If you fancy yourself a spiritual person who regularly turns to tarot cards for intel, carries around crystals to balance blocked chakras, and doesn’t book important meetings before first consulting with an astrologer (no big decisions should be made while Mercury is in retrograde, of course), chances are you believe—at least in some sense—in signs from the universe.
But even if you aren’t wholly attuned to your energetic presence, you can still learn to access the helpful life tools that the universe may stand to offer. “It is always guiding us, but we’re not always listening,” says Gabrielle Bernstein, New York Times best-selling author, Well+Good Council member, and spirituality guru who contends that the universe is a powerful force that always has our back. “When we decide to tune in to that guidance, we can ask the universe to show us a sign.”
These signs from the universe can communicate with us and signal to us that we’re on the right path. The process of asking the universe for a sign, however, does require you to flex your spirituality muscle, even if it’s not so strong or defined. “Asking for a sign means that you’re willing to collaborate with the universe, that you’re committed to releasing structure and control to instead be led by a power greater than you,” Bernstein says.
If you’re ready to give this practice of asking for and accessing signs from the universe a try for the first time, Bernstein suggests buckling up for some existential excitement. “You might be a little psyched out when you first start receiving signs and noticing lots of synchronicities,” she says. “It might seem a little too good to be true, but it’s not. That is simply the miraculous way of life that is available to you when you surrender to the universe and have faith in the guidance you receive.”
Ready to give it a go for yourself? Check out Bernstein’s five-step process for receiving signs from the universe.
How to receive signs from the universe in 5 steps.
1. Get clear on what you’re asking
In order to receive a clear sign from the universe, you first need to be completely sure about what exactly your ask is. Then, have a dialogue with the universe about it (yes, really, a dialogue). Bernstein says the clearer the question, the clearer the answer will be—but what you ask about is always entirely up to you.
“You can ask for a sign to guide you toward anything you desire. If you’re unsure about a decision, or you simply want to know you’re on the right track, ask for a sign.” —Gabrielle Bernstein
“You can ask for a sign to guide you toward anything you desire,” she says. “If you’re unsure about a decision, or you simply want to know you’re on the right track, ask for a sign.”
2. Get clear on what your sign will be
There are so many ways, shapes, and forms that signs from the universe can show up in your life. “Maybe you think of an animal or a song or a book title,” Bernstein says. “Often, people receive signs as numbers in sequence, like 1111 or 444. Or, maybe your sign is a fragrance or a name. In The Universe Has Your Back, I tell a story about how I chose my sign, which is an owl. Just let whatever comes to your mind become your sign. Let it come to you naturally and commit to what you hear.” So, basically, a sign can be anything you decide so long as, intuitively, it feels good.
3. Specify by when you’d like to receive the sign
Next, Bernstein recommends assigning a deadline to the universe as far as the delivery of your sign. Again, clarity is key here and will help you get the clearest answer in return. To that point, Bernstein has a specific formula for how she suggests communicating the deadline with the universe: “Thank you, universe, for showing me my sign of ____ within 24 hours if ____ is right for me.”
4. Be patient
The next and probably the most challenging step, is to be patient and just chill out and wait for your sign. “Don’t try to manipulate situations so that you see your sign,” Bernstein writes in her latest book, Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. “In fact, just forget about it, and focus on feeling good. Let the universe lead the way.”
5. Tune into how you feel when you receive the sign
Let’s say the universe delivers your sign, leading you to let out a big sigh of relief and perhaps even do a happy dance. Then, suddenly, those familiar feelings of uncertainty bubble up again. Then what? Bernstein recommends introspecting inward when this happens. “The greatest way to stay connected with what your sign means and the guidance it offers is to tune in to how you feel when you receive it,” she says. “If you receive a sign that makes you feel connected and aligned, and you feel that you’re receiving an intuitive message to move forward, don’t second-guess it. Trust that guidance.”
What does that mean if I never receive my sign?
So, you asked for a sign, got clear on what the sign would be, gave it a deadline, then…all you got were crickets. Now what? According to Bernstein, not getting a sign is a sign in and of itself. If, for example, you asked for a sign to know if you’re in the right romantic relationship for you and yet, you didn’t hear squat from the universe, that’s a sign that signals a “no.”
“Take this direction seriously,” Bernstein writes in Super Attractor. “I’m not saying that you break up with your partner overnight. But I am suggesting that you look more closely at the fundamental issues that need to be resolved.” The caveat though, says Bernstein, is that we all have free will to do as we please—sign or no sign. The little bread crumbs from the universe are just meant to give us some direction along the way.
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