I have been using a mantra to help me break free of the voices in my head. Yes, I hear voices telling me what to do, but please don’t be concerned. You probably hear the same voices. I hear a constant chatter of judgment, guilt, fear and shame. Throw in a little self-aggrandizement and wishful thinking just to keep it tolerable so I keep coming back to them, and there you have it; the voices in my head.
Oh wait, there is the narrator of the story who fills in the empty spaces by doing a play by play of my life, just in case I’m missing the action right in front of my eyes. I’ve only recently noticed this voice even though it has been talking to me all my life. Maybe that’s why I stopped noticing; it has been a daily companion for so long I forget it’s there.
I have recently chosen to commit to silencing the voices. I really think this is possible. I began by paying attention to them, which seems counterproductive at first glance, but really is the only way to begin. After all, how can I choose against something if I am unaware of it?
I almost wish I had never opened this can of worms! What a noisy place my head is! But I have set my intention and begun the work, and am fully committed to it. Since I have given my undivided attention to the voices and have a pretty clear picture of the problem, I decided yesterday that I would start the next phase of my project.
I began by asking the Holy Spirit to be in charge, to help me stay the course even when it is discouraging, and to heal my mind as we go. He is happy to do this because it is His purpose. He began His part by nudging me to listen to the Teachings of the Inner Ramana first thing in the morning. I almost ignored that one because I was in the middle of a good novel, and didn’t want to stop listening to it. Since I drive all day as part of my job it is a great time to catch up on my “reading” as I listen to recorded books. But I asked for help and there is no point in asking if I’m going to ignore the Holy Spirit’s suggestions.
Right away I heard two things that were helpful. The CD I was on began by talking about the “I” identification. This is what I think of as identifying with the ego self. He said that the best way for me to break this identification is to cease listening to the voices as if they are me. I see why the Holy Spirit directed me to this CD. Its perfect for today’s project.
Another thing that was immediately helpful was the suggestion to use a mantra to break the mind’s hold on me. He explained that while it is good to set aside my identification to “I” it is not necessary to throw out the word altogether. “I” is a symbol and it can be helpful symbol when used in the mantra, “I am that I am.” Regina adds to that mantra by saying, “I am that I am and I am nothing else,” which I like even better.
So I took the hint from the Holy Spirit and when I noticed my mind going on and on with ego thoughts, I would break the cycle with my mantra. “I am that I am and I am nothing else.” And this includes the voices in my head. As the morning went on I began to feel discouraged that there was so much chatter going on in my mind. How would I ever do this? How could anyone do it? And yet, I know it can be done. I feel it in my Heart as a true Desire.
The thing about driving all day long is that there is lots of opportunity to pay attention to the voices. I began to notice how often I was thinking that things should be different than they are. “I wish I could get through with today’s work. I wish there was not so much construction on this road. I wish it were not so cold. I wish my leg didn’t hurt. I wish I would win the lottery and quit this job. I wish my daughter would call me.” Jeez Louise! Have I always complained so much? I broke the cycle as I said my mantra again, “I am that I am…” and then surprised myself with a new ending. “I am not the whiny voice in my head.” That Holy Spirit is such a joker.
I thanked the Holy Spirit for bringing it to my attention and asked Him to show me another way to see this. He reminded me to bring these complaints back to their first generation (an idea I adapted from The Work, by Byron Katie). Ok, let’s see what that looks like.
I am driving to see my customer on a road that is undergoing construction. It is cold outside and my leg hurts. That is the only thing that is happening. Every other thought I have about this moment is the meaning I have given it. The meaning I have given it is causing me to suffer. I have decided that I prefer not to suffer. I withdraw my meaning, Holy Spirit, and ask that You write Your meaning on this moment.
Later in the day I noticed another voice. This is the voice of days past. It likes to remind me of mistakes and regrets, and this is the voice that seems to hook me every time. I was driving along, patting myself on the back for the good work I was doing, when a memory rose in the mind. I saw myself sitting next to my mother. This was the moment my mom accepted she had Alzheimer’s disease. She couldn’t remember her children’s names.
The names came back to her, only to vanish again, but this was the first time she looked into the stark face of her future and saw what it was going to cost her. She sat and cried. And I did nothing. I didn’t say anything helpful. I didn’t hold her or comfort her. I was frozen in my own fear. Each time I think of this moment I long for a do-over. I want so much to make this right.
The voice of regret brought me that memory in vivid detail as it has before. I think the self, the little me who is so closely identified with the “I” thoughts in my mind, was a little concerned at my lack of response to it all day. So it brought out the big guns, knowing that this one always holds me hostage to guilt and regret. Could I finally break its hold?
I returned to my mantra. I reminded myself that I am that I am and nothing else. I am not the regretful and guilty voice in my head. I am not the fearful woman who’s story is playing out in my memories. I never was. I am not the guilty woman held hostage to a memory. I am not that. Then who am I? Who am I Holy Spirit?
I felt the tension in my body ease, and the knot in my stomach had become began to relax. I felt the lump in my throat melt. I felt the tears on my face dry and the weight of guilt lift from my shoulders. I felt peaceful. I smiled. I felt forgiveness wrap me in its embrace. I felt gratitude.
All of this came not as a result of more thoughts, but at the surrender of thought. I broke the ego’s hold on me when I made the choice for God by asking to see this differently. Choosing to turn from the voice of separation made a place in my mind for the Holy Spirit to grace me with forgiveness. The ego would use this memory to convince me I am the separated self, the weak and vulnerable self. But the Holy Spirit uses the same memory to remind me that I am not that. I am God’s blessed child, His holy Son in whom He is well pleased. I cannot think my way to that place. I can only surrender to that place.
I woke up to the voices in my head this morning. It seems that they rise before me, and are there waiting. But my mantra was there as well. I am that I am. I am nothing else. This morning I don’t feel discouraged by the work ahead. I look forward to it. It seems it is to be a glorious day! A day filled with opportunities to remember my true identity.