I was very confused about this for a long time. I went on vacation with my partner and took a book which talked about this. I almost broke up with her, not based on too much of anything, but some inner voices.
A few years later I was instructed to be silent during a retreat. Then I had the opportunity to really see my inner voice. Many people around me were not silent. They could say anything to me, knowing I was in silence. I could not express myself verbally, and the voices just got louder and louder in my head.
Finally, I saw clearly how negative and judgmental the voices were. I was really fast to judge myself and every person I encountered, without exception. The stories I created!
I suspect this was going on a long time, but talking distracted me from seeing it clearly. I believe others let me get away with it for a long time because they thought I was “intelligent”. As I began to see this ugly pattern, I had questions for myself. Also, I began to learn Skillful Means could provide some guidance to lessen this suffering.
Where did this negativity come from?
My answer: I have no idea really. I guess I could blame some people (sorry about that, Mom!).
Skillful Means answer: It came from past repeating patterns and habits within me.
When did it start?
My answer: Not sure exactly. I guess I could blame some people.
Skillful Means answer: Truly, not so important, and probably impossible to answer.
Is everyone’s experience like this?
My answer: Who knows? I only know I am miserable.
Skillful Means answer: We all have our own slightly different version of how we create suffering in our lives.
My answer today: Many people share with me how negative those inner voices are, all a little different, but pretty much not so nice.
What to do?
People told me I did not have to listen to these voices. OK, but if those voices are really all I hear, how can I avoid listening? What do I use as a compass to make decisions, to react, to be in the world? I mean, what else is there?!
I dare say the gunman (gun-boy) in Newtown might have felt this way too.
Very surprisingly, I found the answer in my body.
With the help and guidance of skilled teachers, I became more aware of body and breath. At first I learned to cultivate a balanced breath (breathing through nose and mouth, tip of the tongue on the upper palate), then an even (breathe a little deeper, inhale length = exhale length) and soft breath. Kum Nye Yoga helped me discover my body using the breath and movement. EVERYTHING began to change. (To learn more read Kum Nye Tibetan Yoga or even better take a meditation or Kum Nye class.)
I experienced physiological changes. My blood pressure and pulse rates went down. Stress hormones in my blood went down. I lost weight. I stopped getting colds several times a year. But something else much more important happened.
The negative thoughts slowed down. Sometimes they weren’t even there. I began to feel my body. In any given moment I could feel my feet, my genitals, my belly, solar plexus, heart, throat, head. I experienced being a whole person again. I discovered THERE IS MORE TO ME THAN MY THOUGHTS! Oh. Right. There is a lot more.
Eventually I learned to feel not only my own being, but also what was happening with other people, in situations, in many different environments. Oh my gosh, there was SO much more information upon which to base my actions, decisions, even my mood.
Another big plus – things got better, there was far less conflict in my life. I discovered breath and body awareness provided GOOD, reliable information I could depend on to make genuinely better decisions. I FEEL better and get better results.
I have learned to LOVE life living this way. Not just survive, but to LOVE and THRIVE. Do I sometimes still have negative thoughts? Every day. Do I know what to do to get out of this pattern? Yes.
What happens when I learn to apply this embodied way of being consistently to business? Well, finally I have a real business, with many incredible magical moments along the way.
Who would have guessed?
Interested in getting a taste of breath awareness? Watch this 5 minute video.
Let me hear from you. What is your experience of the inner voice?