For a long time I never even knew my heart had a voice.
I was too busy to spend time in stillness. Life was too noisy for me to be able to hear and if I could hear, I was sure I’d have listened. I preferred distractions like entertainment—anything that kept me from being alone with my thoughts.
The way my thoughts would haunt me when I paid them any attention made me think this was not a nice place to be, so for a long time I avoided it.
It was only after a regular meditation practice and many retreats later that I’ve adjusted to stillness, silence and being alone with myself. Now I can see the benefits this has brought.
In this stillness, I began to hear things. I figured that either I was going mad or I’d found my inner voice!
I guess it had been there the whole time, probably saying the same stuff, it’s just that I’d never given myself the opportunity to hear it, much less listen to its wisdom.
Our inner voice—our intuition—just knows.
Decisions that come from the heart and the very core of who you are and what you want can be overridden by the logic and expectations that can preside in our heads. What will people think? What if it’s wrong? What if I can’t do it? All of those lenses that we so often put across our thoughts suddenly are replaced with an inner knowing, beyond thought, beyond logic.
It feels so right it can’t be wrong. If it’s in sync with our deepest desires and comes from our hearts, then generally it’s not wrong.
This awakening led me to leave my corporate career, train to be a yoga teacher and write a book on health and wellness. I also separated from my long term boyfriend and came out of the closet.
Finally, I was becoming my authentic self and living according to who I truly was and what I wanted in life.
At last, I knew what that was and who I was.
Whilst our head is busy lost in thousands of thoughts a day, our heart has been sitting back, taking it all in, watching and waiting. It knows and holds within our deepest secrets. Let’s face it, our mind is the same entity that produces thoughts like “how can you tell if a fish is asleep?” and makes us dream of unicorns chasing us through sunflower fields. It is our mind that believes we’d be a better person if we could just loose a few pounds.
So often we live our lives according to what makes sense in our head because we don’t hear the other side to the story, we don’t listen to our heart.
So how can we tap into this underused resource and hear what it has to say?
The messages your heart has for you are not on Facebook feeds, TV programs, emails or nights at the pub. We actually have to stop what we’re doing, find space in our schedules and escape from the busyness of daily life to begin to understand what’s going on within. We live much of our lives on the outside these days, particularly with our 24/7 connection and the need to be constantly entertained. Pausing from this is the first step that leads to us finding the space to listen.
2. Slow down to speed up.
We don’t have to maximize every second of the day with productive tasks, ticking things off our to do list. If we slow down and make space in our day to be alone, be still and stop, we find that our day will run better, hence things take less time and we are in fact speeding up by slowing down.
If we have clarity over our decisions, then we make the right one. We spend less time agonising over the options, we solve problems quicker and we spend less time having to redo stuff because we get it right the first time. Not to mention we will have the energy to accomplish more and move through our day with the efficiency of someone in control.
If we do find time to rest and pause from our busy lives generally this still involves doing. Relaxing is still an activity. If we are watching TV, reading a magazine or chatting to a friend we are still subjecting our minds to thoughts that need to be processed, forming opinions, etc. Basically, having to think.
Whilst we may take time out, taking time to be still is different. It means less doing and more being. It’s only when we quiet the mind we begin to hear our inner voice. When we still our minds through meditation and mindfulness, this is when the rubber really hits the road.
To do this, we have to learn the art of doing nothing and quiet the mind.
“The quieter we become, the more we can hear” ~ Ram Dass
4. Be alone.
It comes from deep within you. It is your voice so it makes sense that you’ll not be able to listen when deep in conversation with friends or comparing notes. We often fear being alone in today’s society, we fear boredom or we try to escape our thoughts, our problems and our worries. Our minds can throw some ugly things at us sometimes and often when we’re alone we notice more, including things from the past we’d hoped we’d forgotten! It’s so much easier to turn on the radio or call a friend than to be alone with our thoughts but facing this and learning to make peace with it, is the path to discovering our true self, our true potential and ultimately, true happiness.
5. Be patient.
Your heart is not going to open up as soon as you stop for a second and say “Thank god you’re here, where have you been? I have so much to tell you!”
You may spend many hours alone in stillness and hear nothing or worse yet, still be confronted with the negative thoughts you’ve spent the past years trying to escape from. This is the beginning of the path. Remember, if it’s a path we’ve not walked along for a while, it’s likely to be overgrown and difficult. The more often we walk it, the easier it becomes as we make a trail through the undergrowth and it becomes easier to follow.
If we’re training for a marathon and have not run before, we wouldn’t expect to be fit after one session at the gym. Like everything, this requires regular practice and patience with yourself.
It’s worth it.
Author: Jess Stuart
Apprentice Editor: Corinne Milentijevic / Editor: Renée Picard
Image: andrea floris/Flickr