What to do after you have heard your inner voice.....
The term 'inner voice' is banded about a lot in the world of therapy, yoga and all sorts of 'alternative' practices - by which i mean practices that encourage us to step out of the waking dream of our daily lives.
What is our inner voice though? It is the truth that you absolutely know to be true, we all have an inner voice talking to us, guiding us in the wisest way to lead our lives. Most of us don't even get to the point of ignoring it though, we are so busy believing what society tells us is correct and then acting in the way that we think we should or behaving as we think we should. that we have drowned out the inner voice entirely and it is no more than a faint whisper.
So first of all, it can take a very long time for us to actually hear our inner voice again. where is it located? Certainly not in one physical spot, although our physical body may hold reflections of our inner emotional state for sure. But it can seem like our body is telling us what to do, the inner voice is also called listening to your gut and of course the gut is sometimes called the second brain of the body, but I don't think we should get carried away with pinning it to one particular location - it is much more subtle than that.
To hear the inner voice we need to be still, not physically, although that might well help, but a much deeper entire stillness. A stillness of the whole being. We all avoid this stillness, this 'doing nothing' because it is contrary to everything we believe about the world - that we should always be busy, we should be striving towards something, an imaginary destination - yet we find that destination is always shifting, ever eluding us, we chase ever more, less and less still in our frustration to find that stillness though action....its a very bizarre situation!
To listen to you inner voice is the most natural thing in the world and when we learn stillness, through meditation or any other practice we will start to hear it more clearly. The more that we listen out for it, the easier it will be to hear. After all, if you dont listen to someone speaking, eventually theylly stoop bothering - so it can take time for your inner voice to begin a dialogue with you again.
But the title of this piece is 'Not just About Listening to Your Inner Voice' and that is because it isn't that simple. With dedication we can all hear our inner voice, but to trust it and to follow its advice, against the constant anxiety and fear projected by out thinking mind is another matter altogether.
You have to trust that voice, however scary it is to do so. If yo hear the real inner voice, you will know its the truth, there will be no question, but still you have to take the next step to implement that advice.
I have had several conversations around this topic during the past month, with different people in different situations. In fact they have all pretty much told me they feel strongly that they should be doing such and such, but find themselves not following that feeling. The result is confusion and a sense of life becoming a struggle. There is resistance to the inner voice, and because the inner voice is the natural flow of life, it feels very much like trying to swim against the current when you ignore it.
You will want me now to give you a mass of advice or some tools on how to trust that inner voice, but Im afraid that there aren't any. You either trust it or you don't. you dive into the flow of life and see where it sweeps you, or you stay safely in your known boundaries and wonder 'what if...'
I haven't written a newsletter for over a month. Ive barely posted anything on social media, I stopped hosting my evening chats during lockdown. There was no specific reason for these, I hadn't thought about them long and hard, I just intuitively felt that I didn't want to do them. I even tried to write a different essay for this very newsletter several times over the past month or so, but each time I got half way and deleted it, the topic just didn't feel right. It felt clunky and like I was forcing it because I thought that I should write a newsletter.
So maybe the key is to stop doing the things that you think you should and just follow the that that you feel instead,
After all, our thoughts and the mind constructed from them are not who who really are, they are just what we just imagine ourselves to be.
Copied from my article for the Soul circus Journal here
Yoga Like Water so much more than yoga, I’ll say that for starters - or maybe less than yoga, it depends how you look at it I suppose. That isn’t entirely an accident, it is by some sort of organic design.
Right from the start we knew that we wanted to embrace as many like minded individuals as possible, and an awful lot of those don’t practice ‘yoga’ in the generally accepted - touch your toes and hum ‘OM’ - sense of the word.
Their yoga might be parkour, free diving, contemporary dance, surfing, making music or art - you name it, if they are obviously in the flow of life then that’s all we need to know. They are basically doing the same thing as us.
I think it is this openness to absolutely anyone that has allowed us to meet so many incredible humans over the years. Embracing all of these diverse sets of opinions, methods, styles and so on has been a lesson to others who might be more close minded, that essentially we are all the same. We are all on the same journey but by different routes. Absolutely everyone has something of value to share, they might just not realise it yet - that’s one of the core principles of Yoga Like Water.
I would say, our 200 hour ‘Teacher Training’ is the backbone of our community, because over the years it has bought the most people into the Yoga Like Water circle. In reality we call it "an immersion" because it certainly never feels like we are training anybody. We learn as much from the students as they do from us, and that isn’t a cheap throwaway soundbite.
We always say that the teachers in training crew guide the feel and energy of every training and that is totally true. We have never had two, year long adventures that have felt even remotely the same. It could be said that all of our immersions, the 200 hours and the ‘further’ explorations, are community run.
Even the content is constantly changing and evolving. We now have past students sharing their in depth and niche knowledge with new intakes. For example, we've had physiotherapists working with the human animal model share their experiences with real, damaged human bodies, mime artists share incredible ways in which to hold space and project yourself as a teacher, free-dive record holders sharing their wisdom about the breath, Chinese martial arts wizards opening our eyes to different ways of appreciating energy flow, posture and movement. All of these community contributions make the Yoga Like Water circle unique and ever changing.
This desire to keep changing comes from a grounding that everyone questions everything - including us. We don’t set up shop and suggest in any way that what we are sharing is ‘right’, or the ‘best’ way - it is just an opinion and a perspective on things, no more or less valid than anyone else’s. That develops a strong sense of equality, that anyone in that teacher training room might say something that blows us all away.
I don’t think we ever set out to intentionally create or nurture any sort of ‘Yoga Like Water’ community; anyone who knows us well would laugh hysterically at that idea! We never even intended to start the first teacher training, but that’s another story altogether. Gemma and I are way too disorganised, random and spontaneous to look ahead at ‘developing’ something over time. We are also inherently quiet people - quite happy with our own company, bimbling along. We are, however, open to just allowing things to unfold naturally. This is why we love how serendipity has seen this extended family grow around us entirely naturally.
From a business point of view we are pretty hopeless and happily so. We've never had a business plan, meaning we are never planning to upsell future projects or alternative agendas. We have had several opportunities to expand the Yoga Like Water ‘thing’ vastly over the years, but have never had any interest to do so. It just didn't sit right with us, perhaps because we feel like it would pollute any true sense of community right from the core.
I suppose we have a loose idea for the future and have had for some time, in which we find a space that is there to be used by any of the crew - past or future. A place where we can all be outdoors, ideally near to the sea and just do our thing in peace. Not a commune or a community (hippies that we are, we both love our quiet family life too much for that) but certainly enough space that we could hold camping weekends for free for the extended Yoga Like Water family. To offer a tranquil get away when anyone in the crew needs it or finds themselves homeless. Even now we have a constant stream of visiting teachers staying upstairs in the attic through the year of teacher training weekends. It’s lovely to have all this energy in the place and to allow that to ebb and flow as people come and go.
If anything, this is a lesson in the most anarchic and spontaneous way of simply watching a ‘community’ to develop - by allowing everyone to be who they are and accepting that as perfect. There are so many diverse characters, from all over the world who, just like us, have their odd ways: the brilliant face of their diamond and the grubby side. But that is what makes them all so memorable.
I never complain about what we do, because I genuinely feel very lucky to just be a part of it, I don’t want to run anything, or be in charge of anything. I never have - I’m way too lazy. But to be a part of something that has grown from nothing, however loose that is, is pretty cool.