Inner Compass: Finding the Path Through Turbulent Times

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The water enveloped me, beginning to feel like an enormous python exerting its strength, slowly suffocating me like a vise. I was a strong and instinctive swimmer. Up until now, the ocean had always been a source of inspiration and haven. 

In the past, when I found myself in situations that generated too much cognitive dissonance, and I knew that the only healthy path to take was to retreat and reflect; the ocean had always become my sanctuary. Why was it reversing, and becoming my nemesis? 

The answer was stunningly non-negotiable. Rather than acknowledge the riptide, and the skill I knew to flow with it, and through it, I had become angry, and obstinate, accusing the ocean of betraying me – instead of the actual truth: that I had defied it. 

All of the signs had indicated that today was not the day to plunge in and navigate the conditions. Yet I did, driven by my overriding desire and ego, which were vociferously propelling me into a battle against my intellect and wiser instincts. The Ego’s grasp on my better judgment was complete. Here I was, risking my life, for my Ego.

Throughout life, the ocean had provided me with potentially infinite guidance and opportunities to explore and expand as a human being. It had been a mentor, friend, and sustenance for my soul. 

My earliest memories were of gazing out at the horizon, observing and gauging the currents, conditions, and formation of waves. On any given day, and within minutes, the circumstances could change dramatically: sometimes calm – often vibrant and thrillingly engaging – other times highly turbulent and leading to potential danger. 

How to navigate the circumstances became a metaphor for life. The question always came down to, would I follow my inner compass that provided infallible instincts guided by nature and observation. Or, would I let my intellect and ego, filled with the myriad influences of others, become the omnipotent judge and jury defining my next steps, gradually eroding my originality and spark in what I sought and manifested in life. 

A surge from a huge wave grabbed me, and my energy began evaporating with the speed of steam being sucked through a downward grate. It became crystal clear that I had arrived at this massive ocean precipice as a result of my obstinate progress on a route that was not hospitable.  

At every juncture in the past when I had listened to my inner compass, the path unfolded with relative ease and grace. In contrast, when I tried to muscle through a situation, there was always rough going and spirit-diminishing hand-to-hand combat. My unyielding ego, clothed in the robes of my intellect, used its interrogatory talent as a weapon against my own inner GPS and the desire for deeper fulfillment that emanated directly through messages from my soul. 

Now, as the raging whirlpool effect of the riptide started to suck me beneath the waves – a combination of spin and agitation cycles pulling me under – I panicked, struggled, and grappled until my last bit of strength diminished, like the final EKG before flat line. 

I realized, and accepted with recrimination and resignation that my ego had taken me to a place where I had no power left. I had allowed it to take me to a location that had always terrified me in life: death. 

I was drowning….

I was jolted from this reverie as I faced a wall of water resembling a mirror. Shockingly, I recognized myself. Looking into my own bright vibrant eyes singed with a look of bittersweet sadness, I began to let go. 

The tension that had been rippling through my body like a high voltage current converted to a gentle massaging flow throughout my meridians. 

Then, like a Technicolor film, all of the most vibrant moments of my life projected on the wall of water in front of me. The ego had no place in the film, because each of the experiences I was viewing, and re-experiencing, had been generated by following my inner compass. This is how I had imagined the bliss I had hear Buddhists refer to. 

In that moment, I consciously realized that I no longer feared death, because the journey into this current state of being was the summation of all of the experiences I valued most in life. I relaxed, and said my goodbyes as the film continued to roll….

Stunningly, I felt a huge hand, as soft as a cushion beneath me, and it began propelling me upward at a speed and velocity that was startling. I wondered who had noticed, and come to save my life. I was actually annoyed at being jostled out of my reverie. 

Then quite suddenly, my head broke the surface of the ocean. I traveled like a projectile several feet up into the air – as if I’d been shot out of a canon. When I landed, and splashed down onto the surface of the water – there was no one there but me.

Many impressions remain imprinted within me from that day. 

At the age of 12, I had become inculcated with the understanding and assurance that I would never again fear my own death, and that my Inner Compass and Spirit had the infinite power to guide me to the best in life, as long as I let it, and my actions, speak.

  • Leslie Gainer

Founder of Expand or Contract (?)!



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