When I listen quietly I am able to hear my own voice…not the inner critic that if left to her own devices engages in constant banter. NOT that dialogue. No, this voice doesn’t label me “wrong” or “bad”. This voice offers love, honor, respect and kindness. This voice guides me forward from a place of wisdom; offers suggestions that align the present with my future goals, dreams and desires.
This is the input I receive when I arrive on my mat in yoga…especially those days that I feel led to a particular class, not with the purpose of “getting my practice in” or “exercise”, but because something in here (picture me pointing at my heart) is directing me there(now at the mat). It’s the same voice that says; “pick up the phone” and reach out to a friend in Indiana, or “send an email” to a certain client to check in right now, or “tonight choose another route home”. Direction. Guidance. Counsel.
I’ve often heard clients refer to a voice that tells them how they “should” be, what they “should” do; as I hear THAT voice described I often think of words like “punitive, demanding, shaming, critical”. Many of us have been taught that voices with such qualities are beneficial; they help us stay on task, they provide discipline, invoke will power. In our initial session I often ask clients to consider giving up the “should”ing on themselves. Until recently I was so sure that I did not “should” on myself, I’d moved on. Perhaps like me you are tricking yourself to believe that your inner voice is always loving? Here’s what I learned recently when I had a conversation with one of the people I love and admire most in the world; mine needs some more practice. In the kindest, most gentle, loving way my friend mentioned that I have a very strong idea of who I “should” be and that idea might get in the way of the self love, acceptance and compassion that is necessary for me to become who I am meant to be and who I haven’t yet become. Ideals can sound “should’ing”; a forgiving person does a, b and c…so I must…A loving person does d, e, and f so I must, and the list goes on…
And so it is with some who arrive at my office with their lists; I suggest we start with acceptance of where we are in order to create where we wish to be, that the idea of loving ourselves, as is, not only creates a smoother journey but it offers us much needed tools and skills for the adventure; like the ability AND quiet to hear THE voice.
I believe THAT voice gently guided me to visit my mentor, my friend, allowing me deeper reflection, insight and perspective on myself and therefore my work. Perhaps as each of us sets intention for the new year we might first commit to listening to that quiet voice within and start from there.