A few years back, cycling kept coming up in my conversations with my students. I thought, “Aha! A sign to add something new to my life. Who knows where this could go.”
The thing is, I can(?) cycle… badly. The thought of cycling on the street with all those vehicles – scary! But in the name of being curious, and pushing boundaries, I decided to give it a shot and blew $100 on a bicycle. I put in some incremental milestones to motivate myself: if I cycled up to *here*, I’d treat myself to an ice-cream and so on. I cycled to the convenience store, around my area, to my friend’s place nearby, to anywhere around my neighbourhood… sometimes so randomly I got lost.
So where did this sign lead to? So far, nothing. Beyond learning that I didn’t like cycling in the day, on paths less than 80cm wide and going upslope, nothing new showed up.
Later, I realised cycling was going through a boom period (OHHH!~). It was simply that I hadn’t been paying attention. In the end, I happily gave the bicycle to my neighbour.
Such detours aren’t necessarily bad – they help you to hone your intuition for what’s a sign, and you learn more about how signs work for you. Besides, it’s always fun to have variety into our lives.
Is it a sign?
When you feel that something is a sign, check it against a couple of questions. It seems counterintuitive, but you’re striking a balance: Intuition + Discernment.
If you’re anything like the old me, you’d have a bad case of “I want to believe”. Your mind goes a little crazy bouncing back and forth between “It’s a sign because…” and “But it’s not, because…”.
So a simple check-in both intuitively and logically helps to ease the confusion and monkey mind.
1. A Physical Check-in.
Take a minute to centre your thoughts and emotions. Ask, “What if it’s a sign?” Or flip the question: “What if it’s not a sign?”
How does this make you feel physically?
Lighter? Does your chest expand? Do your shoulders relax? Do you get tingling or pulsing sensations somewhere? Does your stomach flutter?
It’s different for everyone, but these help me know that I want to take the next obvious step. The better you know yourself and your body, the easier it will be to understand the physical sensations.
This doesn’t exactly help you define if an incident is a sign, but it helps you touch base internally, and find out what you really want. After all, why would you do anything that is not at least a teensy bit aligned to your desires?
2. Trending / In season. Media blitz. Obvious reasons.
If it’s winter, and people keep talking to you about going skiing and snowboarding, it’s probably not a sign for you to pick it up.
If Cirque du Soleil is in town and there are banners and advertisements everywhere, it’s not a sign for you to join the circus. Of course, if you feel inspired to take up circus arts, it’s certainly worth exploring!
If all your meetings got cancelled or postponed suddenly for no good reason, perhaps it’s a sign you need to take a break. Unless there’s a typhoon heading your way…
You get the idea.
Another way to think about this: if it’s happening to/for everyone, not just you, it’s not a sign.
3. Clarity. Signifiers.
Most signs, when we are alert enough to notice them, tend to be obvious (to you, not necessarily to others). We usually don’t need to over-analyse what they mean and if they are a sign.
Sometimes these signs are one of your unique signifiers. A signifier is the form of the sign (sound, image, event) and you’re usually the only one who understands their specific meaning in your life. For example, one of my signifiers is the moth. They show up in my life whenever I need some encouragement on my path.
The more you observe and get to know your unique signifiers, the easier it gets to notice them.
I’ve noticed that signs typically appear in three different situations:
- At different stages of the decision-making process
- When I felt lost, or was in denial about something
- When I actively asked for signs
Not that signs don’t show up at other times, but these situations cover the bulk of it.
Bottomline, trust yourself, trust your intuition, and be discerning.
Do you notice signs in your life? What are your personal signifiers? I’m curious what they are for you!
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