Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hearing The Still Small Voice

In an email exchange with a friend the topic of "intuition" came up. It ties in deeply with the things I have been trying to capture in my studio lately (eek, capture, that sounds a bit like I'm chasing a fly around the house). As part of a project on "seeking authentic voice" I have been turning my attention to "listening" and patience during my studio time. I have had mixed success with both. Given I'm not a particularly patient person (who, moi, as Miss Piggy would say) I expected patience and listening to happen right away! I learned these are skills that, well, get this, take patience to develop. (Duh, as Homer Simpson would say) Where do these guys come from??

But when my friend talked about intuition, I began to revisit the "listening" aspect of practice. Gasp, I learned I'm not the greatest listener! I recognized that cultivation of that "still small voice" requires the willingness to just sit and be with the canvas in the same way you would be with a friend who is telling you some story from their life, something important and arresting. If the voice is still and small, it requires quiet and attention, right? Otherwise in my busyness, my need to get on with things, get something done, exert my wants, I drown out that voice.

I think we have to be willing, willing to do what needs to be done to hear this voice, willing to clear a space for it, willing to be available, willing to explore and be quirky and creative in that exploration, and ultimately, willing to receive. I think of myself as this little short wave radio set, just tuning in to see what's out there. And then of course having faith once I find a channel that's not all static, to believe that this is a channel that I am supposed to be listening to. John Daidoo Loori talks alot about this receptive state in his wonderful book, "The Zen of Creativity"

Here's what Jisho Perry of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives has to say on listening for that still small voice:
"Most of the time we are not quiet enough to hear anything other

than the noisy demands of our greeds, angers, worries,

fears, frustrations and the "busyness" of our everyday lives.

Our culture encourages a constant input of noise: the music

in elevators, or while waiting on the phone, car radios, car

phones, television, radios, headsets to wear while exercising.

We have a difficult task to find a quiet time when there is

not a major input of external noise. Even when we have

established a time in our day for meditation, when we can

listen to the silence, it is usually anything but silent. It still

takes time to let go of the internal noises we generate for

ourselves. If we establish a regular practice of meditation we

create a situation where the noise and busy mental

processes can settle."

So I am heading into the studio with my headset on and my magic decoder ring. I'll send you a picture. I am really going for it. I will strap a pair of those old rabbit ears onto my head. You know those ones we used to put on the TV. Remember those. And when the reception was particularly difficult we'd put some tinfoil on the round tips at the ends. Pass the tinfoil, please.


  1. good ... i have written about intuition and about the still " small inner voice of self " two days back. To listen the small voice we have to practice listening... through meditation ( with mind balanced ) we can start listening... any way happy day .. keep moving...

  2. I'll have some of that aluminum foil please. And I think my voice responds well to humor.

  3. Reminds me of the phrase "ET phone Home..."Just hold up your finger to receive the frequency - when you hit it, your finger lights up :)

    I just realized reading your post that Intuition is my "missing inner compass"! Ah-ha, Sherlock, you have sleuthed it out with your magnifying glass from New Years...

    More time in "the Cave" - listening - for me! :)

  4. ilovemylife - great name! Liked your post on intuition and the quotes you gather. happy day in return!

    Leslie - passing the foil. and what is the day without humour?

    MeANderi - it is a lot like ET phone home! Glad you found your compass. Knew that hat and magnifying glass were gonna come in handy! Happy spelunking!

  5. Gosh, this is too funny! I've been fighting an urge to shave my head - the delusion being I might hear myself better if I didn't have this weave of interference on my skull... Hmmm... OTOH perhaps we should stick with our wireless D-Links? I don't mean to be critical but I don't think that foil doesn't do much for your complexion... ;-) Love the wabbit ears though!


  6. Intuition is an amazing thing. I think this is also something that should be taught in schools (along with meditation, which some teachers are now starting to do) so that as children, we remember to trust those voices telling us what we need to know. So much of that skill can be washed away by socialization...

  7. Genju - too cold for head shaving in Ottawa! Yes perhaps I should go for the wireless reception. Chucking out that foil right now!

    spirit that moves - I so agree about schools. So much of what is taught is quickly forgotten and of questionable value. Yes these are the important things, things that will serve us well for the rest of our lives.

  8. I think finding our authentic voice- by listening and paying attention to our inner dialogues- is an ongoing process- because we are exposed to new experiences all the time and how we react and respond will affect our intuition and voice as we search-- a continuous cycle I think.

  9. thank you for ur post and comment...we are born in to a noisy world.. and fortunately we were lucky enough.. but now a days kids born in to a too noisy world.. and the so called elders and parents feed them about our beliefs and to much electronic things are available for them to interact.. it need quite mind .. to listen the still smaller voice.. we must give them the space to think and listen.. a quite atmosphere sitting together every day can do and prayers to all..

  10. i am smiling, carole... the patience part produced an especially big (and knowing) grin.

    oh, pass the tin foil please.


  11. Thanks Carole
    This is wonderful wisdom start to finish.
    I always detect the twinkle in your eye.

    As I read your words the only sound with me is the quiet breathing of my sleeping pup a perfect back drop for your timely message.

  12. layers - yes this makes perfect sense since we are always moving, growing and changing, that our intuition will too. and yes by paying attention to these inner dialogues, this intuition muscle becomes stronger.

    Ilmyl - nothing like quiet to tune in to our inner voice.

    lynne- tin foil over to you

    merci33- twinkling. sounds like an idyllic winter setting.

  13. you must look pretty cute with those rabbit ears on. Even sitting in quiet hoping to hear the still small voice almost feels a bit like too much trying to me. for me, the still small voice may arise from the space of silence or it may just arise when it wills not when I will. It may arise from impulse toward action with no thought or from racing from here to there and then boing. Have a lovely time in yr studio.

  14. its true Suki, that voice can arise anywhere. Reminds me that the shower is a place where I sometimes hear that voice. For me too much business drowns out the voice though. Perhaps it's how to tuned in you are to that voice? Perhaps it's how much you believe in that voice?

  15. I came back again for your MY7LINKS post...funny pup is still the only sound...aside from my fingers on the keys that is...

    quiet...don't leave home without it '-)