The Slow Rhythm Of Our Inner Voice

I was attending a coaching retreat in Saratoga Springs (New York) when I heard the words, loud and clear. They weren't the words I expected, but the words I needed. I had told the agent at customs that the purpose of my visit was to attend this event which would help me create a business. “Can't you do that on your own?”, he asked with the seriousness that defines both cops and customs agents. Clearly not, agent, I thought. At least this time they didn't search me.

And here I was, sitting among dozens of strangers, eyes closed, with a hand on my heart, asking the wisest part of me for guidance. I had a coaching certificate and was determined to start a coaching business, but the words that came to me pointed at a different path. The words were Speak and Write.

Speak and write. Well, yes, coaches do speak and write, but at that moment I had the first hint that I didn't want to offer coaching sessions in the traditional sense. I wasn't surprised by the word write; after all, I've been writing my whole life. But I've never really enjoyed speaking. I'm a classic introvert: The student who observes more than participates, the employee who only shares her views when she really feels she must, the kind of person who would rather die text than call. So, where did this desire to speak come from? What did it mean?

I left the retreat, still believing I was supposed to coach people. Hadn't I spent countless hours learning, practising, envisioning? Hadn't I spent thousands of dollars in programs? I couldn't just give it all up. I thought, perhaps, it was fear, and as such, it had to be conquered. So I kept pushing. I coached some people and created a group workshop in my area, but despite the positive effect my work seemed to have on them, I still felt uneasy afterwards. Vacant. It took me many journaling sessions to admit that I truly, sincerely, didn't want to coach anyone. I wanted to write.

And so I turned to Elephant Journal and Highly Sensitive Refuge to share my words, and created We Within. Privately, I reconnected with abandoned writing projects and started some new ones. In that process, the word speak began to join the word write in my head. I remembered there was something I had truly enjoyed doing in my workshop and coaching sessions: Guiding others through a meditation or visualisation.

This is how my meditations were born. Insight Timer provided the space, and all I had to do was show up with an open heart and a clear voice. As I wrote and spoke, I had a distinct feeling that I was on the right track. This time, my inner voice was quietly content, because I was doing what I was meant to be doing. Was it scary? Definitely. I still feel nervous when I hit publish: Will people like this? Will it make sense to them? Will it be helpful? But I find so much enjoyment and purpose in it that I keep going, and my vision grows bigger with each passing day.

What I want to highlight from all this is how long it can take for us to figure out what our heart truly wants. Sometimes our inner voice is clear and specific, and we know with absolute certainty what it is that we're supposed to do next. More often than not, though, our intuition is a gradual, slow process that speaks to us in riddles, giving us small pieces of the puzzle that we will complete when the time is right. Sometimes I try to force this process, wanting quick answers, but my heart's still voice keeps teaching me a lesson of patience: You know everything you need to know right now. Keep going.

It is common for us to desire certainty and control. Our survival is rooted in that need. This is even more so now that information is constantly at our fingertips, and our way of living has sped up. If only we could find the right question that will lead us to the right answer; if only we could predict the future with everything we know; if only our mind was as fast as the technology we coexist with. But our brain is the same it's always been, life is still uncertain, and no amount of Google searches will prepare us for every eventuality. If anything, we will end up overwhelmed with the sheer amount of possible futures that lie before us.

In times like this, it is more necessary than ever to turn to our intuition. And it is equally necessary to slow down enough in order for that intuition to come through. We need pockets of quiet time, away from distractions. This doesn't only mean sitting in meditation for a long period of time; it can look like going for a relaxing walk, doing the dishes, taking a shower, anything that puts our mind in an alpha state, alert yet calm. 

If you do wish to actively access that inner voice through a meditative state, here's what I do: I start by focusing on letting all my thoughts dissolve. I picture them as water being flushed from my head into my body, and keep going down, intentionally relaxing every body part. Then I focus on my heart space, ask for guidance or a specific question, and wait. It's not a quick process, and it might take some time to find that stillness, especially if you're particularly preoccupied. Don't get frustrated if you don't receive anything, or if you can't stop getting distracted by thoughts. It's perfectly normal. Sometimes you'll be more focused, other times less. When the answer does come, it might be in the form of a word, an image, a sensation… It's also possible that it will come later in the form of a sudden thought, a dream, a certain knowing in your body. Write down what you received, even if it didn't make sense. It might be a piece of a puzzle. Save it for the future.

Another option is freewriting. Just write the question or topic, and note down whatever's coming to you. You can also have a dialogue with a wiser part of yourself. Ask them questions and write down their answers. Do not judge or edit what you're writing, just let it out. If you do this regularly, over time, you will see patterns. Fears and desires will show up on the paper, and eventually, a sense of certainty, something that feels true as you write it and read it. The page can lie at first, as we pour all the musts and shoulds we have accumulated in our system, but when the truth flows, our body knows.

May we all find and trust our inner guidance. May we all have the freedom to do so.

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