I hear voices. Most of the time the voices are one or another intonation from what I consider to be my usual discursive or directive mind. However, every now and then a strange voice shows up that doesn’t “sound” like me. It doesn’t have a tone or feel or flavor or scent I readily recognize. And it tends to show up as something other than the emergent narrative my neural network regularly generates. Also, it usually shows up offering guidance, which I’m rarely very keen on receiving or acting upon, thank you.
I must be mellowing in my old age, because recently I’ve begun giving some thought and making some space for the still small voice to show up in my life more often. But not without negotiating certain parameters for it. Either show up the way my skeptical, cognitive, scientist brain needs you to, or don’t bother. Here are some qualities I use to make sure my Inner Psychopath is off the grid when the voice comes through.
Manacles On / Manacles Off – I once worked myself into a job where all I had to do was show up and play the equivalent of video games for fun all day long. I had no boss and no job requirements and was free to come and go as I pleased. I made enough money to buy a boat, a plane, a new Corvette and my very own house. A dream job, right? Imagine what my Wild Mind did when my still small voice announced: “You have to quit your job.” At the time I had little doubt that this was the voice of my Inner Psychopath. But of course, it was the voice of wisdom doing it’s best to guide me onto a more spiritually mature path. That path became crystal clear when another voice – that of a real, embodied, living Sufi wise man directed: “Provide shelter for people.” That advice led to a successful, life-saving, 25 year house-building career. And now a Prayer Podz building career.
Later, when I became curious about why I was given the internal directive to leave my work-free job and began to reflect upon it, I realized a number of things. With my basic life necessities covered, I needed something meaningful to actually work and make money FOR. Otherwise, I was a prisoner to money-making for money-making’s sake. It turned out that being of service to other people tended to make me pay considerably less attention to my insatiable, ever-changing ego needs. In The Land of Ego Needs there be many dragons.
Cilantro Voice – Recovering Ob-Gyn Lissa Rankin hears voices as well. One way she checks to insure that it’s not her own IP (Inner Psychopath) giving orders is by paying attention to the tone the voice uses when it speaks to her. If it’s authoritative, harsh and demanding, then she’s pretty sure it’s her IP. But if her still small voice is sweet and gentle, non-judgmental and undemanding – what she calls “Cilantro Voice” – then she’s much more receptive to the guidance she’s receiving. It makes organic, herbal sense to me.
Suffering Up / Suffering Down – do my adrenals respond by turning off the stress hormone cascade? This is sometimes a difficult measure to make. Hearing my still small voice tell me to quit my job, was not without some stress. But once I did manage to give notice and actually get out of the building, to my great surprise I found myself washed over by a completely unexpected calm. A very similar experience happened when my still small voice told me to take my Ph.D. and my multiple California contractor’s licenses and go take a maintenance man position at a Stanford Think Tank … where I joyfully worked for 10 years, learning much about my brain in the process!
Neuroceptive Resonance – Is there something about the voice or what it says that enables me to at least glimpse the possibility of safety, security, and/or survival in my life? Several years ago when the Voice told me to leave the San Francisico Bay Area where I’d lived for 30 years and move to an offshore island (Whidbey, near Seattle), it did give me certain pause. But now, after eight years and more than eight trips back to the drought-ridden and climate-changed Bay Area, it’s hard to make a case that my still small voice gave me bad direction.
Visionary Guidance – Is my still small voice pointing me to something that might lead to one or more of my heart’s deepest desires? Is it activating my imagination, intimating inspired, creative possibilities of what might be? Is it “inviting me deeper into the mystery?” If so, and even if it’s suggesting something that I might not be initially comfortable with, I am probably well-served to take the guidance to heart. Since growth and change is a basic human, spiritual and neurobiological need, I might as well follow a direction that potentially inspires.
Separation Verses Connection – Is the download I’m receiving designed to get me more connected with people or moving me more in the direction of the illusion of separation? As a means of measuring, I often use Jill Bolte Taylor’s description of Unity Consciousness that she discovered after her language network centers stroked out. She was able to clearly see and experience the interconnection of all people, places and things at the level of energy just dancing. No Inner Psychopath operating there.
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