By Roshan, New Age Islam
22 November 2015
It’s good to be busy, doing the things we have to, of course, but it’s also good to take some time off each day to be with ourselves, to enjoy our silence, to listen to what our inner voice—our true self—wants to tell us. Our inner voice constantly speaks to us, but how often do we take time off from our unnecessarily packed schedules to heed it?
I hadn’t a clue about the inner voice and the importance of listening to it till some months ago, when my good fortune led me to a group of men and women, of varying age groups, nationalities and class religious backgrounds, who were on a tour sharing with people their experiences with ‘inner voice listening’.
The informal presentation the group made was deeply moving, and in a short while I was completely won over by the simple but compelling idea that they had come to talk about. “Sit in silence for, say, 20 minutes or half an hour every day, preferably in the morning,” they explained, “and invite your inner voice to speak. Listen attentively to what it says. If what you hear is in accordance with the norms of honesty and goodness and the welfare of all, you could take it to be your inner voice telling you something important. Note it down in a note-book. It’s as simple as that.”
Listening to one’s inner voice, the group explained, was key to self-realization, which is the essential purpose of all religions underneath their apparent diversity. Anyone and everyone could do inner-voice listening. It wasn’t tied to any particular religion. You didn’t have to believe in any particular religion or ideology to do it. After all, no matter what our belief-system may be, every one of us has an inner voice.
Often, we just cannot bear to listen to our inner voice because we want to run away from what it seeks to tell us. We fear that what it wants us to hear maybe too painful or embarrassing. We think it may go against what we want to think about ourselves. We may consider the verdict of our inner voice too inconvenient to accept. This could be because of deep-rooted guilt for some action of ours that we are reluctant to admit. But try as much as we can, the guilt simply refuses to go away—the conscience refuses to allow it to. And so, it builds up inside, taking the form of resentment, hate, jealousy and anger, even as these negative emotions corrode us from within, harming ourselves much more than anyone else. Accepting the inner voice’s reminders about the wrongs that we have done and making amends for them is key to overcoming negativities and becoming a happier person, I learned that day.
“When you listen to your inner voice, you may be confronted by memories of some harm you may have done or hurt you may have caused to someone, through word or deed. Your inner voice may tell you to make reparations for this. If you heed this, you will be liberated from your guilt. An enormous burden will be lifted from your shoulders, and you will experience a great sense of relief,” the group explained.
This was no empty rhetoric. Members of the group revealed how following the lead of their inner voice, they had apologized to people they had hurt and how this had led to healing of broken relationships, freeing them from the burden of guilt and bringing in great joy in their lives.
While engaged in listening to your inner voice, I learned, you could give it topics to deal with. For instance, you could lead your inner voice to guide you about what to do with regard to a troubled relationship, to suggest a way out of a difficult situation or to take a decision on an issue about which you are confused. You could also direct the inner voice to help you list some of important things for your to-do list for the day.
“Keep up the practice of listening to your inner voice every day, and you will gradually grow in awareness of your true self. And as you begin to transform as a result, you will find people around you being transformed, too,” the group continued. “The world can be changed only if we as individuals change. ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’, as Mahatma Gandhi famously put it.’”
The testimonies of the members of the group about the amazing transformation that inner voice listening had brought about in their own lives bowled me over completely. That very morning, I did my first inner voice listening session, along with members of the group.
One of the first things that my inner voice prompted me to do was to confess some of the things I’ve done in the past that I had then sought to uneasily justify to myself but which I now was compelled to admit were completely unacceptable. So, for instance, I wrote to a professor who had, some two decades ago, given me a generous fellowship, and told him about how I had cheated on the bills that I had presented for reimbursement for expenses that I had wrongly claimed I had incurred. I had given the college fake bills, and I begged him to forgive me for this. I wrote to a landlady, saying how ungrateful I had been to her for her kindness. She had treated me wonderfully when I had lived in her house, but when she came to stay with me on vacation, I had treated her really shoddily. I requested her to pardon me for my terrible behaviour. I sent off a friendly email message to my sister-in-law, whom I had cut off links with because I had stopped speaking with my brother, her husband. And so on.
And guess what? The results of all this were truly amazing! People who I thought would never forgive me did so with great alacrity! And in the process, I was relieved of a heavy burden of guilt and resentment that I had carried for years. It was truly wonderful being released of an enormous mountain of bitterness!
Inner voice listening has now become a part of my daily life. I set the alarm for around 20-25 minutes for this every morning, and sitting on my chair I let my mind speak to me as I sip my coffee. I get many messages from my inner voice every time I turn to it. It tells me how to manage challenges and navigate through life’s sometimes rough waters. It draws my attention to the beauty and goodness in people whom I sometimes resent. It insists that I apologise to someone I have been cruel to. It goads me to do this or refrain from doing that. It also suggests to me some important things that I must do that day. I jot down all that it tells me in a note-book. This exercise is one of the major highlights of my day, and I just love it!
You might like to try making listening to your inner voice a part of your everyday life, too. I’m sure you’ll find it beautiful, just as I have!