Ideally, as children, we are provided with a clear set of instructions for success as we grow and move forward in the world. Finish your dinner and you can have some ice cream. Clean your room and you can watch some TV. Study for the test and you’ll get a better grade.

With the Universe, we tend to expect the same, but it doesn’t really go like that.

For most of my life, I’ve been riding Dressage with my horses which, in basic terms, is all about balance. We teach the horse to find better balance right to left and front to back until eventually it can carry itself from the core and free up all the limbs it was leaning on before. 

If I want to shift balance between the shoulders with my horse Kai, it would make sense that I could use a leg to ask her to stand up on the heavy side, and a rein to ask her to accept more weight on the lighter side. She will usually do exactly as I ask, but drop the change in a few strides once I stop asking.  Now, I can’t commit one leg and one rein to hold her up for the entire ride. If I want her to integrate this change into her understanding of self-carriage, I need a better plan.

A more advanced Dressage strategy would look like this: I ask for the right hind leg to step under the body and across the left hind for several strides. The rest of the body has to adjust in order to accomplish this without falling over. The core tightens, the spine relaxes, and the front end has to step up and take more responsibility. The result is not only even balance between the shoulders, but an overall posture that makes it easier for her to keep it. She gets a pat on the neck for the better posture, I get my balance between the shoulders, and we use the better posture to improve even further.

In my experience, the Universe works a lot like this. The messages are not as direct, as clear, or as linear as we expect. If I have lost the remote control and ask for help, I will be instructed to do something like get an apple from the kitchen. Assuming I follow the seemingly unrelated instruction, I turn to face the living room from a new angle, and will be able to see the remote on top of the fireplace mantle.

Once I asked for a certain kind of property and then had to find a new job, move to a different state and go through two boyfriends before it found me, all of which needed to happen before I could get there. 

Sometimes to make a decision on the thing right in front of me, I am asked to make a decision on four unrelated things first. But once I go through that process, the decision on the first thing is much more clear, and sometimes more creative.

Following these roundabout paths can seem like an absolute waste of time, especially if I’m attached to getting a clear answer the moment I ask for one. However, I have learned that the guided answers I eventually find are much more solid than the ones I make on my own.

Receiving these messages means giving up attachment to the way you expect them to arrive, and learning to speak a different language. Have the willingness to be led by the nose with a blindfold on and trust that what you asked for will eventually be delivered. The more you surrender and the less you question, the faster the answers can materialize.