Listening to The Voice
by Amanda Petersen
I enjoy watching the show The Voice. Especially in the beginning where the judges hear the voice but don't see the person attached to it. This takes out the judgements that happen when we see and categorize a person. There is often look of surprise that happens when they turn around for a voice that sounds like it comes from a seasoned singer actually comes out of a 13 year old.
From a contemplative place one is invited to do the same. To hear the voices/thoughts that run through one's mind without putting a shape to them. To just neutrally listen and discern is this a voice I want to turn around for and learn more about or is this a voice I am going to pass on? The challenge is many people don't even hear the voice consciously and are giving shape to thoughts that may not be the best to live by.
For contemplatives and those who listen deeply, the voices are everywhere. I have had people I have been meeting with say "I never used to talk to myself before starting spiritual direction. If my friends knew they'd think I was nuts!” Once the awareness comes it seems the person is just surrounded by voices all day. YET with awareness comes choice. Each time one sits quietly and acknowledges the voices or holds their tongue and chooses to listen to the other person rather than the voices defining the other person they are learning to choose what to turn around for.
The Deep Voice or God is also in the center of the thoughts/ideas/imagination running through one's star mind. By paying attention, practicing, noticing, and learning to listen, one begins to hear that Divine whisper not only in themselves but also in others. The coaches on The Voice, after a lifetime of practicing themselves, have developed an ear to hear maturity, pitch and so much more.
Then comes the real fun of the show; working with who they turned around for. In that process the discernment continues until they release their discernment out into the world and, for whatever the outcome, watch what happens. It is similar for the contemplative. One turns for a whisper and then the real fun begins, the testing it out, living it out and then the letting it go and watching what happens.
It all starts with a life of practicing listening deeply. Try it this week. Pay attention to as many whispered thoughts as you can. Notice what makes you turn around and engage it. Let me know what you notice. If you have no clue where to begin, consider seeing a spiritual director or one of our other practitioners; they are wonderful "coaches".