Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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

Healing the mental blocks and noise in our minds is a big deal in this culture. That's why I'm spending so much time drilling into this topic. The healing power of silence can be profound, and I've talked with people who have had amazing experiences from taking a week-long silent Buddhist Vipassana retreat. That would probably be really intense for a lot of you. The very idea of being silent for that long (as well as meditating for so much time) probably makes your teeth ache. I can't say that it's tops on my list of things to do, although I've worked through a ton of issues on my own and in silence in different ways. A silent treat is just one more road on the spiritual path running straight at you, and there are no detours.

You're Not Crazy; You Just Have Too Many Guests
So many people in this society are afraid that they're crazy. In some ways, we really all are, but I suppose you can take some reassurance in having company. Eckhart Tolle has an awesome example in one of his books about how he realized that the "crazy" homeless man talking to himself in public was just like him. The only difference was that Eckhart wasn't saying out-loud all the things that were going on in his head. This is an important realization, and maybe it will give you a little more compassion towards those in our society who are so overwhelmed by the madness of the mind that they endlessly jabber verbally.

But with all that said, don't worry. None of this is beyond repair, easing, and re-programming. In many respects, I want you to consider this aspect of the spiritual path something like a re-programming assignment. You've let society for most of your life dictate what programs to download and install in your head. I can't imagine how much crap I'd have on my computer if I installed every new thing that sprung up on the Internet. So why should we let the same thing happen with our minds?

The Power of Naming
One of the techniques that can help you begin to organize the mess happening between your ears is to name the voices. You may be thinking that now you're really going to go crazy. But I think this is a powerful technique to engage with what's happening. Each voice is a program, and each program has a purpose. It's been put there by you or accepted by you to defend an aspect of you, achieve a desire, avoid a fear, and many other purposes. Voices that you may name can include the voices of:

  • Your mother
  • Your father
  • Another really influential person (football coach, high school English teacher, etc.)
  • Ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend or former spouse

Other voices may be labeled as the good boy/girl or bad boy/girl. Still others may be named in more of an archetype fashion such as The Judge, The Lover, or The Jester.

Clearing Out Some of the Voices
Undoubtedly, many of these voices have lost their usefulness. I don't run Windows XP anymore. With Vista and Windows 7 available, there's no point, and it would just clutter up my system to keep it. And there's no way to run two operating systems. It would probably crash my computer if I could. If you have a couple really powerful internal programs, you may feel like you're trying to operate two completely different operating systems. This happens to many in their spiritual awakening process because an old ego is being replaced by a higher vibration, spiritual ego (ego to me is not an evil thing; it's just a tool). You start to feel like you're trying to live two separate lives, and you really can't do that.

As you go through and name all these different aspects of your mind, you do need to understand their purposes. If the voice of your mother has been telling you to clean up your room and you're obsessive compulsive about this, then take a look at your room. Is it clean enough? If you are doing an adequate job with that and you're happy with it, you can start to let that voice go. You may as well talk to it (it has been talking to you a lot).

"My room is clean enough."
"But there is dust on the shelves."
"Thank you for reminding me, but it is clean enough. I have appreciated your reminders, but I no longer need this voice anymore."

This may not end the discussions immediately, but I've found gratitude goes an immensely long way towards letting go of issues and old mental programs that have lost their purpose.

Healing the Mind
Along the way, you're going to start to find moments of deeper peace in your mind. Maybe they don't come initially, but they will come. You will also start to feel empowered because you will feel less at the whim of the mind. It's been a ship on rough seas, and now you're taking the helm, starting to steer and direct it. This will entail moving through more rough seas. You've got a lot of stuff that's been lodged in your noggin, and you gotta figure out what actually belongs there and what actually serves the highest good. Your truth will start to emerge, and if you have trouble facing some of these things, I still can't encourage you to find a spiritual community for support or even a spiritual teacher. But with diligence, courage, and love, you will clear space for silence, and your amazing inner knowing will start to emerge.

Next blog: The Problems with Blind Faith
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