony and a balance.

MISHLOVE: What about for people who are in relationship or in families or in groups? Then it must get a lot trickier.

GAWAIN: Yes, that's always a big question. I can already hear people going, "Well, wait a minute. I have kids. I just can't afford to follow my intuition and do whatever I want to do. I have responsibilities. And how about what other people feel?" and all of that. As I said, this is definitely an art form. It takes some time to learn how to do this. What I believe and have discovered to be true, is that if you really are trusting your intuition and acting on it, there is a harmony. Your intuition will not tell you to do things that are truly wrong for other people or out of harmony with the whole. In fact, if everybody in the world were listening to their intuition and acting on it, we would all be in absolute harmony.

MISHLOVE: Like the rest of nature seems to be.

GAWAIN: Exactly. And the way we've gotten so out of harmony is because we don't listen and we don't trust. So in the process of learning to do this, you may have to break a lot of your own rules, and sometimes it looks like you're doing things that might not be the right thing, and that's where you have to try to take a little risk and see what happens. I have found that if you do that, in the long run everyone ends up benefiting. So even if you're a mother with a lot of children, you may not feel like immediately you can afford to do everything you want to do, but try just a little bit more often, as much as you possibly can. Take a little time for yourself, follow a little impulse of something that's good for you, put yourself before your children once in a while, and see what happens. It turns out that children absolutely benefit from having a mother who's taking care of herself. You see, then the children get the benefit of all the good energy that's happening for her.

MISHLOVE: And that's probably true in any kind of a relationship.

GAWAIN: Absolutely. I'm just using the children because it's the most extreme. Nobody benefits from having somebody sacrificing for them and resenting them as a result of it. So it's a matter of learning to truly care for yourself in such a way that you then can truly care for other people.

MISHLOVE: Shakti, let's end on that note.


MISHLOVE: Thank you very much for being with me.

GAWAIN: My pleasure.


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