“Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating an emotional clearing to allow ourselves to feel, think, dream and question”
There are so many voices.
The voices of devastation and fear that feed the never-ending news cycle.
The voices of comparison and competition from ever-present social media.
The voices of industry experts with their latest advice on health, parenting, environmental living and spirituality.
Do you know how to quiet the voices? The voices all around you that never stop with their constant stream of information.
Do you know how to quiet your soul? Do you know how to sit with your thoughts and let them be? Or do you find listening to your own soul uncomfortable and so you deliberately drown it out with the other voices?
You drown it by switching on the radio, or by reading articles by ‘experts,’ or by scrolling through your Facebook feed. You prioritise other people’s voices over your own.
What if you set aside time intentionally to listen to yourself? What would you find?
At a conference I attended recently, we were taken through a guided meditation. As I quieted my mind, the first thing I became aware of, was that I had a headache. Now this meditation was not the first speaker of the day, nor the second, but the third. So I had sat through all the morning sessions with a headache applying its pressure and I hadn’t even been aware of it.
Until I calmed my mind.
Sometimes quieting your mind allows you to hear your body, your emotions, your spirit. Sometimes it allows you to even hear the voice of your God.*
Here are three strategies I am trying to help me be less overwhelmed by the voices of others.
Filter the voices you listen to
Often we fall into a pattern of listening to others without really thinking about whether they are qualified to speak on the matter at hand.
Let’s face it we can find ‘experts’ in every arena these days.
Often the only qualification that these people have to speak is that they are well-known, rather than any real experience and education on the topic at hand.
We choose our doctor with care, our counsellor with care. Heck, we even choose our hairdresser with care. But we indiscriminately open ourselves to any old advice on the Internet.
So I need to ask myself these questions: Who am I listening to? Are they qualified to speak into this situation? Does what they say fit with what I already know?
Listen to the important voices first
Who are the important voices in each situation you are dealing with?
If it is a question of parenting, then my husband’s voice is always important. And I need to make sure that I am not implementing a strategy that is informed by a random article on the Internet.
Likewise, chatting to the other mums at the school gate can be useful in gaining ideas. But I need to make sure that they are not the first voice I turn to when I am making parenting decisions.
Similarly, I need to remember to check with my God, ‘for the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.’**
Often times, what is right for me, and my family looks totally wrong to others. So bringing these things to God is vitally important.
Trust your own voice
Call it your gut, call it instinct, or call it intuition.
Your voice is important.
But you need to quiet down the other voices around you enough so that you can hear your own voice. Stop drowning it out.
Take the time to write in a journal if that’s useful. Go for a walk by yourself if that’s what you need to hear your own thoughts.
One of my favourite strategies this year has been a monthly think day. One day a month just to sit with my own thoughts and see what is on top.
Sit with the uncomfortable silence of your own thoughts. Listen to what you actually feel. Get to know your own voice, and learn to trust your gut.
As Rumi says, ‘Listen to the silence, it has so much to say.’
*’Be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46:10)
** 1 Corinthians 3:19