We often find ourselves plagued by the myriad of voices in our heads wondering which ones are to be heeded and which ones are to be ignored or treated as passing thoughts.
With this mandala, we see three main levels of voices that also appear to correlate with levels of breathing:
- random thoughts, usually starting with “I” – shallow breathing
- “out of the blue” energized thoughts … like neurons firing – deep conscious breathing
- soft gentle command-like thoughts; more intuitive – the gap between inhales/exhales
While there can be many combinations and variations on these levels, they generally fit into these three, all with valid roles to play in our lives. We just need to figure out which one to listen to in any given moment instead of just operating on auto-pilot.
Examples of random thoughts, which often come from our self-protecting ego:
- I should vacuum the living room
- what’s that noise?
- I need to finish that project
- no one likes me/my work/etc
- any thought starting with “if only I…”
Examples of “out of the blue” thoughts which often happen as a visual and while doing some mundane task (they can also appear in our dreams)…and can feel like an “aha” moment:
- a solution to a problem
- remembering someone’s name
- a new creative idea for a project
- a new way of doing something
- an action or activity triggers a hidden memory or dream
Examples of gentle command-like thoughts, which often come with a bodily reaction (goose-bumps, chills, an inner buzz, etc.):
- go to the bank
- call __________ (person’s name)
- turn right
- can also be short answers or responses to our random thoughts
Our challenge comes in three parts:
- discerning which voice is speaking
- choosing which voice to follow
- following through with our choice
Sometimes it feels like one voice comes in and then another one immediately chimes in seeming to discredit the first.
For instance we may hear “finish your project” and then just as quickly another voice says “you can finish it tomorrow.” Who said what? The “finish your project” could be a level 3 voice reminding us that we need to finish the project and the “you can finish it tomorrow” could be a level 1 voice that is fearful in some way of finishing the project (fear of failure, fear of success, ‘what if I ruin it’, ‘what if people don’t like it’, etc).
On the other hand the “finish your project” could be a level 1 voice, which feels guilty or fearful that this project needs to get done as soon as possible. And the “you can finish it tomorrow” could be a level 3 voice letting you know that something else needs to be done today and that tomorrow will work out fine for finishing the project.
Regardless of which voice is speaking and which one we listen to, it serves us best to consciously choose without judging it rather than operating in default sleep mode.
Through time and practice we can know in an instant which voice is speaking. Does it feel protective, fearful, tense, guilt-driven, somewhat superficial? Does it feel like it comes from deep within as if from another place? Do we feel a bodily reaction to it?
To purposely connect with these higher level voices we just simply need to focus on our breathing or go even deeper to the gaps between our breaths. Yes, the level 1 voice will want to chime in while doing so…all we have to do is just acknowledge the level 1 voice (maybe even give it a name) and go back to focusing on our breath.
In the beginning it may seem like a lot of extra time to figure out the source of our voices and which one to follow. However, eventually we’ll be able to do this process in an instant…knowing that we are consciously choosing the voice that serves us best and is for the highest good of all.