It’s been an enormous month for me.  I was inducted into the Association of Transformational Leadership and that led to a slew of potential business opportunities that came rushing in.  One guy wants to help me train physicians in the Whole Health approach to patient care I used in my clinical practice, which I also teach in my upcoming book Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, May 2013).

I also just saw the documentary film Escape Fire, about how to rescue our broken health care system, and at the screening, I met Dr. Dean Ornish and spoke to him about the radical mind-body medicine programs he’s been using for decades to effectively reverse heart disease – programs which, after 16 years of Dr. Ornish battling Congress, Medicare is now covering.

And now I’m prepping for the speeches I’ll be giving at the Take Back Your Health conference in Washington DC, the Hay House I Can Do It IGNITE conference in NYC, and TEDx American Riviera in Santa Barbara.

There have also been other big shifts. After ten years of not working outside the home, my husband just took a job with a charitable nonprofit involved in education. And I just started a mentorship program for my art, and after nearly three years of essentially neglecting my art career, my visual arts gears are churning again.

Things Are Shifting

All this movement – exciting though it is – means change is afoot, and anyone who knows me well knows that, like most people, I can be incredibly resistant to change – even good change! When stuff shifts like this and lots of decisions appear on my plate, I tend to get spinny. I feel ungrounded, like I’m floating, like I just can’t quite find where to hang my hat, as if my hat rack is spinning in an orbit all its own.

I wind up confused and irritable, my tummy gets full of butterflies, I’m easily distracted, and I have a hard time making good decisions.

Prayers For Guidance

When I get like this, I pray for Guidance. Here are some of my frequent prayers:

“If there’s any action I’m supposed to take, please make it known.” 

“If I’m supposed to do [insert what you’re confused about], please send me a sign.” 

“Please use my dreams to deliver any messages You wish me to receive.” 

When The Signs Come Rushing In

When I do this, very often, Signs from the Universe come flooding in like someone just dismantled the dam. But the Universe doesn’t always speak in clear messages. Sometimes they’re garbled, not necessarily because the Universe doesn’t know how to deliver clear messages, but more likely, because I’m only half listening. I can tell the Universe is trying to communicate something – strange coincidences happen, serendipities abound, books fall open as if by accident, dreams appear. But I can’t interpret the signs. They’re confusing. They don’t answer my questions directly. I start feeling lost.

Taking Time To Listen

I’ve felt this way many times over the past six years since my Perfect Storm, and after enough experience with the recurring sensations that arise when the Universe is trying in vain to communicate with me, I now understand what must happen.  I must get quiet.

I was feeling just like this on Monday morning, when I found out that my plans for Monday night had to get rescheduled. Because I was supposed to be working on the last round of edits for my book, but because my editor had a delay, my calendar was unexpectedly empty (Sign #1).  I had been saying I needed to get quiet so I could listen to Guidance, so I asked my assistant to book me a room at Harbin Hot Springs, where I usually go when I need to get clear. But they were booked, something that rarely happens (Sign #2). I took it as evidence that I was supposed to go back to the Esalen, the seat of my soul, where I used to go all the time before I moved further away. When I checked on availability there (it’s usually booked), they had a room (Sign #3).

Ask Directly

I was planning on doing some automatic writing when I got to Esalen – just sitting down with my journal and seeing if anything came through – but, not to waste time on the four hour drive, I put in some didgeridoo music on the car CD player and started trying to tap into my Inner Pilot Light. I asked my Inner Pilot Light and/or the Universe to help me make a series of decisions. I then started asking questions, expecting more subtle but confusing signs. This time, however, when I asked specific questions, the answers came transmitting through clear as day in a voice in my head that spoke in a voice quite different than mine – very authoritative and firm, but also comforting, compassionate, and nurturing (Signs #4-13).

I questioned the answers. Were they really coming from a place that serves the highest good? Or could they be coming from my ego (who I call Victoria Rochester) or my Gremlins. After all, there are many voices inside us that LOVE to give advice. How could I be sure the answers were trustworthy?

Seek Confirmation

I asked any negative energies that might not wish me well to get the hell outta dodge, and I asked that only light-filled, spirit voices speak about these important decisions. I stopped at some of my favorite Big Sur haunts on the way down – sacred places where I’d gone seeking big answers to big questions before – and I closed my eyes and prayed. I also asked for affirmations that the answers were true – external signs confirming what I’d heard.

Signs 14-16 affirming that the answers were trustworthy followed shortly thereafter.

When I made it to Esalen, I went straight to the “energy vortex” down by the river, where the redwood trees are twisted in spirals and my favorite bridge crosses the river. It’s the place where, after I had left my job in medicine with plans to never return, I made an agreement with the Universe to come back to medicine, only on different terms. When I agreed to do so, I put my hands on the bridge’s metal railing, and the railing was pulsing – literally pulsing.  I went running around the whole Esalen property trying to see if any of the other metal rails pulsed. They didn’t.

I had been back several times since, and the pulse had disappeared. But I asked the Universe to speak to me via the railing. If I was on the right track, I asked the railing to pulse for me. It did (Sign #17). I sat on the bridge and sobbed with gratitude and a deep sense that I was being led, that I didn’t have to navigate these tough decisions alone, that I was held in nurturing arms and that I could trust that all would be well, if only I’d listen to Source.

That night, at dinner, I met a guy who had more answers for me (Sign #18). And it just so happened he knows one of my BFFs as well (Sign #19). He said he has a message for me – he wasn’t sure where it was coming from. It was exactly what I needed to hear (Sign #20).

When You’re On A Roll, Keep Asking 

Clearly, I was tapped in, which doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I feel totally disconnected, as if the Spirit voice is mute and I’m deaf and dumb. So when that voice turns on in a reliable way, I keep asking.

Ask For The World

There’s a new soul relationship in my life, and I was curious what that was all about. As someone committed to consciously making sacred contracts with the people in my inner circle, and making sure those agreements are aligned with the highest good, I thought I’d check that out.

What were the soul agreements I was making with this new friend?

The answers came pouring in.

What about my husband? Was this new job a good thing or a bad thing?

More answers. 

What about my mother? Anything I can do to be a better daughter?

Still more answers.

How about any open ended guidance? Anything the Universe wants me to know that I’ve forgotten to ask?

Yup. Here ya go.

Sometimes the answers aren’t this obvious. I’ve spent six years practicing these skills, so it’s getting easier with practice, but in the beginning, I didn’t have some angel in my ear whispering sweet nothings. I had to get bonked with 2 x 4’s. If you’re seeking guidance but can’t hear the answers, I give more tips for how to hear the signs from the Universe here.

Don’t Forget To Say THANK YOU

I love the title of Anne Lamott’s new book: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.

When you’re blessed to receive guidance, don’t forget to bow to your knees with thanks. Express boatloads of gratitude. Bake the Universe cookies. Never forget how blessed you are.

Also don’t forget that, at least in my case, the Universe seems more likely to guide you if you’re actually brave enough to follow the guidance. You know how you feel when you give a friend advice and they flat out ignore you? I have a feeing your Inner Pilot Light/the Universe feels the same way…

How Do You Seek Guidance?

What works for you? Have you had any miraculous stories of guidance? Share them here.

Grateful for answers,

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  1. kd12

    dear lissa — what an awesome post! thank you. and thanks for the great call yesterday with amy & martha…i can share one story of calling that i experienced (there have been many). Years ago, i worked at a newspaper. my heart had been broken by a relationship with a co-worker. i thought of quitting. i prayed for help, for guidance. i spent mornings in quiet prayer, trying to feel or sense something, anything. A certain position opened up at the paper that people thought was right for me but i wanted nothing to do with it. i felt it would typecast me. it looked like a position for “a girl” and not a good career move. i fought it. one morning, in prayer, i felt something happen to my brain. it was as if my brain did a back flip and when it was over i suddenly wanted that “girl” position more than i wanted anything else! i went to work that day, told the editor i accepted the position, and spent 11 years in the most incredible, interesting, life-changing work i could ever have imagined. I not only traveled to various places in the world, i wrote stories that affected people deeply, and it led me to winning a prestigious fellowship. the one job i didn’t want turned out to be the one job i wanted with all my heart — after i got the call…I wish you so much joy and peace as you follow your powerful call:-)

  2. Dr.Mac

    Congratulations Lissa on the changes that are coming your way for you and your family. I know how scary change can be as I am about to go through it myself. I just started building a practice a year ago and you know that it takes time. After raising 2 children and now with an empty nest, it was time to spread my wings and fly. My husband was supportive or at least I thought he was, until he recently told me that he wants a major life change. He wants to move to the other side of the country, leave the 29 year marriage and start all over (except his job). He just doesn’t know when he wants to begin this new adventure in his life. Could be 6 months, could be a year or even two. This news paralyzed me with fear, so much so that I couldn’t eat, sleep, or even think. I talked to some friends, colleagues and have come to the conclusion that our contract is over. I would much rather lose a husband and keep a friend, than have him with me and lose both. I was so afraid of when the decision was going to be made for the dissolution of the marriage, that I am now igniting my inner pilot light and take the reins on that. I will get the papers filed, and present them to him when the time is right. I am not doing this to be mean, I only want for us both to end this in a peaceful and easy manner. I know that the Universe has something waiting for me, and in order to accept it, this chapter in my life must come to a close. I wish you all the best Lissa and look forward to your new book. Working on your Modules now, which is helping me with the business model. Keep Shining.

  3. Marilyn Fowler

    I raised 3 children without child support doing waitress work, and I spent years in a state of depression with a suicide attempt. At age 47, my inner Voice yelled at me, “You need to work in the mental health field.” I was totally confused. I had only 11 college credits earned at age 18, I had no money saved and no money for college. My entire family and all of my friends tried to discourage me from such a bizarre notion at my age. But my inner Voice was so commanding, I could not disobey. I prayed, and another friend in another city was willing to help me. So I left Jacksonville, Florida, moved to Las Vegas, got a waitress job, and enrolled in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where everything I needed came to me. Later, I got my Master of Science Degree in Social Work, and worked for 20 wonderful years as a Psychotherapist. I still thank God for all those years I suffered with depression preparing me for my mission. I loved my work and I loved every patient I worked with. I could have ignored my inner Voice, but I chose to listen.
    We may feel alone sometimes, but that’s our own belief in separation. In truth, we are never ever alone. We are all connected, and the Universe will always answer.
    Thank you for the work you’re doing helping others to listen.

  4. Cheryl

    Amazing. I just have to tell you – this was my facebook status yesterday:

    “ok friends – I’d love to hear some of your opinions on this… you know the feeling when your intuition is SCREAMING at you, but you have no idea what it’s saying? how do you tap in and receive the right message? I know everyone has their own method – what’s yours?”

    And then your blog post came in today. Truly amazing.

    Here’s the rub though – i know the universe is speaking to me, and i think i know what about… but i don’t know what it’s saying at all… i’m scared to follow your tips, as i don’t entirely trust myself to listen honestly without interpreting/altering the message.


    I obviously need to start tapping in – there’s something that I have to learn. Thank you for sending out this message!

  5. Michelle Medina

    Could certainly use some guidence like yours Lissa!!
    Been accepted to Naropa U in Boulder COLO, but spoke with the national social security office and they say if I get any kind of scholarships/student loans they’ll take my ssi away. . .
    With that knowledge under my belt I’ve decided to do something extremely radical. . . sell my V card.
    My parents are behind me as much as they can be and it’s 100% better then the plan I had to take my life on my Birthday 2013.
    I must confess, I’m feeling pretty naughty and pretty great right now!

  6. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Nope- no accident there Amy! Great post…
    Much love

  7. Catherine

    What an inspirational story. Wish I had a ” Metal railing ” Going to go to your how to read the signs blog. Maybe I’m just not listening/paying attention enough. There is change in my life. This year of the dragon has had it’s ups and downs. I’ve had some amazing experiences that have helped me through the lost of my Mom and a muched loved pet within 3 weeks of each other. Plus uncertain /upsetting living arrangements. Have to find a quiet place, nature is an important part of my life and a great restorer of energy.
    Like you said the real test / journey begins when you take the plunge and act on what the universe sends you.
    Best of luck to all. Thankyou for sharing your story Lissa.

  8. Beryl

    Hi Lissa

    I am breathing a sigh of relief at this end LIssa. How very very refreshing to hear your story. Going against the grain is challenging and inspiring. Would love to connect more with you Lissa – our site is all about people stepping outside of the box and following their passion.

    I just read on FB that you are going to be training ‘conscious’ doctors. Fascinating and wonderful!

    Am off to watch your Ted Talk.

    Keep sharing Lissa – we are right behind you!


  9. Bill Matte

    Put out a mental message in need of support this morning, and was drawn to click on this inspirational and uplifting post. Thank you Lissa!

  10. iNfiN888

    I find that a walk alone in a naturally beautiful place with nobody else around is the best way for me to focus my ‘inner pilot light’. Communication with guiding forces can be immediate but sequential events sometimes take time to play out and interperet before we understand the answers, but they come.


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