Get rid of the voices that are within you
and soon you will be surprised
to hear a still, small voice
you have never heard before...
then a sudden recognition that it is your voice.
There is so much noise inside and outside of our heads, that it is often difficult to hear and make space for the still, small voice within. This is a culture full of stimulus and sounds from TV, radio, Spotify, podcasts, social media, texting, chatting, or spending time in loud busy places like gyms, bars, and restaurants.
There is usually a similar noise level within our heads as well; there are voices that are critical and judgmental of ourselves and others or that are playing over conversations that happened or rehearsing conversations that may happen. These voices feel like our own, yet are composites of things we heard and absorbed from parents and others. Meditation teachers have called this the Monkey Mind, as it tends to leap from thought to thought, and we can get caught up in its antics, identifying fully with it.
Yet we are more than our minds and its thoughts. There is another voice that in volume can't compete with the loud chattering in our heads. It is the authentic voice, the voice of intuition, the voice that is the real you, beneath the layers of voices that have built up over the years in your mind.
Especially at first, it requires effort and quieting the mind to hear that voice, and may be difficult to not only hear but to recognize as genuinely yours. It may not speak in an actual voice but may be a "gut feeling" or sensation that communicates wordlessly with you. The more you pay attention to it, the more attuned you will become to your true self!
We don't receive wisdom;
we must discover it for ourselves
after a journey that no one
can take for us
or spare us.
- Marcel Proust
Our culture abounds with experts: in the arena of the inner world, there are spiritual and psychological teachers, self-help books, TED talks, webinars and workshops. They often suggest that you can have the life you desire if you follow their wisdom and advice. There is certainly an allure to the hint or implication of a magic wand that will solve your problems!
In fact, there is valuable guidance and information to be gleaned from all of the above resources. Yet the journey is still uniquely yours. Just as you have a fingerprint that is not duplicated, so the journey to wisdom and to fully inhabiting your own life is also unique. Certainly there are templates and models of growth and change that are universal. Yet, the unique combination of nature and nurture that makes you YOU, also means that your path to self-discovery and wisdom also has its own healing symbols, twists and turns, your own demons to face, as well as making peace with yourself, your life and others in a way that resonates with who you are.
Psychotherapy ( and therapists), in the best of circumstances, will NOT tell you what to do! Therapy will provide you with a safe place to be curious and honest about your life, your inner world and your path. The therapist can help you learn more about yourself, your patterns, your hopes and desires as well as the obstacles that stand in your way. But the transformative process and path to wisdom is uniquely yours!
If you would like help exploring your path to wisdom
call me for a phone consultation
Once the search is in progress,
Something will be found.
- Oblique Strategies
It takes courage to embark on an inner exploration when you feel unhappy, depressed or unsatisfied with your life. There is the temptation, and you may have tried these "solutions," to more actively distract yourself, attempting to find happiness or meaning in more activity, travel, substances, sex, dating, or purchases. All of these activities in and of themselves are enjoyable and not in themselves harmful; however when they are used to fill up a void they will inevitably leave you feeling empty and/or become compulsions over time.
Many years ago Ram Dass said "wherever you go, there you are." Basically, you can run but not hide from yourself! Ultimately you may be called to begin an inner journey or exploration, to begin the search with no clear path to follow and only a hazy idea of what you hope to find and of what you may actually find.
I sometimes think of it as setting out in the jungle with a machete, having to make a path out of seeming no path, following your gut, your instinct about which direction to go in. It is a practice of trust or faith, that if you enter your inner world there will be signposts and guidance from within if you listen carefully. If you initiate the search and are curious and interested, you will definitely find something or some things: there may be painful feelings that were buried or semi-buried and there will also likely be treasure that you buried to protect or keep safe in the distant past.
To begin simply take the first step, begin the search. This can take many forms from journaling, reading, spiritual work, psychotherapy, self-help groups. The most important thing is to do something, to begin somehwere and trust that something of value will be found!
Hold fast to dreams,
for if dreams die, life is
a broken-winged bird
that cannot fly.
~ Langston Hughes
Dreams are many things including: the night visitations that we may or may not remember, and that are symbolic messages from our unconscious mind; the ideas and hopes of how we would like to live, whether or not we believe we can really achieve or be this; and the ideas and hopes we may have about what this country and the world could be - free of hunger, war, hate and violence of all kinds. John Lennon's iconic line comes to mind: "you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
At times it can be extremely challenging to hold onto your consciously held dreams- the personal ones after disappointment or loss as well as your dreams for your community or the world in times of uncertainty, danger and war or threats of war. Yet these dreams provide guidance, inspiration and direction for the next step, for what action is called for to move toward bringing your dreams to fruition.
Similarly, dreams while sleeping are messages from your inner world, from your unconscious mind, providing insight and guidance in an even deeper way than your conscious dreams can. Dreams can be difficult to decipher at times, but if you can get into the feeling of the dream, and the personal meaning of the symbols, profound insight and guidance, as well as a deep understanding of your life in the moment, is provided to you!
Following your dreams, keeping them alive, living your dreams, is an essential part of a life well lived. What are you dreaming?
If you would like help keeping your dreams alive,
or understanding them, call me for a phone consultation!l
The knowledge of the heart is in no book
and is not to be found
in the mouth of any teacher,
but grows out of you
like the green seed
from the dark earth.
When we use the word "think" or "knowledge" we imagine a mental process, one that is rational and logical. This kind of head thinking is generally what we consciously use to see, define and relate to the world around us.
However, there is another kind of thinking, called "heart thinking," described by Jalaja Bonheim in her most recent book The Sacred Ego. Heart thinking means shifting our focus to our heart and asking it what it desires, what it feels, what it knows, and then being guided by its knowledge and wisdom. Our thinking mind ceases to be the master and begins to function in service to the heart.
As you read this, you may be skeptical or have a hard time imagining that the heart truly knows what's best for you, or you may feel anxious at the idea of relinquishing the control of your mind to your heart.
Neuroscience has recently discovered that the heart has its own independent nervous system, known as "the brain in the heart." There are at least 40,000 neurons in the heart, and it communicates with the brain and rest of the body neurologically, biochemically and biophysically, making it a little brain in its own right.The heart's electromagnetic field is the most powerful in the body, 5000 times that of the brain (The Heartmath Solution).
Although Jung's quote is much more poetic and predates neuroscience, he intuited what is now proven by neuroscience: the heart has its own actual wisdom which knows in a way that is deeper and more authentic than our mind's ability to think on its own.
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley