“He is really handsome and so outgoing and fun to be around. I wonder if he likes me too? Wow, we could have a lot of fun together! Wait a minute, he has children the same age as me. If we liked each other, how would that work? Would I move in with him, would he move in with us. Would my children have to change school districts? What happens after we are together and married if our children don’t like each other or we raise them differently? We would likely get divorced. What then would even be the point of dating somebody who has children? It would end in divorce. Really? Now we are thinking about divorce?”
That was the internal dialogue a friend of mine shared with me over dinner a few days back. She had recently taken a road trip and had been driving for some time when she became aware that those thoughts were running through her head. She said she started laughing out loud when she became aware of these thoughts, as the man she had been thinking about dating and divorcing was a casual work acquaintance and somebody she had never shared anything other than brief, business oriented conversations with. Such though, are the the games our mind plays with us. Our mind chatter is incessant. It does not even choose a side, opting instead to argue any position. It is a constant. The conversations of course aren’t always as funny as this one and are often quite disturbing. They keep us pre-occupied on our drives, keep us from concentrating on a movie we really wanted to pay attention to, keep us up at night and keep us from experiencing our life in the moment.
“He has not answered my text message. If he loved me, he would have already answered. I don’t seem very important to him. Maybe he is with somebody else, maybe he is planning on leaving me.” Imagine if those thoughts had occupied your day and then your partner comes home from work. What will his reception be? What will the energy be in the home the rest of the evening. Yet it is those patterns that play out in our heads, homes, work and relationships everyday.
By becoming aware of these voices inside of our head, we can start taking a small step back and gaining a little clarity. Who is this voice? Who is it that can hear this voice? It is going on inside of our head, we can clearly hear it, we can feel the emotions the voice conjures up, but who is hearing the voice? Many of us think that we are the voice inside of our head. We are so clearly identified with this voice, that we think that is who we are. We may think that the jealous, angry or bitter voice is not who we are. We think we are the voice that sounds more positive. The voice that sounds patient and loving and kind, maybe that is who we are. If you can hear it, no matter the sound of the voice, it is still not who you truly are. You are the one that can hear the voice. You are the observer behind the voice. You are the silent one, watching the emotions flare up, noticing feelings, hearing that voice. Pure consciousness.
Why do we have this incessant voice going on inside of us to begin with? This voice is our mind trying to protect us from our world. We walk around, wanting to be happy and avoiding anything uncomfortable. We want others to like us, we want to be able to speak our truth, yet not offend anybody, we want to get along with everybody, we want all things positive and good in life and not have anything painful or difficult happen to us. It is our mind that has been given the responsibility to keep us comfortable at all times. It is an impossible task. Our mind cannot deliver that desire, yet it tries its hardest to keep us from feeling discomfort. That is why our mind is constantly running, playing out scenarios and switching positions. All in an effort to control and maintain equilibrium.
The spiritual journey begins by becoming aware of this voice, to create a separation of this voice from the “I am”. Once we are able to sense the silent observer behind that voice, we are on our way to transcend our difficulties and able to step into our healing journey. The silent observer inside each one of us has no need to control. It is in that infinite consciousness that our wisdom, inner truth and life purpose resides. It is from this center that we can create the life that we dream of and the relationships we ache for.
To start becoming aware of that voice and the impact it has on your life, it can be helpful to personify it. To see it as a separate being outside of you. I like to picture that voice driving in the car next to me or laying in bed with me at night. By doing so, you can start noticing its negativity and controlling nature. Imagine if you had a friend that talked to you the way this voice talks to you. Would you not send this friend on her merry way? Yet we listen to this voice, we take its advice and we react to people, places and things based on this advice. How many times has this voice led you wrong? How many times have the stories you told yourself turned out to be wrong?
I was at a seven day silent meditation retreat last summer. At this retreat we had to observe absolute silence. We could not talk to other participants even during our community meals. As we sat silently across from each other, I realized how diligently my mind was trying to find it’s balance. “This person is not looking at me. She is avoiding eye contact. Maybe she does not like me. How could she not like me, she does not even know me. We have not even talked. Of course she likes me. Why would she not?” This is our mind at work all day long. Spending seven days in silence, it became very clear how much energy we spend writing stories and trying to control our life with our mind. Always looking for a comfortable place to rest.
I encourage you to spend even just 15 minutes each day becoming conscious of the voice inside your head. It can be easiest to notice this voice while taking a shower or on a drive with the radio turned off. As you notice this voice, start becoming aware of the consciousness that is listening to this voice. That is the beginning of your awakening. That is the first step into a new way of being in this world.