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Four ways of working with your inner voice

“Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

Four ways of working with your inner voice

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!

Talking less – 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.

Happy listening!​

© 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

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Going Beyond the “Do This” and “Do That” Mentality

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article is one that I wrote back in 2011, before I had any kind of mailing list. When I re-read it today it really made me stop and think, then it made me stop thinking for a while, and then I started thinking again, but thinking better. I hope it does that for you too.

The upcoming mind of ease classes will be full of this type of practical reflection.

Yours in the spirit  of  mindful creativity in the moment,


Upcoming Courses at Integral Meditation Asia in October:

Sunday October 19th – Mindfulness and Meditation For Creating a Mind of Ease, Relaxed Concentration and Positive Intention

 Launches 24th October – The Meditation for Creating a Mind of Ease Online Course

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Going Beyond the “Do This” and “Do That” Mentality 

My daughter has just turned six, and one of the things that I have noticed about our relationship recently is that it has been possible for me to start changing my relationship to her from a lot of “do this” and “do that” instructions to a much more process based “Why don’t you try this?” or “What will happen if you think about it this way?” Her gradual increase in age and maturity, combined with my own gradual maturing as a parent has allowed our relationship to evolve from being somewhat dictatorial to much more co-creative.

How we often use the “do this / do that” mentality with regard to the way we treat ourselves
One of the things that has struck me when thinking about the changes in my relationship to my daughter is how often we get caught up in a “do this” and “do that” relationship to ourself. “Instead of approaching situations and challenges in our life with an open, flexible and enquiring mind, often we will simply react in a pre-programmed way, based around our past experience. Internally we order ourselves around with no real sensitivity to what is actually happening and this kills our ability to respond authentically and creatively.
For example I may find myself mentally punishing myself for not having made more effective use of my time during the day. The conversation goes something like:
“You should not have got sidetracked by this, you should not have wasted time doing that, you don’t deserve to relax this evening because you have not achieved what you wanted…” the instructions and judgments go on and on…

What can we replace the Do this/do that mentality with?

One of the things that we are trying to create through a meditation practice is enough self-awareness  to be able to respond to our immediate circumstances as they are, without projecting judgments or old values onto them. What we are trying to do is replace the automatic “do this” and “do that” voice of our judgments and past mental programs with questions like:
“What is this situation showing me or offering to me?”
“What are the real emotions behind what is being said here?”
“What is the most creative thing I can do in this situation?”
“What is my most authentic response to what is happening here?
By bringing questions such as these to the forefront of our mind in our daily life we can start to over ride the automatic “do this” and “do that” orders coming from our impulsively critical mind and start to live a life that involves more freedom, as well as more authenticity and more happiness.

An awareness exercise:
The art of going beyond our “do this” and “do that” mentality lies in replacing these inner orders with a question that stimulates our enquiring mind and creativity. The next time you can hear and feel your old judgments barking orders at you as you try and cope with a life challenge, consciously place this question in the centre of your awareness:
 “What is this situation helping me to see and learn?” 
Try and stay with this question for a few minutes and observe the creative ideas that start to emerge from the inner space that the question allows.

Related article: You Always Have a Choice

© Toby Ouvry 2014, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website