Listening from within is a practice. No matter what our brains tell us, we are unlikely to hear our ‘inner voices’ on a regular basis unless we are in some way seeking to do so. Determining whether the Voice we are hearing is coming from our Ego or our Soul is often a challenge in itself, making it tricky when we first start to listen for it (or them, in this case). We simply aren’t sure what ‘hearing my inner voice’ looks, feels or sounds like. Our Ego Energies serve many purposes, serving as an Energy, a Voice, a Scale and a Protector, and they are deeply tied to our brain’s signals. Their constant choices are all connected to and through our thoughts, almost simultaneously. Our ego voice usually occupies the driver seat in our brains, making it hard to recognize or distinguish the subtle steering being offered from our Soul Energies, and our soul's energies offer these same purposes also taking the form of an Energy, a Voice, a Scale, and a Protector. When we recognize their distinctive features from the perspective of both our egos and souls, we start to see how many different thoughts and feelings still affect us, and which we can enjoy moving away from.
Operating as our physical and/or emotional ‘protectors’, our egos exist to keep us from anything potentially ‘harmful’ and they are very good at their jobs. Since they take their cues from how we react to stimuli, it makes sense that by the time we are adults, our egos have become ‘protective’ about many of the things around us, and that a lot of those protections are in place as a result of how we reacted to stimuli when we were much younger and less experienced. Our egos often fail to recognize our growth and continue to protect parts of us that no longer need protecting, especially in the areas of fear, discomfort, trauma, and communication.
Conversely, our inner (Soul) voice operates independently of our brains and physical bodies, and is much more ethereal and subjective in nature. As we have evolved as a species, we have organically favored (read: paid more attention to) the tones of our Ego Intentions over the tones of our Soul Intentions. In fact, many of us spend time questioning the very existence of our Souls, period. Our religious leaders, philosophers, scientists, and metaphysicians–ancient to modern–have weighed in on the matter with tools for measurement and ways to go about proving the existence or absence of such energies. I’d wager that this human ‘argument’ traces all the way back to the time we began to forget that we are all connected in the first place, but that is a digression that is strictly my opinion…
Funny, as I typed that last sentence, Paul Simon’s lyric from Under African Skies played in my head and the music swelled, “This is the story of how we begin to remember…this is the powerful pulsing of love in the veins…”. Graceland, the 1987 album that features the song, found Paul Simon ‘risking’ his career by answering a call coming directly from his soul over listening to the advice of his ‘handlers’. The result was a musical masterpiece that was able to transcend our egos and ‘wake us up’ in some kind of way with the familiar drumbeats of our Soul Energies. I remember that many people were bothered about it because it crossed taboo political boundaries. Others believed it exploited the musicians who participated and left Africa to tour with the album, learning a whole different way of life... I remember seeing them on TV and feeling a deep inner joy and it was an experience. I had always liked Paul Simon’s music, but this was something more. He had not only touched our collective heart, he also ignited the passion in our souls, moving us to feel something.
I was a senior in high school, blown away by a mix of sounds I’d never heard, and instantly moved with feelings of connection that still resonate when I hear that album. I am grateful for that ‘pull’ because it ‘introduced’ me to a distinct ‘soul perspective’. My highly ego-based view morphed into one that regularly reminded me to open my heart and be more loving to everyone (not just the people I thought deserved it). The difference this change made in my self esteem was enough to convince me I was onto something about our collective interconnectedness, but I didn’t have a clue what it was. My being ‘open’ had inadvertently made me stop trying to impress other people, and the byproduct was a boost in my confidence. At 18, I got to take an objective look at the way I was ‘measuring’ people. Even though my environment played a big role in the development of my superiority complex, I was eager to break those ‘habits’ and generally be a better person in the world. I’m not saying it happened overnight, but the steps I took in that direction are part of the path I continue to follow as best I can. It has led me, over long and winding roads, to Our Raw Material.
Our soul voices are not very loud–unless they need to make an immediate point–and when that happens, we might as well sit back and enjoy the show because anything is possible! I'm referring to those moments in life that make us stop and think things like: How did I just escape this (near) calamity unscathed? What are the odds of what just happened right here? What does it all mean? Are we all connected?, etc. Those thoughts and memories attach us to something bigger than ourselves, if only for an instant. Even the most practiced atheists are given brief moments of pause as the soul voice persists, naturally…
After we experience any type of ‘inner moment’, the ensuing ‘breakthrough thoughts’ are designed to pull our focus on the matter inward, whether it’s for a split second or for a lifetime. This impact resonates through us immediately as the anciently-familiar sounds of our inner voice make some kind of mind-body-spirit contact in a place we can’t quite envision, but feels close enough to be part of us (how’s that for a clinical definition?). Some of us will hear our inner voice as an actual voice, but frequently these communications come through in more subtle ways. Most often, we are naturally guided to inner listening through a process referred to as ‘direct knowing’. Quiet and consistent, this ‘direct knowledge’ is always available to us, whoever or wherever we are. If we are looking and listening for it with intention, we naturally develop a mutually beneficial relationship that encourages practical and useful ‘help’ in manifesting and co-creating our realities.
At the same time, we are fostering our personal understanding of the real power at our disposal: working with both voices at once. The easiest way to identify your soul voice is to remember that it never tells you anything bad about yourself. It supports you and stays connected to what you (and your ego) are learning. With increasingly intentional effort, we can all gain regular access to this universally available information. It’s a matter of trust and it comes down to which voice we are following in which moments. What does the ego voice have to say? What does the soul voice have to say? How do we know which one from another?
Direct Knowing is a type of ‘inner communication’ that reflects the sentiments of our ‘inner voices’. Our experiencing it opens the door for our learning how to actually work with it, and ultimately demonstrates the value in trusting it. The more we pay attention to it, the more we notice its presence. We begin to realize that it is always there, but our thoughts themselves are often in the way of our ability to hear it. Have you ever had the experience where all of a sudden you have the right answer to a question in front of you, but you’re not really sure where it came from? Like, if you’d had time to think, you might have had to work for the answer, but instead, there it was in front of you on a silver platter?
That is the kind of thing I’m referring to, and as I continue to work with this practice, I’m learning more and more that trusting those answers is a valuable, largely untapped resource in the world of human interaction…so long as we are listening to our soul voice, in conjunction with that of our ego. Literally, deciding which of them should have the right of way in each situation. If we rely solely on the voice of our ego, we find ourselves operating from a fairly selfish perspective, although we can’t usually see that without a lot of self-reflection. In a human body, it is effectively impossible to operate strictly from the soul because this vehicle requires attention and protection to ensure it’s survival. We are at odds within ourselves and if we accept that as fact, it becomes easier, and definitely more joyful to participate in the world around us.
Our ego demands are many, and their accompanying thoughts can take our brains far from our intentions. Have you ever spent a big chunk of time worrying about something, only to have it turn out fine? Or obsessing about something you have no control over? Both of those activities fill our brains with thoughts that keep us from hearing our ‘soul guidance’ (also known as inner voice and high sense perception, among others). The chatter of our inner dialogue can keep us in a constant state of distraction, especially if we are full of self-doubt and second-guessing our choices. These types of thoughts contribute to the energetic congestion that clouds our ability to hear our inner voice. By now, I hope it’s clear that I am using 'soul voice’ and ‘inner voice’ interchangeably. My hope in working with both is that we all learn to understand and appreciate concepts over word choices with more regularity so we understand each other with more regularity and ease.
I was scrolling through the news this morning, and came across a Time article titled The New Science of Forgetting. The source study used Zebrafish to determine how we humans might hold information; the process of remembering and forgetting. It’s an interesting read, but more germane to this blog, it supports my belief that even though we aren’t meant to hold all information at once, we are meant to be able to access it a lot more easily than we believe we can. How many of us abjectly rejected the notion of the internet when we first heard it described? It seemed fantastical and impossible to me, and now it’s a part of our daily reality in most places.
The ways in which we store and access information open up when our minds and bodies are working in tandem with our breathing. It sounds too simple to be successful, but the truth is, intentional thought combined with intentional breathing is a recipe for deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the world we inhabit. If we are listening to our inner, soul voice, and making regular choices that serve the greater good, we are increasingly privy to these gifts. As more of us choose to listen from this place, we build a stronger community that can better provide for its own needs, further limiting the time we spend in worry and fear, collectively.
So how do you tell the difference in which voice you are hearing? By paying close attention to yourself: mind and body… The number one difference, as I’ve already mentioned, is that our soul voice never has anything bad to say about us, or anyone else for that matter. It keeps us focused on what is good and what we are learning. Its sage advice makes a situation better, or neutralizes our participation so that we don’t escalate a brewing conflict. If we are hungry or dehydrated? We are probably hearing our ego voice. If we are emotional in any way, the voice is definitely ego. If we have anxiety, or PTSD, or simply self-doubt, we might be missing the positive signals that are regularly coming in from our soul voices, perpetuating those states of being without knowing it.
If your life provides you with a lot more ego voice than soul voice, and you’d like to start ‘hearing’ from a place of soul/ego balance, set an easy intention to do so. Just ask for it and then ‘listen’ from an unstirred space. Let your breath move the energetic debris from your thoughts and ‘feel’ the concerns of the ego fall away, as you let the drumbeat of your own soul music rise up to greet you. Smile from within and feel the level of comfort that only comes with listening from that balanced space within us. Inhale. Exhale. And Repeat.