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Finding the Small, Still Voice Within
In following our own personal vision for healing our self and the planet, we face an exciting challenge. We can develop our small, still voice within. The challenge is to become the most loving, self-actualized individuals that we can become. We have the tools to do this now with the self-help groups, personal growth workshops, therapeutic techniques and spiritual guidance that are available. We are being given the opportunity to achieve our highest spiritual level, and in doing so, to change the world. Following our vision is easier if we have a process that encourages us during times of doubt. Visionaries from all times and ages have been strengthened by listening to their inner wisdom as they followed their unique spiritual journeys. This age is about each individual learning to turn inward to listen to their Highest Self so that they can live in full consciousness and integrity to work for healing of our planet.
Understanding our self-limiting beliefs about being unworthy of being loved and finding our true spiritual selves are the keys to release from pain and suffering. We can learn to find our spiritual nature, which is essentially loving, to combat those feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. The Quakers as well as many other religious traditions have the concept of “centering down” or having an “inner meeting of one” by communing directly with the God who lives within. The process of following your vision starts with developing a loving relationship with yourself. It is to turn away from the voices of fear and remember that you are LOVE.
To do so, we must learn to tune into that “Small, Still Voice Within” which calls us. This is the voice that has been echoed in the sacred literature of the world. It is the voice that bids us to be who we were meant to be, pulling us forward through dreams, hunches and intuition to provide information about ourselves. It gives us the key to living from the part of us that holds the most integrity. Learning to use this voice, commonly called our Inner Wisdom or Higher Power, on a daily basis is the most important thing we can do in recovering from the hold of material objects and harmful addictions.
On Choosing an Outer Teacher
Spiritual teacher, Brugh Joy described the concept of inner and outer teachers. Outer teachers are invaluable along the path of transformation. Outer teachers come to us in the form of a friend, therapist, workshop leader, minister, guru or a spiritual teacher. Some teachers come in the voice of an author or members of a self-help group or a twelve-step program. Outer teachers are individuals who believe in us at a time when we do not believe in ourselves. They can give information but are necessary only as long as we do not know who we are. They can provide some of the tools to make the journey and point the way for us. They are a step along the way and point us down the path, but they are not the whole journey. As Joy says, “Each Soul is responsible for its own experience.” The path that must be walked is our own. Outer teachers cannot give us our own truth. The function of the outer teacher is to help us get to the Inner Teacher.
Some outer teachers still have their own life lessons to overcome. They may play out their unresolved issues of control within each group that gathers around them. Like everyone else raised in dysfunctional families, they recreate that same family structure to the extent that their power or ego needs have not been worked through. As you come into the sphere of influence of a teacher or therapist, observe his or her co-dependent leanings. Does he or she subtly try to coerce you or others in doing what he thinks is best for them? Watch to determine if methods of dependence are used to gain a personal power base. If people are viewed as “bad” or “sick,” then methods of shame and blame are being used. Peer pressure and the group process may be used to tell the individual what he “should” be doing with his life. The genuine spiritual teacher or therapist will give you the tools to develop your own Inner Teacher. He or she will look at you with unconditional regard so that you begin to see your true worth and beauty. The true teacher does not seek to make you wrong but demonstrates how you might be better. He or she will continue to focus on their own lessons and issues rather than trying to rescue you or exploit you. Ethical spiritual teachers build in checks and balances into their work to prevent exploitation of individuals who can become too dependent. They encourage their followers to think for themselves and to participate only in those activities with which they feel comfortable. In choosing a teacher, therapist or self help group, choose people with a high level of consciousness and sense of integrity. Your observations about whether the teacher practices what he or she preaches can help you determine the level at which they operate. Your inner wisdom can help you determine if the teacher is right for you.
As our society learns more about the process of empowerment, the time of seeking an external guru to turn over one’s power is past. Yes, you can take information from a great leader and learn from books, therapy, self help groups and experiential workshops. However, to truly move past your pain and dysfunctional behavior, your own inner base of knowledge must be developed. You are being asked to seek and find your own answers within. Fortunately, the techniques and methods to accomplish this great task are there. Finding your Higher Power will help to erase those misbeliefs about the unworthiness and sense of emptiness about yourself. Finding your truth through accessing your Inner Wisdom is the most important thing you can do in accomplishing your healing.
Steps to Developing Your Inner Teacher
Outer teachers are part of the early spiritual path. The Inner Teacher takes the place of outside authority and guidance further down the road. The Bible tells us “…be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Receiving inner guidance can become a daily act that will transform your life. Meditate upon your concern. At first ask questions of your Inner Wisdom that can be answered in the “yes” or “no” format. Listen quietly to the messages that you receive. The voice may be hesitant at first or it may come only part of the time. Pose open-ended questions several ways such as “May I do…..?” or “Shall I …..?” One formula to use is “Is it in my best and most perfect good for me to….?” or “Is it in my highest and best interests to….?” Watch your wording. Your Inner Guidance will take the question literally. Ask for the clearest message that you need for guidance on the specific concern at hand. Sometimes a quiet question will suffice. “What would you have me do?”
Once you master accessing the Inner Wisdom, you can use it to gain answers to take on any specific matter. Asking for wisdom with the proper intent can be helpful in clearing the fears that are present. Your intent in seeking inner guidance should be to know your innermost loving self. Ask to have any fear or selfish ego thinking set aside so that you may truly know what is right for you. The Inner Wisdom’s purpose is guidance, not to be a fortune teller. Do not try to use it for amassing personal gain, but only to guide you on your spiritual path. Don’t ask for information of the stock market or where to drill for oil. It is best to make contact with the Inner Voice with the goals of letting go of ego attachments and developing humility.
Clarity and Discernment
Your truth is known when all parts of yourself are comfortable with what has been revealed. This is that “small, still voice within” that resounds with recognition. Your truth is that knowledge that brings tears of recognition to your eyes and gives a resounding “Yes!” in your heart. According to Gandhi, “Truth is what the voice inside tells you.” The knowledge may come through as a voice, as a knowing or as a visual experience. Once you learn to access your Inner Wisdom, there is no question to which you cannot gain the answer.
Richard Bach, author of the popular book, Illusions, The Confessions of a Reluctant Messiah, reminds us that if you know to ask the question, you know the answer within. You may not always like what you hear. You may feel frightened by what has been revealed but you know its “rightness” in terms of your growth. Your conscious mind may disagree with what the Inner Wisdom is saying. You then have a choice to make as whether to carry it out or not. Gandhi spoke often of this experiencing the truth: “…the moment of truth is suddenly there–unannounced and pervasive in its stillness. It comes only to him who has lived with facts and figures in such a way that he is always ready for a sudden synthesis and will not, from sheer surprise and fear, startle truth away.”
Does the Voice Speak of Fear or of Love?
Discernment is absolutely necessary in recognizing the one true voice from other voices that you may hear. The Inner Wisdom voice is not the voice of your parents or other authorities in society. It is not a guilt-driven “should, must, have to or ought to.” The true voice has a different vibration and shifts you out of the fear, guilt and obligation to knowing what is right for you based on love. It is the quietness of knowing that comes through, causing a release of body tension. It is the “Aha!” and the deep knowing behind the message by discerning what is right for you. It is profound and at the same time extremely light. Some call it “the truth that feels like you.” The answer of truth will feel “right”–it will feel satisfying and peaceful.
How do you distinguish that one true voice inside if you have other voices nagging at you? Is the answer consistent with your standards and deeper values? Your fears send their voices too stopping you in your tracks. So determine if the voice comes out of your fear or add to your sense of mastery? Is it in your best interests even though there may be some risk? Does the answer measure up to the highest ideal that you have set for yourself? If you feel unsure of the authenticity of the message you get, ask if the information comes from your Inner Wisdom for your best and highest good. Ask the same question using slightly different wording to validate the answer.
When there is conflict, still your mind and ask, “What is it that I really need to know? What is in my best interests about this matter?” You can choose to laugh at the tug of war that sometimes goes on between your conscious mind and your Inner Wisdom. The difference is that the conscious mind may be caught in fear and addictions whereas being connected to the greater Intelligence of the universe; the Inner Wisdom comes from love and the yearning to be whole. A Course in Miracles tells us that there are two basic emotions–love and fear. Love and fear are opposing emotions that cannot occur at the same time–where love is fear cannot be and vice versa. When you turn to the loving aspect of your Inner Wisdom, you bypass the fear.
There are some strong considerations to be followed when you contact and use the Inner Voice. Continue to check to insure that the messages you get are consistent with your sense of your highest self. People who use the Inner Voice should be aware that continually checking is necessary to determine whether the information is of the purity of Christ Consciousness Energy.
Some messages, which have been received through an Ouija Board or channeled writing, may come from a lowered energy source, which can be potentially harmful. Spiritual books have long cautioned the novice against using these forms of occult communication as the process can pull in negative energy. Yet, some individuals do use these forms of communication and receive good information. If you use these forms, consider the messages and see if they fit with what is consistent with your best and highest self.
Some messages that come through appear to be wholly appropriate at first but soon turn negative leading the person into believing that they are special. There are dangers for being carried away into grandiosity for if there is no active program for addressing the pretensions of the ego. False voices can subtly lead individuals away from what is their real truth into believing that they are special, are a divine messenger on earth or are reincarnated from important historical personages. Through constant study and cleansing and purification of reducing ego attachments, you will be able to discern the authenticity and appropriateness of messages that you may hear. If the message you hear seems grandiose or bizarre, it probably is. If it is leading you to believe that you are special and better than others, then it is not you’re Inner Wisdom speaking.
Once you learn to recognize the strength and power of your Inner Wisdom, you will better understand how the discernment process of sorting out the true from the false voice. The determination of its authenticity then becomes how well it works for you. As the Bible reminds us “What are the fruits of the labor?” If the fruits are beautiful and abundant, the voice is in alignment with everything that is truth for you. The ultimate test of truth, according to Gandhi, is the refusal to do harm to yourself or another individual.
Daily practice and hindsight vision will convince you of the accuracy of the answers that comes through when you tune inward. Check the results of your decisions when you have followed the advice of the Inner Voice. Keep track of the wisdom and changes that it brings into your life. As your confidence builds, you will find yourself turning to your inner guidance more and more for important decisions. Your conscious mind will become more in tune with the inner self so that you need not ask on small matters. Your intuition will develop more so that decisions are made with conscious mind and Inner Wisdom working together. You will experience less conflict in your life as you have a means of always knowing what is right and correct for you.
As you learn to recognize the genuine authority of your Inner Wisdom, you will realize the power that you hold is within your own being. Daily practice seeking your own truth instead of relying on others helps validate the guidance that you are being given. Trust in the process of seeking within grows as a tenure of your experience. Once you are certain of the validation of the voice that you hear as being consistent for your growth and well being, the process becomes an automatic part of your spiritual practice.
Your Inner Wisdom will lead you to places that you do not want to go, as it will send you to places where you will challenge your fear. It will tell you things about your integrity that you may not want to hear. If you need to leave an unhealthy situation but stay because of fear, you will be shown the way. The Inner Wisdom will be there for you if you turn to it daily for guidance.
Accessing the Small, Still Voice Within
You have already had some practice in being a partner with your Inner Wisdom. It has been present in moments of great decision and turning points in your life. It works daily in your intuition. Your invitation now is to ask it to come though directly to give you guidance.
Close your eyes and start to breathe deeply. If you are able to meditate, go into the process that has worked for you. If this is new to you, continue to breathe deeply and become quiet and still inside. Start to feel your inner smile as the corners of your mouth turn upward while you think of something pleasant. Let the smile spread as you remember something funny allowing the nostrils to flare and the whole face to follow as you continue to send your smile to all parts of your body. Smile as you breathe in and out. Blow out tension, as you breathe in, bring in peace and harmony. Say to yourself several times, “In–peace. Out–tension.”
There is a part of you that knows your wholeness. This is the part that is all knowing and loving. It wants to speak to you of its yearning for your happiness. It has been there all along and now wants to speak in a direct voice to further your growth and creativity. Feel the gratitude for a lifetime of guidance. Thank your Inner Wisdom for being so much a part of your striving for truth.
Feel the stirring for health and wholeness within. Ask all of the forces who have been working for your best and highest good to be with you. Ask to have any guardian angels or spirit helpers that assist you be present. Ask all that happens in this experience to be in the Christ Consciousness spirit. Ask for your conscious mind to be set aside so that you can gain information from the Inner Teacher who is the representative of the light in the world. Allow all outside thoughts and worries to simply drift away.
Now in this time of quiet and harmony, ask a question about what is the best action for you to take on a specific matter. Ask a question where you will recognize the truth of its answer. Listen quietly to any changes in your thoughts, mind or body. The answer may come through as distinct words, a release in body tension, or as a “knowing.” Listen well. If you do not get an answer, ask again with a different question. Continue to inquire within while attending to the replies that you are given. If you are not given an answer, thank your Inner Wisdom for bringing you to this point and try at another time. If you are given information, thank your Inner Self for this process of finding your truth.