For as far back as I can remember, I enjoyed 8-9 hours of sleep a night. It didn’t matter what time I went to bed, whether it was 10 at night or 3 in the morning I would still get my 8-9 and wake up feeling rested.
A couple of years ago, that all changed. Could be my age, lifestyle, vitamin levels — I really don’t know. What I do know is that I fought the change every step of the way.
I chewed melatonin tablets, downed l-theanine powder, and swallowed any other supplement known to induce sleep. I tried diet hacks like eating easily digestible, fat-rich foods such as avocados or olives before bed. And when I woke at 3 in the morning I munched on high-sugar fruits like dried figs or dates so I could ride the blood-sugar crash back to dreamland. I exercised more, quit drinking tea in the evening, and stayed away from LED screens an hour before bed.
Some of this actually worked — for a night or two.
So I would lay in bed experimenting with various meditation techniques. After entering a thought-free state, I discovered that when I rolled over on my side I’d drift back to sleep. But as time went on, even that failed. My mind and body became like rippleless water, but the Z’s still wouldn’t come.
What does any of this have to do with the arguments we have with our inner voice?
In the back of my mind, when I was lying in the dark, I’d have this feeling I wasn’t supposed to be there. A quiet voice was telling me to get up, go sit in front of my computer, and write. But it was 2 or 3 or 4 AM, and I’d only gotten several hours of shut eye. So I ignored the voice and tried to rest.
The months went by, and I had some amazing middle-of-the-night marathon meditations. But there was a kind of restlessness building inside me, like a static that grew louder and louder over time.
Finally, the voice came through the static and — in its silent way — told me to quit fighting and stay awake. “Rise,” it said, “forget about sleep.” I resisted for a while longer, curling into a fetal position and pulling the covers higher up over my head like a teenager refusing to get up for school.
But eventually I surrendered to the call. I rose from the bed, tiptoed out of the room, and sat down in front of the computer.
I’ve never been a morning person. As a kid, I half-slept through the first few classes of every school day. But that morning, at 4 AM, I sat down and the energy rose up from within me and took over.
The effortless flow of words I’d always sought rushed forth and filled the screen. I didn’t make lists or outlines or stop to edit or second-guess any choice of words, I just opened to what wanted to come through.
I kept my fingers moving across the keyboard for about two hours, then grew tired, went back to bed, and slept like a baby. The next morning, I did the same.
A wall of resistance broke open inside of me that had been holding back my creative flow. This was a self-reinforced wall built by my limiting beliefs and obstinance. For years, I’d been locked in a silent battle with my inner self-knowing. But that day I decided to respond to my inner voice rather than argue with it.
Since then, some of my most inspired writing sessions have come during the hours I used to spend lying awake in bed attempting to pick the lock on the gates of sleep-land.
How We Argue With Our Inner Voice
The purpose of this article is not to encourage you to sleep less. Though the stillness of the early morning hours do have a certain magic to them, many people in our fast-paced world are sleep-deprived and could benefit from more slumber, not less. Instead, my desire is to encourage you to look within and discover the ways in which you may be resisting the guidance of your Higher Self.
In my case, when I chose to listen rather than ignore the call, I went from struggling to get words on the page, to trying to type fast enough to keep up. My ego had been saying, “I’m not a morning person. I need 8-9 hours of solid sleep to function well during the day.” Those were limiting beliefs I had to overcome in order to follow my bliss.
This is just one example of the many ways I have argued with my inner voice and resisted its direction. I continue to find more walls every day and to do my best to knock them down.
Here’s a few common arguments people have with their inner wisdom:
Just one more
Just one more bite of ice cream… one more drink… one more hour of sleep… one more date with this person I know is not my match.
While your ego is using the “just one more” sales pitch, your inner-voice is urging you to detach from the situation and move on. But you push the higher knowing away and continue scoop out the ice cream, or down another shot of whiskey, until you give yourself a stomach ache or pass out on the floor.
Tomorrow I will start my workout routine. Or, next week I promise to quit smoking cigarettes.
As you know, tomorrow never comes. The tomorrow trap has decimated many dreams. It’s the putting off of the pursuit of your higher desires to some point in the future that never ends up arriving. Before you know it, you’re eighty-years-old and still haven’t started writing that novel or learning to play piano.
After this, then this
This is another version of tomorrow, only there’s a clause in there. You will begin to live in the way your inner-voice is directing you to live, but you’ll start only after something you perceive as holding you back is removed from your life.
“After I retire I’ll start traveling to new places.”
“I’m going to divorce my abusive husband… after the kids move out”
“After I have a million dollars in the bank I’ll stop working so much.”
The problem with this is that you never meet the conditions you set because you keep moving the goal-line. If you manage to save back a million dollars, you’ll convince yourself you need two million to make up for inflation. When you retire, you’ll put off the trip to Greece until you finish working on the house. Or until your grandkids get older.
Attachments and Aversions
The above examples are just a few of the ways we argue with our inner voice. There are countless others. But all of them stem from either our attachments or aversions, which is another way of saying that they emerge from our egoic desires and fears.
Think about it for a moment. When do you most resist your inner guidance?
It’s when you’re being directed to do something you’re afraid of doing, right? Or when you’re being guided to let go of something you’re attached to.
This holds true even in the relatively trivial example of “just one more bite of ice cream.” You’re attached to the pleasurable explosion of sweetness across your tastebuds. You keep going back for one more hit of ice cream ecstasy even though you know you should put the spoon down. That simple knowing is your inner voice.
It’s there when you’re sitting on the couch binging on Netflix. Deep down, you know that you should get up and go for a jog or clean the house, but you ignore that knowing and let Netflix do what it is designed to do — autoplay the next episode. You’re attached to the energetic state you’re in and would rather stay there instead of responding to the call to change states and move into action.
Fear works from the opposite side of your psyche. It keeps you in place through the force of repulsion.
You feel a higher desire within you to plan a public exhibition of your artwork, go back to school for your medical degree, or to speak in front of a group about something you’re passionate about. But you ignore the call to action because of the fear that holds you in place.
The mind in fear will come up with a million reasons why you shouldn’t act. It will use logic and reasoning to convince you to stay in a job you hate because it’s the safe and responsible choice. Or to remain in an unhealthy relationship because it’s better for the kids. Or because you won’t be able to make it on your own.
Attachments and aversions are the static that tunes out the inner voice which is trying to guide you toward higher states of being. But if you can learn to push through your fears and let go of those things which limit you, you will rise. Because the direction your Spirit is trying to lead you is always toward a greater level of happiness.
I’ll be happy when…
Your inner-voice is always directing you to feel the happiness and serenity of your true nature now. But your belief that something stands in the way blocks that experience.
The mystics have all told us that spiritual bliss exists in the here-and-now and that we can only experience it from within. You will not find true ecstasy through the consumption or attainment of things. It doesn’t come from holding on to the way things have always been. It can only be known when you dissolve your belief that the external world has to fall into some perfect astrological alignment in order for you to be happy. That time will never come.
How to Be a Better Listener
Do you remember, as a kid, being engrossed in a game or TV show and hearing your mother call to you? You heard her, but pretended not to. It wasn’t until she raised her voice or stormed into your hideout that you were forced to acknowledge her. You’re still doing the same thing today.
At any given moment, you know what you should be doing. I’m not talking about what your parents, religious leaders, teachers, or societal laws have told you what to do. I’m talking about following your own inner compass.
You don’t need anyone to tell you what’s best for you because you already know. You just choose to ignore your own wisdom. And if you’re like most people, you will go on ignoring your Higher Self until you reach some kind of crisis. Or until you come to a point where you can’t go on living with yourself for another day without pursuing your dreams.
Like mom, your Higher Self is looking out for you. It’s attempting to guide you toward greater levels of happiness and fulfilment. And if you can learn to listen, and then act on the guidance you receive, your life will be transformed.
Here’s a few ways to develop your spiritual listening skills:
Cultivate a daily practice of meditation
The daily practice of meditation quiets the mental field and refines the nervous system. It helps create more space between thoughts. And it’s within those silent spaces where you can most clearly experience the “sound” of your inner voice.
The practice I have personally found most effective is Rudra Meditation. You can learn more about that here. There are many great practices out there, so if you have struggled with meditation before, try another form until you discover one you most resonate with.
Tune-in to your body
I grew up around four chiropractic uncles who frequently said things like:
“The power that made the body heals the body.”
“Above down, inside out.”
“Nature needs no help, just no interference.”
They knew, from their experience with their patients and families, that the body has an innate wisdom. Get rid of the interference, and that wisdom will shine through.
A properly attuned body acts as an antennae which receives signals from your Higher Self. Those signals are easy to read.
When you’re feeling good, when you’re experiencing joy and love, you’re heading in the right direction. When feeling bad and immersed in low-energy emotions such as hatred and apathy, you’re heading the wrong way.
A quick body scan from time to time will serve as a diagnostic tool that lets you know if you’re on the course you wish to be on.
Ask your heart
Think of your inner voice as a high frequency broadcast coming through your subtle energy channels (aka nadis or meridians). An easy way to tune into that frequency is through the hubs of energy (chakras) where those channels intersect.
The heart center, located in the middle of the chest, is one of the easiest chakras to feel. Bring your attention here and ask inside for guidance:
In this moment, am I acting in accordance with my higher desires?
If you feel contraction and tension in the heart chakra, you’re heading into trouble. If you feel a relaxed expansiveness, you’re doing the right thing.
Spend more time in silence
Social media, TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, and books have one thing in common — they’re all filled with other people’s ideas and opinions.
If you want to be Self-reliant, you need to disconnect from the constant influence of others. This means not only turning off your phone, but spending more time in solitude.
Leave your earbuds at home and go for a walk through the woods, sit by the river and watch it flow, or just turn off the TV and do nothing but rest in the silence. This time alone clears the static and gives space for new insights to arise. It empties your mind from external influences and allows room for the creativity within you to surface.
Q&A Journaling – An Interview With Your Higher Self
Whether you handwrite, text, type, or speak into a voice recorder, the idea with this technique is to get quiet inside, ask your Higher Self a question, and then write down whatever answer comes through.
In order for this to work, you have to mute your inner-critic’s microphone. Don’t stop to edit or think of a better choice of words, just write what comes. What fills the page just might amaze you.
Responding to the Call
The next step, of course, is to act on the guidance you receive. It’s one thing to know the right action to take in any given moment and another to actually live in accordance with that knowing.
The word “responsibility” describes this well. One of the definitions given in the Oxford dictionary is: “the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.”
To be responsible, in the sense I mean here, is to refrain from searching for answers from any authority outside of your Self. You have the “opportunity or ability” to look within, listen to your inner guidance, and then act independently of the thoughts and opinions of others.
Learn to respond to your own higher internal counsel, and you will be led toward greater and greater states of happiness and Self-discovery.
The key here is to act now. In this moment. And then the next. Before long, you will have built a sequential flow of right actions with the power to transform your world.