There is a tale that goes something like this:
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all.
One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”
The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
In quiet moments, you may have felt it—that tugging feeling in the pit of your stomach or in your chest when something is not right. How many times have you known something about a person or situation, but ignored it only to have your suspicions confirmed? You may look outside yourself for answers, thinking that accessing your inner wisdom engenders mistrust, fear, and doubt, especially when there is no evidence to back it up.
But you were gifted with this inner “knowingness” and by building a relationship of trust with this voice, it can lead to an empowered life filled with desirous outcomes. Start to pay attention, and you will slowly begin to hear the different voices or “wolves” within you, and the choice will become yours as to which one you will feed.
What Is the “Inner Voice”?
All your life there has been an inner voice offering guidance, gently and sometimes urgently. Sometimes you listened and other times you brushed it aside and thought nothing of it. This voice goes by different names: inner voice, inner guide, spiritual guide, inner wisdom, or whatever you choose.
It’s not a voice you hear necessarily, but a sense or a feeling (though it can be a voice for some). It can be a hunch or fleeting feeling, image, or impression. “Listen to your gut” has legitimate basis as your gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to your true emotions, providing a powerful and trustworthy indication when determining the right course of action. After all, the body doesn’t lie.
You don’t have to be an intuitive person to experience this—you are constantly taking in impressions throughout the day with your finely tuned senses and processing them. The shift starts when you begin to pay attention to the impressions and your responses to them. With so many enticing stimuli drawing your attention outward, you may have lost touch with your ability to connect inward. Trust that you have this inner guidance, waiting patiently for you to notice—your personal compass to guide you through the tempestuous waters of life.
Why You Should Pay Attention
When was the last time you thought about what your deepest, most cherished desire is? Or, when was the last time you simply stopped to “be” in the moment during a difficult time and find stillness in order to gain clarity? You may become so focused on what society, friends, or family expects from you that to listen to your heart, so to speak, seems silly. This isn’t to say you should toss aside outside opinions, but consider bringing your own inner voice into the mix and see happens.
It was Albert Einstein who said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it,” and this couldn’t be any truer. Accessing that inner guidance to help elevate you both mentally and emotionally enables you to become better at handling problems or, in general, handling life. Being able to wade above the waters of life rather than struggling in the mud below is where you want to be. Plus, you have the upper hand by gaining a better vantage point to see where you need to go and how to get there.
How to Recognize Your Inner Voice
Inspiration speaker and author, Marie Forleo, says that if it’s not a HELL YES then it’s a NO, and this is what it’s like to be in touch with your innate wisdom. When first starting to listen for your inner voice, more than likely it won’t come through quite as clear as this. Think of an old penny with the brightness of the metal beneath dulled over time. However, with some elbow grease the dullness can be removed, revealing the brightness of the metal beneath that was always there. Just because you don’t feel these “aha moments” doesn’t mean they are not there; with some work, your receptivity can be shined up, making it easier to listen and feel when your inner voice is speaking.
With practice, you will learn to recognize when fear and doubt are drowning out your true inner voice that is struggling to be heard. You are listening to your inner voice when your body is filled with YUM, whereas the voice of fear and doubt fills your body with YUCK. You’re listening to your inner voice when you feel empowered, authentic, and peaceful. You will notice that good people and positive experiences are drawn to you with ease. You are listening to fear and doubt when you feel stagnant, unfulfilled, angry, and resentful. By listening to your inner voice, you become the creator of your life rather than a bystander.
Sometimes the inner voice offers a choice that is scary, making you hesitate and question the accuracy. However, more often than not, the most difficult choices are the ones that launch you toward a life filled with purpose, fulfillment, and joy, despite having to go through the gauntlet first—that’s when you learn and grow the most.
Clearing the Way
Listening for your inner voice is like training a new muscle. It won’t happen overnight, but if you make a consistent effort to hone it, the stronger it will become—like a tuner tuning into the right frequency. During this process, you will learn more about yourself and it will be a game changer. Just like with any new venture, it helps to prepare yourself and it also lets your subconscious know that you are truly ready to make changes. A few meaningful daily practices to put in place are ones you are probably familiar with:
- Cultivate present-moment awareness
- Practice mindfulness in all activities
- Follow a healthy diet
- Exercise (you know this was coming)
- Surround yourself with people who support you and your dreams
While all of these practices are beneficial, meditation is like jumping on the fast track. Praying is talking to god (or creator), meditation is listening to god. With meditation, you find stillness and it is there you finally meet your true self, the one whispering to you all these years. Fortunately, today there are more opportunities to discover meditation, so be sure to find one that works for you.
The following is a meditation exercise to help you get started.
Meditation: Cultivating Your Inner Voice
- Find a quiet place without disturbances and get into a comfortable position (avoid lying down unless you have physical limitations).
- If you are seeking guidance regarding a particular situation, formulate the question now and write it down. Be specific as possible (this is for your eyes only so be open and honest). Place it beside you.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Begin to inhale deeply, and as you exhale, allow your body to relax even more. Take 2 to 3 of these deep breaths.
- Notice where your attention is. If it’s outside of yourself, bring it back and center within your heart or solar plexus area, it’s helpful to place your hand on that area.
- Now, silently ask yourself the following questions without judgment or expectations. You don’t have to know the answers.
• Who am I?
• What do I want?
• What is my purpose?
• What am I grateful for?
- Begin to repeat the mantra “So Hum” by silently thinking “So” as you breath in and “Hum” as you breath out. You will have thoughts and this is normal, simply drift back to the mantra each time. Practice this for 10 minutes (feel free to set a timer).
- When finished, slowly open your eyes and notice how you feel.
- If you wrote a question down, look at it and see if anything reveals itself.
- Feel free to journal if you are inspired.
Keep in mind answers don’t necessarily come during meditation, they may appear during your daily activities when you least expect it. Meditation sets the stage for the real story to start unfolding and for you to discover your inner voice. You learn the lesson of letting go of what you think is supposed to happen (and gets in the way of truth), and you move toward being in the moment and clearing the way for your inner voice to shine through like a beacon in the night.
Remember to keep a light heart on this journey and always move in the direction of your happiness, even if it seems daunting at first. You have the answers within, though sometimes you may not want to listen. It’s not easy being human, but it’s good to know you are not alone. Though the voices of fear and doubt seem the strongest within you at times, remember you have the choice to single out the lone voice that remains steady and strong and will always remind you of who you are and what you want. You will know it when you feel it, and your body and mind will rejoice in the “rightness” of it all.
Learn how to use meditation to get in touch with the deepest, wisest part of yourself with Basics of Meditation, a self-paced online course guided by Deepak Chopra. Learn More.