…continued from Becoming Aware 1:4 – Clean Sweep Your Mind
Your Quiet Voice
Once you start clearing your mind of your nagging mind questions and storing them away, you will begin to be ready to identify your quiet voice. It may have been so quiet over the years that it has become lost. But it wants you to discover it, nurture it, bring it back to life. It needs you, and you need it. For without this voice we become stuck in our bodies, automatons, out of touch with both our inner and outer worlds. This voice is the thread that connects us to ourselves and to the world. Without it, we are cut off.
Many of us have been taught to mind a different voice—the voice that is in our heads, the voice that is judgmental and scared. Perhaps it is the voice of your father, a teacher, or a priest. Most likely your voice has become an amalgam of many others. Chances are it is restrictive, unfeeling, uncaring, concerned about dire consequences, an echo of past experiences, a representation of old attitudes that are not organic to you but adopted from others.
Throughout this process we will work toward squashing the voices that don’t belong to you. We will identify them and exorcise the ones that hold you back, that muffle your true voice, that interfere with your unique expression. Some of these voices are cunning and will at first seem to belong to you, or you’ll find that you’ve become so attached to some that you’re unwilling to let them go. But slowly, over time, if you follow the suggestions here, you will clear your mind, open your heart, and return to yourself.
My friend Ruth had a voice inside pushing her to pursue her Ph.D. She struggled for years on this course, convincing herself that she must be “less than” other people on the same track because it was taking longer than “normal” and she wasn’t having any fun. She blamed herself, unable to see that getting her Ph.D. was not her vision at all but one that had been thrust upon her by her parents. Her father has a doctorate in physics, her mother, a master’s in modern dance, and they encouraged Ruth in many different ways to follow their lead. Ruth remembers her mother telling her at sixteen, when she felt awkward in social situations, not to worry, that “it will be so much better when you get to graduate school.” It was always assumed she would go.
Ruth’s discontentment and unease with higher learning had nothing to do with her capabilities or intelligence. She was always a good student. She is bright, energetic, and curious. And her academic achievements—she has a master’s in German literature and was well along on the doctorate road—confirmed her parents’ wishes for her and convinced her that her fate was academia. This idea was further entrenched when she met her husband. His vision of them as a couple only served to solidify the course she was on. He saw them as parallel intellectual companions—professors teaching their respective courses, discussing their academic pursuits, and moving along together toward similar goals.
It wasn’t that any of these people meant badly. They all thought they were supporting Ruth in what she wanted. But, as she now says, “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean it is what you should be doing. In fact, it might be better to pursue something that you might not be so good at but that fulfills you more emotionally.”
One day after talking it over with many people whom she trusted and loved, and after working through many of the issues associated with this pursuit, Ruth decided to quit her Ph.D. program. Today she is happier than ever working at a job she loves that affords her time to express herself artistically in dance and knitting. She discovered that, though she was smart academically, expressing herself creatively satisfied her on a much deeper, spiritual level. Had she continued to listen to the voices that weren’t her own she might still be struggling toward someone else’s goal, never able to express her unique and impressive talents.
Ruth’s decision to leave academia did not mean she had to leave her family—she is still happily married to her husband and expecting a child this year. When we reject someone else’s vision for us, it does not mean that we have to reject that someone. In fact, listening to ourselves and following our heart usually serves to bring us closer to others.
Take a few minutes now and think about where you are in your life, where you want to be, and whose dream you are living. No need to do anything yet. Maybe you have your dream job, maybe you practice a craft that fulfills you, or maybe you haven’t even a clue about what you might enjoy doing. In any case, the first step in getting to know yourself better and to know what moves and enriches you is noticing that you want to go deeper into yourself and get to the true you. No need to expect anything more of yourself right now. This awareness is enough.
One valuable activity that you will be encouraged to do throughout this process is writing things down. This helps to get rid of the surface noise, get to the crux of things, and achieve heightened awareness. Just as a blind person must touch objects to “see” them, even after he is given back his sight, so we must “touch” our thoughts and feelings to understand them. Writing is a powerful way to get in touch with and see our inner self.
So begin to write your history and what you hope to gain from this process. Why are you now willing to look at your life? Are you willing to look? Write about whatever is currently in the forefront of your mind, how you feel about where you are right now in your life, what you might like to change in your life, and your fears about all of it. Try not to edit yourself
as you go along. No one else need read what you write. This is for your eyes only. Trust in yourself, in the process, and attempt to be honest. As long as you are willing—not perfect, just willing—you have all that is necessary to get started. Think about being available for yourself and your life. Your world will never be the same again—it will be better.
Your Quiet Corner Place
Since you will be writing a lot as you progress on this quest of finding your own voice, you may want to dedicate a special notebook and pen for these exercises. You might also want to dedicate a drawer or shelf for keeping all the various paraphernalia that you accumulate on this journey. There won’t be an enormous quantity of things, as we try on this path to be free of clutter, but you’ll gather a few things that will relate to your experience and that you will need for the suggested exercises. Assigning a special Quiet Corner place will simply confirm your commitment and honor your dedication to your spiritual path.
To be continued…