“When the student is ready, a teacher appears.” ~ Lao Tzu
Have you ever agonized for weeks over an important decision and suddenly have a strange coincidence or two appear out of thin air pointing you in the right direction?
One day last August, I hung up the phone with my photography mentor feeling completely disappointed that she had advised against me submitting my images for review to complete my Certified Professional Photographer application.
I had passed the written test back in April and worked all summer on images for submission, so I was not prepared for her to tell me a couple of my mandatory images would not pass. I felt discouraged and wondered if I should continue the application or find another creative avenue to pursue.
We have all faced big decisions in our lives involving relationships, job changes, travel opportunities, life passions and grief. Usually we talk to someone we trust since it is easy to feel overwhelmed, confused or lost. Sometimes we shout out to the Universe: “I don’t know what to do! Show me a sign.”
Then we sit and wait for an answer, all the while unsure of what we are looking for or if anyone is “listening.”
I believe these are signs that are part of an infinite energy is actively involved in all of our lives. This force (God—The Divine, The Universe, Spirit, Higher Power,) is within us, connecting and communicating with us all of the time.
The signs will appear in different ways for different people.
I have received many signals, signs and synchronicities that have guided me in the right direction. From vivid dreams and special songs playing on the radio at exactly the right moment, to notes falling out of old books and familiar phrases spoken to me by a stranger.
They are meant to grab our attention, alerting us there is something important for us to pursue on our path to fulfilling our life’s purpose.
Everyone has access to this divine mentor, but some of us may need practice tuning in. Here are four easy steps you can take to start seeing these more easily:
The first step is to become fully present and aware of my thoughts. What type of messages am I sending out, positive or negative? The law of attraction is the belief that like energy attracts like energy. Meditating allows me to relax and change all negative thoughts that may be on constant repeat when I am stressed or anxious. I turn off my mind and turn my physical senses on high, aligning me with my inner self—my spiritual voice.
Ask for what you need in a super clear way.
Whether I say it on my knees in prayer, in quiet meditation, spoken out loud, or written down on paper, my request is clearly stated. Being specific about where I need guidance helps me recognize the messages that can come in various forms. Sometimes before falling asleep, I request for answers to come to me in my dreams.
Believe and surrender.
Once I have put my request out there it is time to let go of it. I completely surrender to the Universe and become willing to accept the message. I believe without a doubt that my request has been heard and faithfully say prayers of gratitude and acceptance.
Stay open and receptive, but still neutral.
Staying neutral to the process is important, but sometimes, keeping my ego from trying to force messages can be difficult. I ask with an open heart, without knowing when I will receive guidance or how it will manifest. Releasing all expectations about the way I think the Universe will communicate allows me to receive signs in unexpected ways, little synchronicities that catch my attention.
Trusting my intuition, I recognize the deep feeling as something that requires my attention and I act on it.
The night after I ended the phone call with my mentor, I asked the Universe to guide me to my next step: should I abandon my creative path with photography?
The next morning, I received two emails with applications requiring immediate action on my part, having deadlines of less than 24 hours, the first for elephant journal’s fall apprentice writing program and the second from a photography group needing runway photographers to go to New York Fashion Week (NYFW).
Wow! This shook me wide-awake! I had loved reading elephant journal, but this was the first time I had heard about their apprenticeship program. And NYFW has been something my daughter and I have talked about attending together, but we never sat down and figured out how to make it happen.
Taking these as clear signs from the Universe, I applied to both, even though I had no previous experience in either one. Surprisingly, I was selected by both groups! I knew I had life lessons to learn with each one and decided to accept both opportunities for personal and creative growth, and I am so glad that I did!
The trip to New York was intense, but full of valuable lessons, hands-on photography experience and networking opportunities, plus amazing quality time with my 22-year-old daughter.
The elephant journal community offers a wonderful avenue of immense personal growth as a subscribing member, an apprentice and a contributing writer. During the four-month apprenticeship, I was confronted with control issues, low self-confidence and time management insecurities that reemerge whenever I am outside of my comfort zone. I was not expecting to find readers willing to connect with my writing on such a personal level. I found a community to ease my anxiety from my children leaving home and a new avenue for my photography.
The best part of the program was becoming part of a tribe of writers offering friendship, tremendous inspiration and support to one another.
Learning to recognize signs and trusting our intuition are part of the journey of spiritual awakening.
Don’t worry if you miss a sign—the Universe is pretty persistent and will eventually hit you with an obvious sign you simply can no longer ignore.
Author: Tammy Novak
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Christina L.F., Flickr.com