There’s this voice in my head that I hear all the time. Do you hear an inner voice? Am I alone on this one?
A quick Google informs me that the voice I hear might be: 1) my internal dialogue, 2) an auditory hallucination, 3) schizophrenia, 4) a brain disorder, 5) my intuition, or 6) a transmission from the mother ship.
I’ve asked a few people if they hear a voice, I’ve been met with squinty stares (my inner voice tells me they’re thinking I might be a Category “3”). Actually, it’s not unusual at all for people to hear their own voice (or maybe the voice of Morgan Freeman) when reading a book. When I read a book, it’s my inner voice I hear, word-for-word, which makes reading a very slow process for me. Some people report that they hear the voices of their parents, or caretakers, speaking to them as if they were still young and in need of guidance. And yet, others hear no voice at all.
I thought everyone had this inner voice, and I’m finding it fascinating that this might not be the case. Our human brains are so complex, our world is so busy with information, so who knows? Maybe I’m just picking up on the waves of all these cell phones around me.
Oh, and I hear music in my head too. Ranging from the theme song from Indiana Jones, which I hear when I’m dodging around loaded carts at the grocery store; or the Hawaii Five-O theme song . . . I haven’t figured out the connection for that one yet, it’s like stumbling upon some 70’s radio station, I catch the rift and see the wave in my mind, and it’s gone. Simon and Garfunkel sing “slow down you move too fast, you got to make the morning last” to me when my mornings are frenetic. All in all, I’m glad to report that my inner playlist is a top 10 of pretty peppy songs, like the “Safety Dance” complete with visions of dancers twirling in the English countryside, which I hear when I’m feeling particularly free and alive; and, REM’s “It’s the End of the World” which comes in when I read the news.
I’ve had many conversations with my inner voice, ranging from best parenting practices, to the meaning of life. Sometimes the responses are deeply intelligent, and other times it can’t be bothered to return my calls, especially if I ask the same question over and over, hoping to hear a different answer. I’ve asked my inner voice for answers to some terrifically important questions, and received answers that would at first brush seem like a horrible miscommunication, but would actually turn out to be quite divine in hindsight. Like the time my father-in-law was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack on the tennis court (he finished his game, by the way). I asked “Will he be ok?” and the voice replied, “Yes, he’ll be just fine.” Two days later, after hearing that my father-in-law had died, I felt deeply embarrassed, I’d trusted my inner voice and had been happy believing that a full recovery was in progress; I felt betrayed and confronted the voice.
“But you said he’d be FINE, and he’s dead.”
And the voice replied lightly, “I told you he’d be just fine. He IS fine. Better than ever, in fact!”
I began to find a deep respect for my inner voice, it had a great sense of humor, it was direct; and evidently it never lied, it just had a different perspective than I did.
We could have continued like this, my inner voice and I. But that wouldn’t make for much of a story, now would it? As chance would have it, earlier this year, I enrolled in a course to become a certified meditation teacher. My inner voice, my life, and my perceptions were about to change significantly.
The meditation course I’m enrolled in has been incredibly intense; my teacher likens the experience to a masters program. The time, effort and dedication to my own practice deepened as I learned that meditation changes one’s brain, and ultimately, one’s experiences in life. I now meditate regularly every day, going from the random 10 minutes a few times each week, to sitting for 30 minutes twice a day, once in the morning, and again in the afternoon. At first, I’d experience incredible frustration during my sits, I’d either fall asleep, or I’d be so distracted I’d have to get up and write long lists of randomness that kept my mind busy. These were both normal experiences for a body and mind that had been overly stressed and exhausted. Little by little, however, I began to notice positive changes, especially with my inner voice.
The daily stresses and mind chatter quieted enough to allow my inner voice to surprise me more often with friendly little nuggets of wisdom, always perfectly timed, which would arise throughout the day to remind me to watch the sun dance on my boy’s hair, or to stop and smell the lilacs blooming near my home. It felt as if I’d plugged into my soul’s GPS, and wherever I was, it was pointing out the finer nuances of life that were always happening around me, I’d just been too busy and stressed to notice. I loved it! I made the relation that meditation had everything to do with how connected I was feeling. When I meditated, I had four bars, a clear direct connection, skip a session, and I would only have two bars.
Recently I tried something new with my meditation practice. Instead of concentrating outside of myself on a mantra, counting, or watching my breath, I looked inside myself. I asked “Who Am I?”
And guess who answered? My inner voice!
Each time I asked “Who Am I?” . . . my inner voice would answer immediately, sincerely, and with divine humor.
Turns out, I’m no body, nobody, no thing, and nothing. Nor am I any thing, or any one. I thought I was some thing, but evidently I was mistaken.
And that’s ok. At least I’m not alone.