Dear Integral Meditators,
What’s your relationship to the voices that you find chatting away in your head? The article below offers four ways of becoming more conscious of your inner conversation, and getting it working for rather than against you!
In the spirit of your inner voice,
Four ways of working with your inner voice
“Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Your ‘inner voice’ refers to the inner conversation that you are having with yourself in your head during the day. Sometimes this voice can be critical, sometimes it can be supportive. For many of us it can be predominantly a source of insecurity and dis-ease, rather than support. The purpose of working with your ‘inner voice’ mindfully in the ways described below is to help transform it from a potential or actual weakness into a source of strength.
Listening with curiosity – This first exercise is simply observing the voices and conversation you are having in your head. Often when the conversation is taking place we are very identified with the voices, and we often take it very seriously. The idea here is to listen with curiosity, and a sense of detachment and lightness. You’ll notice that there are some ‘positive’ voices, and some kind of ‘negative’ voices. You want to greet both with a little bit of humour and lightness. You are also trying to gently separate your ‘I’ or sense of self from the voices. You aren’t trying to change of ‘fix’ the voice, just listen inquisitively and lightly.
Talking back wisely – Method two is to listen to your inner dialogue and to ‘talk back’, gently directing the conversation in a positive way. For example, if your voices are being critical toward you about a mistake or mis-judgment that you made, you can gently point out the reasons why you can be a bit easier and less judgmental on yourself. If you notice that your inner voices are talking about a work project, you can consciously look for and bring in the aspects of the project that are going well, or that you can feel good about. Here you are a participant in the conversation, and gently encouraging it to go in a direction that serves you!
– This third ‘mindful position’ is to gently encourage the conversation to reduce and ‘quieten down’. You can try gently communicating to yourself and your inner voices that (for the time you are doing this exercise) there really is no need to process or ‘fix’ any of your problems or challenges. Give yourself full permission
to relax and think less. You can take as an anchor for your attention your breathing, or one of your senses, and just gently encourage your inner voices to settle down and rest for a while.
Your ‘still small voice within’ – In this final exercise, you listen a bit deeper, beneath the loud chatter of your everyday mind. What you are looking for is a quieter voice within you coming from a deeper level of your consciousness. Its nature is to be kind, and quiet, strong and wise. It’s easily drowned out by the louder voices of the everyday mind, which is why you need to listen for it more closely, in a relaxed frame of mind.
If you like you can even give your ‘still small voice’ a form to key into. For example, you can visualize it as a small candle flame (symbolizing the wisdom of your deeper inner voice) in your heart centre, and focus on it as you meditate, listening to any message that may arise from it. Or you can even visualize it as a person next to you, perhaps a wise man or woman that you can ask questions to about dilemmas that you face.
You can do the above four exercises individually, by themselves. Alternatively you could do them one after the other, for example in a twenty minute meditation you could do each for five minutes, one after the other.
© Toby Ouvry 2018
, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com