Friday, February 12, 2010

What Happens When the Voices Stop?

Part of my life experience was helping in hospitals where I encountered my share of patients who heard voices. We were trained to deal gently with these individuals until someone with more expertise could be called. Yet, I always thought of these individuals as outside the confines of normal society until recently. Now I'm hearing my own inner voices. Nope, I'm not losing it, but rather becoming aware of something that's been going on for a long time and I think others may experience.

How did I start hearing voices? Well, our study of greatness this year focuses on the inner processes that many individuals experience in order to fully understand who they are and what they bring to their part of the world. I'm trying many different practices that unveil our inner world. Elementary to many of these practices is slowing down long enough to be aware of all the thoughts flying through our heads. So, I tried slowing down.

I've heard practitioners offer the analogy of sitting beside a river (of your thoughts) and just calmly watching them drift by without judgement or action. Initially when I tried this I was aware that my thoughts don't drift. They are like level four rapids. Still that didn't stop me from diving in to fix or judge them whenever and wherever I felt like it. Seemed like I couldn't stop myself.

After about four days of being aware of this rushing river I started getting a better handle on it and, though I dove in a lot, it wasn't quite as often. I learned to notice the judgements on myself and others, the "shoulds," "oughts," and "have tos," that rippled by with all the other thoughts.

Then after about a week and a half, I noticed a silence in my head. No judgements, to dos, or lists to tackle, just a focus on what I was doing. Oh, it didn't last long since I had to dissect the silence, judge it and categorize it, but it was there. And then I felt a wonderful peace because that moment was just mine. I guess for that moment the voices stopped. So, I'm gonna sit by this river a little longer and see what else happens.