Monday, November 15, 2010

The Healing Power of Silence: Finding Your Inner Knowing

As I continue to work through healing for issues on the mental, spiritual, and psychic planes, the power of silence becomes extremely important in this work. As I mentioned in the previous blog, mental chatter has become all too normal for most people, and it's perpetuated by a society that plays its collective stereo at top volume. So many peoples' social training in how to think and live is to create huge amounts of mental and intellectual noise. Some of it can actually be categorized as thought (directed, clear, and inquisitive--thought is very helpful). But most of the rest is noise meant to fill up empty space for a variety of reasons (people are scared of the silence; they feel alone without noise; other issues they've been avoiding suddenly appear). I mean do you really need to be listening to your iPod all day? If so, why?

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Inner Knowing Is Essential to Spiritual Awakening
When I work with a student, I can't over-emphasize the importance of developing your inner knowing. I can't possibly have all your answers. I'm honored if I even have a few. No, your answers are within you. Much of this series of blogs focusing on healing that I'm writing is directed towards getting to your inner knowing. When you align with that part of you, your intuitive intelligence emerges very quickly. It will tell you what needs to change in your life and what needs to be healed in you. That's a powerful ally, but it can't really develop in you until you're willing to face silence.

Fear of Silence
I think many people are afraid of silence. I think they're also afraid of stopping. I think part of this is that on some level many people realize that they haven't been living their lives, their dreams, their hopes. In that way, they're afraid that they're going to find out how lost they are, how bad they are, and how screwed up their lives are. And this may indeed be the case. It depends on your life. But depending on where you are, if that's what comes up for you when you stop and make space for silence, you should also know that you've entered the very space where you can heal and fix all the things that are out of alignment. That may or may not be an easy thing to do, but it will make you feel more deeply happy than any amount of noise and things you can buy to fill up your life.

Building Space for Silence
As I mentioned in the last blog, getting rid of a lot of media and external distractions is step one. Now you need to sit in it. Take a deep breath, turn everything off, and sit in silence. If you need to go some place away from where you are, that's fine. You can meditate or journal, but I'd encourage you to not even do these things. Do as little as possible. Some people are already thinking, "But I'll go crazy." No. Probably not. If anything you already are crazy--bought into all the social rules about how you should value yourself and what you should be doing. Constantly, this society tells you to "Do! Do! Do!" The spiritual path says, "Just be." See how long you can sit in a moment. And then do it again. (Please don't time yourself. This is not a competition, not even against yourself.)

While you are here, listen to the stories of your mind. Begin to cultivate the experience of the watcher or the witness. Practice listening to these stories as if they were someone else's stories. What are they telling you?
  • Are you supposed to be going somewhere? 
  • Are you supposed to be planning something? 
  • Are you not good enough?
  • Are you not rich enough? 
What are those repetitive monologues and dialogues going on in your head?

Psychosis, Severe Mental Disorders, and Demon Possession
I feel like really pushing this out to some extreme edges. Severe mental illnesses do need psychological support and the support of a spiritual teacher. We're too early in the process for people with these challenges to really try this set of exercises. Unless you feel guided to do such, these are instances where external tools are critical. While I always guide people towards their inner knowing to find their healing solutions, these are instances where the mental divisions are extremely toxic, and the ego (possibly a shattered ego) is so unable to handle life and the forces within that a lot of wise, loving, and strong support is needed to help them heal. Most people wouldn't get down into these spaces if they had the tools and abilities to get out of them.

I throw demon possession into this bunch because it is a real thing, albeit a bit of an edge case. A spiritual teacher or other very aware being would be able to tell the difference between possession and a seriously deranged mental persona. It has to do with what's going on energetically within the person, and from an energy viewpoint, it's actually relatively obvious. The only time it's less obvious is when there's a mental illness and a demon possession situation (This might occur if a person's psyche was shattered in a violent rape or war trauma, and in that shattering, their normal psychic defenses were ripped apart allowing other energies to infiltrate them). Possessing spirits are typically going to want to control and damage the host as well as other people to varying degrees. An exorcist is needed, and spiritual community support is essential to heal this particular situation.

You Can Start Breathing Again
That last section may be a little intense for people. You can start breathing again. A lot of that doesn't apply to most people.

In general, when you're sitting in silence, remember your breath. It is one of the most helpful tools to bring you into the present moment. I am always astonished how often I feel like I've been holding my breath or not breathing. I suddenly take a deep breath and feel so much better. It's incredibly relaxing. Breathing melts away any fears of a situation that I may have. The great thing about breathing is that we all have to do it, and it's free. There are breathwork classes that you can take to explore your body, heal issues, and even move into different states of consciousness. However, for the time being, just practice being in a quiet space and listening. Listen to everything you have to say. Then breathe. See if a little bit of silence starts to step in.

Compassionate Self-Questioning
As you practice this over time and as silence does start to last for more and more seconds, you can start to focus on questions to ask yourself. Be gentle. Many times, we are all so hard on ourselves. So put an intention of compassion with each question. It may not make the inner dialogues and answers easier, but it will help. Start simply with:

"Am I happy?"
"Am I where I want to be in life?"
"Am I who I want to be?"

See what answers surface. Initially, you'll probably have a lot of head noise. Maybe different aspects of your inner persona will battle it out. Some will say one thing. Others will say another. Various sides will defend the positions. Here's a good inner conversation based on the first question:

"No. I am not happy. I hate what I am doing."
"But we have a great wife and family. We should be happy."
"Well, I am not."
"You're ungrateful. You are never satisfied with anything."
"Nothing makes me happy. My job sucks. I never have time to have fun."
"You won't let yourself have fun. You work all the time."
"I have to to pay for the mortgage and all the stuff the family has to do."

This can go on for awhile, and it's not my intent to find your solution. Finding your solution is your job. And as you build more silence in your life, inspirations may pop up. An inspiration is your inner knowing saying, "Aha. How about this?" And it will come without fear or desire to control. You may have a sense of knowing coming from outside you--from a divine connection too. Wherever you sense it coming from, intuition and inner knowing will make sense. Of course, your mind may rush in to say, "No, no, no. I can't do this." But the inspiration and knowing always come first. The mind and fear come second. As you build space for silence, you can start to create a division between the two. In that space, you will find deeper comfort and peace. And through that space and being able to hear your own truth, you are going to have one of the most essential tools to healing your life.

Next blog: The Voices in Your Head: Time for a Meet and Greet


Today's picture comes from my student, Jenn.
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