Updated: Jan 18, 2021
LISTENING TO MY INNER VOICE
Over the years I’ve heard the phrase “be yourself” or “be true to yourself” on what seems to be constant replay. And, though it sounds nice, I found myself struggling with the meaning of these sayings:
How is one supposed to be themselves in a world full of so much noise?
I believe that each person is surrounded with unique noise, the experience changing from person to person. For me personally, this noise manifested as social, cultural, and self-imposed expectations coupled with an unresolved acknowledgment of trauma. For other people, this noise experience can take hold through religion, social media, or perhaps even stored memories and experiences. My question is:
How is someone supposed to be themselves or know themselves when they are surrounded with constant noise?
The choices you make, the automatic behaviors and habits, the ego, all of these are things that can show up in your life, adding to the noise that surrounds you.
But, as I began to dive into my life experience at a deeper level, meditation became a powerful tool, something I used to examine myself and my actions. I leveraged its power to become a keen observer of myself and my actions. Through this practice I realized that a lot of my actions were hard-wired patterns of behavior, ones that often revolved around other people. I found myself suddenly aware of my need to be constantly people pleasing. I recognized when I volunteered to help others with their problems so I could distract myself from my own. I painfully watched myself caring for others to the point of my own detriment. All of these habits, however, only became apparent when I sat with myself daily in silence. Only in moments of meditation did these specific patterns of behavior begin to unravel.
"The only way to shut down the external noise and listen to my inner voice was to sit in silence."
A lot of people have this perception that you have to quiet the mind to meditate and, frankly, that isn’t true. Meditation is about being with yourself and allowing for all things. For some, that may be being void of thought. For others, it may mean creating a time to learn about themselves or gain perspective.
Personally, my mind was always naturally quiet. I never had a mind that constantly raced or dwelled on circumstances. Initially, people told me that maybe my mind was blank because I was so numb to life. Now I know that that is simply how I am. I don’t need to concentrate on a word or my breath to be in the silence. I simply just close my eyes and sit.
Meditation is a tool that allows me to see myself. When I meditate, I begin to invite in the thoughts, actions, and experiences of my life, simply sitting with them as an observer free of judgment, allowing myself to be my own guide to learn of my habits and behavior or even to learn what is next with a road map of what to create. Through this practice, I’ve been able to be this witness or neutral observer of myself seeing patterns of behavior. Each day I allow this process to unfold naturally without pushing or pulling anything away. I simply allow whatever shows up to show up.
Now, after about forty minutes of daily meditation for two years, I am able to sit and just be with myself, completely void of thoughts without having to invite unraveling of patterns or actively seek out what is next. But when these thoughts do occur I have learned to let these thoughts come my way, listen, and then simply return to being in the silence. This practice has made me turn more inward, so much so that silence has become golden. Now, when I am surrounded by actual noise, both literal and conceptual, I immediately feel the need to find quiet...and myself...again.