We can get so caught up in our everyday experience that we forget to pause, look around at our environment, and hear our inner voice. We respond automatically to situations and triggers without pausing to reflect and choose a more appropriate response.
As I wrote in a previous post about meditation, when I first started meditating, it became clear that (quite often) my body may be present, but my mind is absent from my daily life and interactions. Things like day-dreaming, planning for uncertain outcomes, worrying about the future, and poring over the past can occupy my mind at any given time. My racing thoughts are a silent (but powerful!) driver and stressor.
I have come to recognize that there are times when I might be engaging with a situation in the present, but because my mind is in another space or time, my responses may not be directly related to the present situation. Instead, I might be responding to past experiences and future fears. If I am not mentally present, I can go into autopilot and senselessly (and ineffectively) react to a situation or person.
I’ve included some readings and exercises that offer us a chance to pause and hear our inner voice. These exercises will also offer the chance to begin encouraging your intuition to come out and be heard. Once your inner voice starts making itself heard, you have the chance to start trusting it.
I recommend starting with the Selective Attention Test (http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html). As the creators of this test state, “This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much.” If this is the case then it naturally follows that “…many other intuitive beliefs that we have about our own minds might be just as wrong.”
Another helpful exercise for me has been dream analysis. Keep a journal and take notes on your dreams as soon as you wake up. You can write first thing each morning or only when you have a particularly vivid dream. Try to include as many details as you can remember (colors, words, numbers, people you know, etc). Think about your overall impressions of the dream and the feelings that arose with each different aspect of the dream. The more often you practice remembering your dreams and writing them down, the easier it will be. Some helpful resources for dream interpretation are: http://psychology.about.com/od/statesofconsciousness/p/dream-interpret.htm and http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/.
As a way of centering and calming myself so that I can actually become aware of my thoughts and then gently guide them, here are some great free guided meditations from UCLA available here: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22. I’ve also used the morning pages exercise from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” (http://www.amazon.com/The-Artists-Way-Julia-Cameron/dp/1585421464) as a way of encouraging my inner voice and starting to counteract my inner critic.
I would love to know what you think of the exercises and ideas presented here. I invite you to leave your thoughts in the comments!