Another bottle of ketchup hits the floor and I think, “They are gonna fire me for sure!” My proclivity for graceless movements result in a lot of spilled drinks and broken dishes during my summer of waitressing. Having just relocated to Chicago and in between gigs, I was grateful to have a job, even if it wasn't my calling. Despite the sweaty, sticky hustle of waiting tables and refinishing the floor with a mix of beverages, condiments, and not-so-fine china, there was a particular blessing by way of a regular customer named Ed.
Ed was a seasoned car mechanic who worked across the street from the restaurant. Everyday, he came in for lunch and placed the same order of a tuna fish sandwich on rye with a cup of coffee. Ed had zero pretense— what you saw was what you got. He was honest, open, and at ease with himself. He could see right through my nervous energy and youthful illusions. One time, I finished my complaint about the day's current problem with, "I just don't know what to do!" Ed responded evenly, "Maybe you don't know what to do, but it will come to you." I stopped in my tracks and repeated out loud, "I don't know what to do, but it will come to me." I didn't know what a mantra was back then, but still, I took this phrase to heart and carried it with me in the years since because it provided a modicum of solace.
Since then, I have learned a profound understanding by holding this phrase, meditating on it, and repeating it times of uncertainty. If I stop thrashing around the anxiety of the future and get up from sitting in the muck of despair, I am able to listen to and hear the still small voice that whispers from the core of my being. "It will come to me" means pruning back the persistent and nagging automatic thoughts that like to retell the story of the past and rehearse the entirety of the future all while ignoring the present moment. Clarity can only arrive in the present moment; it's not lost to the past or buried in the future. The great Buddhist teacher, Osho, explain it this way:
"Watch every act that you do. Watch every thought that passes in your mind. Watch every desire to takes possession of you. Watch even small gestures—walking, talking, eating. Go on watching everything. Let everything become an opportunity to watch. And when you watch, a clarity arises. The more watchful you become, the more all your hastiness slows down, your chattering mind chatters less."
One of the places that I hear my inner voice is in meditation. Whether I am in seated meditation, walking meditation, or washing-the-dishes meditation, I am able to let go of the story line of any situation and learn to listen to the heart of the moment. In this space, I grow more still, less judgmental, curious and filled with increasing compassion for myself as I truly am, which spills over to compassion for life and others. The more comfortable I am being in the very moment, the more easily I can hear answers to the question, "What’s next in my life?"
Ed was right.
Getting to Know that Still Small Voice
Maybe you feel frightened by the idea of slowing down, listening, and hearing the wise beating of your heart. The practice of pausing and listening without judgement or expectation is in many ways counter to how we have been taught to walk through life— fast paced, always moving, constantly striving, disavowing emotions, and ignoring the quiet tugging that comes from within. Psychotherapy offers a safe place in which you can allow yourself to be heard by a trusted other. Through the process of therapy, it's possible to learn new ways in which to honor the voice that is aching to be heard. There is hope and it can be found at the Center for Vitality and Balance.
Call (630) 286-0993 today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss what challenges you and how our services can support you.
Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the practice of meditation because there are so many ways to meditate and you're convinced it's just not a possibility for you. Our 21-day self study meditation course is designed to help students unlearn some common misconceptions about mindfulness, learn easy techniques to add meditation to your daily routine, and feel supported and encouraged as you build a personalized practice of being fully present to now.