I had a question come in after last week’s episode, Sounds Like a Whisper, asking how to go about hearing the whisper. I thought this was such a great question, not only because she wanted to know how to start paying more attention to what was going on in her own mind but also because it made me really think about how to explain it without resorting to - just listen.
As I mentioned previously, music makes me see things and gives me inspiration. But sometimes a thought makes me hear music that I then have to go hunt down because I can’t quite place it. That’s what happened this time. It’s from one of my favorite artists but it’s not a song I have on any playlist so I had to resort to searching for some really obscure lyrics until I finally found it.
The artist is blues musician and five-time Grammy Award winner, Keb’ Mo’, and the song is God Trying to Get Your Attention.
Now, for any of you that know me, you might think that title wouldn’t be the most "me" song in the history of music but that’s just because you haven’t heard it yet.
You see, the song talks about all the ways you might go about paying attention to what’s going on around and within you as a way to connect with god. Everything in the song will absolutely help you connect with whatever you consider to be divine and external to you but it is also fantastic advice for identifying what’s going on in your own mind.
It all really begins with listening. But what does that mean? No, I don’t mean you’re going to necessarily hear words being spoken as if your inner dialogue - or the voice of god, for that matter - was suddenly being blasted from surround sound speakers in the room with you.
The very first step is to be quiet.
After all, you wouldn’t talk over your best friend while they were pouring out their heart to you over losing the love of their life or a parent to cancer, would you? Of course not. You’d sit quietly and ask questions appropriately when they stopped talking. You’d be compassionate if they broke down in tears and you wouldn’t judge them for not knowing how to express their feelings perfectly. You wouldn’t start talking about your to-do list, think about how you’d rather be walking through the streets of Paris, or complaining about your spouse. Nope. You’d be fully present. To quietly listen to them.
That’s what you have to be willing to do for yourself.
If you aren't willing to do that for yourself, start with figuring out why because it’s for sure what’s holding you back from hearing the whisper of your inner self and the voice of god, gods, goddesses, the divine, or your higher self - whatever and whomever it is you want to be listening to.
Why wouldn’t you want to make time to listen to what you have to say? Your relationship with yourself is the most important one you have and it’s the only one you’ll have throughout the entirety of your life. If that bit of information feels completely wrong to you - think about it for a moment. Your parents, children, spouse, best friend, and any other significant figure in your life is only transient. They either missed the beginning, the middle, or they’ll miss the end. But you get to be with you through the entire beautiful journey that is your life.
Alright, now that I have you on board with treating yourself at least as well as you would your beloved - let’s talk about how to do the thing.
I’m going to start with the two most popular options and then branch out so you can see what’s possible and hopefully spark some whispers of your own for what would work best for you.
Meditation has been used for thousands of years to make it easier for people in a wide variety of cultures to calm the incessant chatter of their mind and get closer to their own truth - whatever that may be. There are way more meditation techniques than I could ever possibly cover but what I will say is that I think meditation is sitting quietly and observing your thoughts. I don’t think it’s walking, coloring, knitting, running, swimming, or any of the other things that isn’t sitting down and listening to your mind. An easy way to figure out if you’re really listening is to ask yourself if your favorite person in the whole world needed you to listen to them about something they were truly emotional about - would you be doing the other thing at the same time? I find it very difficult to believe that the majority of people would be walking laps while talking to their best friend about a cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, or the infidelity of a spouse. Maybe you would, in which case do you - but if you wouldn’t then sit your cute little butt down and pay attention to you with the same level of interest and empathy as you’d give someone else.
Now, the goal for most forms of meditation is to eventually get your brain to settle down and shush. So what’s the point of doing meditation to listen if the goal is to make your brain be quiet. Well, the thing about meditation is that it takes a ton of practice to ever get to that chill quiet zone and all of the bits before, during, and after are filled with you noticing what your brain is yammering on about and redirecting it consciously to where you want it to go. That’s only possible if you’re listening and paying attention without judgment, just like the awesome friend you are.
The more you meditate the better you get at noticing what is being said and the easier it becomes to hear the whispers.
If you’re looking for a place to start, I loved Bliss More by Light Watkins. It was the most useful meditation resource I’ve ever used but there are SO many options out there and whatever pulls you towards it and makes it easier for you to slip into the position of observing your mind is good.
Journaling is another popular method for extracting information from the innermost chambers of your mind. The key to journaling is to do it every single day for a defined period of time. Yes, I know you don’t always have anything epic to write about and that’s the point. You want to get to the place where you’re not just filling in the mundane details of your life and you start really talking about the things running around in loops inside your head.
You can use guided journaling prompts if you need help getting started but one of the very best ways to really get to know yourself is to just write about anything and everything that you’re thinking about in the moment - either related to a specific problem you’re facing or all of the chatter that’s going on nonstop.
A great resource for this is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She calls it Morning Pages and the practice is clearly outlined in the book. Brooke Castillo and coaches who trained with her call it a thought download and that’s probably what you’ll hear me call it when I don’t call it journaling.
Why this works is because most of the time we are only listening to the surface chatter. If you’re writing a line or two about your daily schedule you’ll get further than the average person but if you’re carving out 20 minutes and thinking of it as a conversation with the person you love most in this world, you’ll arrive at your destination.
Like I said, these are the two most powerful and popular ways of getting the volume dialed up on those whispers but there are so many more ways to go about it minute by minute every day.
Meditation helps you learn to pay attention to what’s going on in your brain and journaling helps you sift through all of the sentences in your brain to find the one thought (at a time) you need to listen to.
But there is so much more available to you if you really want to discover who you are and what you want or even what the spark of the divine with which you connect wants for you.
That’s where the song comes in.
Listen to the birds, listen to the trees
Listen to the river, listen to the sea
Listen to the mountain, listen to the land
Listen to the woman, listen to the man
Listen to the rain, listen to the wind
Listen to your mind, and then listen all over again
You will notice in the world whatever it is you’re looking for. If you’re not looking for anything then that’s what you’ll find. But if you’re looking for clues to what you want to do with your life, who you want to be when you grow up, what god wants from you, or what you want from you then listen to everything and pay attention to what stands out to you.
Did the bird flying by captivate you on your walk? Look up the bird and see if you can find clues as to why.
Spend time in the forest without any tech distractions and see where your mind wanders.
Go to the beach and stare at the waves until everything else slips away and the sound lulls you back into yourself where you can daydream.
Ask a question and open a book, pull a tarot card, turn on the radio and see what shows up and then what you feel and think and respond to it.
I’ve even had other people break into song near me and found interesting thoughts as a result of the lyrics they were singing. Almost like someone was trying to send me a message.
The world is a truly magical place filled with signposts that will point you in the direction of your veracity if you’re willing to look and listen.
When was the last time you really gave yourself, your inner world, your own mind the same kind of attention, love, and care that you give your children, spouse, lover, best friend, or family? Let’s be real, when was the last time you gave yourself as much attention and love as you would your neighbor, teacher, doctor, or pizza delivery person. What’s stopping you?
Spend time with these questions and see what comes up. If you’re feeling frisky, hit me up on Instagram and share your answers with me.
Until next time, my wish is for you to like and love yourself as much or more than your most favorite person in the whole wild world.