By Georgi Y. Johnson
About a decade ago, two psychiatrists and a team of student psychiatrists asked me if I hear voices in my head. “Why, don’t you?” I answered. They looked grandiosely disapproving and all simultaneously ticked something in their notepads. Oh dear.
OK, with three babies under the age of two, living in a strange country, alienated from a foreign culture, investigating non-conventional terrorism and what (in 1999) I feared was an international threat from Al Qaeda, I had become out of balance and was having panic attacks. Three babies, a conventionally ‘damaged’ childhood, the outgrown hippy lifestyle and the advent of the espresso machine didn’t help.
But how did hearing voices in the head become a criteria for the psychiatric condemnation they call diagnosis?
An Inner Calling
The voices in my head, not the voices (or weird medication) of the psychiatrists are the guides that were to show me the way back to balance.
Luckily for me, I listened to them and refused the drugs. Luckily for me, these voices midwifed the death process of a tired and worn ego structure through which I had paddled through life prior to child birth. They laid that old form to rest in a sea of light, and took what was left, from feet upwards, on a path of healing, renewal and understanding. They are the ones that oversaw the passage from one form of personhood to the next, along its bumpy path and through all its twists and turns.
In the depression that emerged after the period of anxiety, it was these voices, speaking from the gut upwards towards a troubled and despairing mind, that showed me a break in the clouds on a rainy day in the UK, telling how just as the weather changes, so do the moods, but showing the infinity of the sky behind all weather, always blue, always endless, always here.
Often called the Still Small Voice, these voices of guidance can appear to resonate from outside of ourselves. They can sound from above the head (not often objectively, but in a way that we could think we are imagining them), or they can sound from our gut, quietly, calmly and unconditionally.
These are the kind of voices that when you decide a perfect plan of action from the head, and consult the gut, could quietly answer “No”. They often don’t say much (and in my case seem to compact meaning into poetry), but they are directly to the point with an almost impersonal overview of time and space that is impossible for the local mind to grasp.
In a way, the Still Small Voice, often tells you, directly from the vast store of unconscious impressions, where the land lies, while the mind remains caught in its own story and agenda. As such, the Still Small Voice can seem irrational from the perspective of the “rational” mind, yet I have learned never to ignore it. Even if its transmission is just a feeling of discomfort, it’s enough to just wait.
Later on, I took to channelling: directly contacting these voices with automatic writing. I received advice and guidance that is still applicable today. Yet when I asked these guides who they were, they answered: “I am the undercurrent of your own mind, sweet face.” Psychologically quite a sane answer, no?
The many voices in the head
There are many voices in our way-to-busy minds. Some of them are programs, like repeating records, often acquired at a young age. These voices tend to be flat, hypnotic and repetitive.
One dirty, old record of mine is “Nobody likes you.” It’s a quite a classic. Unconditional to progress, elated states of being, success, achievement and periods of adoration, it goes on with its stubborn mantra.
Somewhere at the root of mental programming I have even seen how this idiotic mantra based on pure ego and duality, has been part of the fire behind the spiritual quest, the intellectual quest, the moral quest, and much of the activities of a life time. Without any relation to intelligence or spiritual development, it goes on with its banal message, even at times when being “liked” is utterly irrelevant. It can’t be theorized away. Its hold is almost generational.
It makes me wonder how many empires have been built, how many genocides conducted and how many wars fought and lost (and lost and lost), due to the repetition of similar unrealized root mantras of “normal” minds. One thing is now clear, having caught its tail, if I were to listen to its lunacy, I would be dancing a road to hell.
The tone of this voice is thin, bitter and slightly spiteful. It’s not my voice, and can be male or female. But it’s close to home, internalized at the root of mental form. Yet it’s subtle. It has the kind of undermining repetition that could have made me bow to the authority of the psychiatrists and take rocket bomb drugs when all I needed was rest, space and a little loving kindness. If it’s not realized by in the first place “hearing” it, its hold becomes even stronger, nestling deeply into the unconscious.
Other voices we hear in our heads can be the supposed replay of conversations. Yet in this rattle, do we listen to the subtle, creative way we alter the tone, and employ censorship in order to satisfy our own personal agenda of separation? These voices are the work of audio imagination, recomposing memory in subtle ways and with artful deletions in an attempt to regain inner peace through the a forcing of the feeling of being “OK”, right, or even marvellous.
These voices are also the kind of static in the mind that can be released through deeper attention or to listening more openly to the nature or atmosphere of the silence beyond them. If they are left to party, they will compose whole future scenarios as well as recomposing past ones. In all this, they are decomposing self-esteem, vitality, and living connection to the truth of sensory perception. They distract and manipulate. They close down the senses, and as such, are hardly audible in quality or tone. Yet when heard, they do have a distinct atmosphere of distraction, denial and delusion.
Often, we can experience a variety of voices. There is the one that is adult within our minds, that judges, condemns and issues orders of censorship on the one that is childish. Many self judgements and repressions of authentic feeling arise from an attempt to identify exclusively with the adult one, and to keep the shameful one under wraps. Many choose to believe in the inner disciplinarian, that demands the kind of perfection from living form which is never going to happen.
The Still Small Voice
Then, beneath all this cacophony, there is the Still Small Voice. But it won’t necessarily speak, especially not if we don’t believe in it enough to listen. We need to invite it with questions and be prepared to listen either to the answer, or to the quality of the silence.
The more we open our ears to this Still Small Voice, and begin to trust it, the more we open the inner communication line to the undercurrent of our own minds. In this dimension, time and space are not absolute, meaning it is possible from here, to receive a far deeper guidance about what is needed in terms of direction, (without it needing to make ‘rational’ sense).
Acting on this voice has saved my life more than once. Today, I try to speak from there as much as possible; simply because it articulates a deeper truth and wisdom; one that no structure of ego or individual “personhood” could ever oversee.
The key, as always, is in the receptivity, in the listening – listening not only to the words, but the tones. Listening not only for the meaning but for the harmony. Listening not only for the attitude but for the purity of unconditional care in the inner articulation. Let this be our compass.
There is (funnily enough) a stillness in the Still Small Voice. A stillness that oversees cause and effect through an interconnectedness of being in a way that our small minds could never anticipate. It is not for by chance that the animals in Thailand moved to higher ground hours before the people on the day of the Tsunami. They had access to information that people have long been programmed to ignore.
Modern psychiatry tends to swiftly categorize individuals according to parameters that are hardly understood by science, let alone by its representatives. In no time, they are coercing a range of medications to numb the mind – drugs that have a variety of long-term damaging effects and that at best only repress symptoms rather than treating causal layers of discomfort.
The very phenomena of thought, intuition, and the insanity of the hypnotic messages of judgement and condemnation given to us at birth are hardly understood, but perpetuated by many in the psychiatric profession. The judgement of the psychiatrist often resonates with the judgement of society towards mental “instability” and in turn affirms the lesser voices of mind – such as the one that reiterates again and the again that the individual has no worth, that there is separation, rejection and condemnation. In this, many beautiful minds are deprived of their greatest strength, the clarity that can emerge through the development of an open receptivity in which there is an ability to truly listen to the guidance of the Still Small Voice, through which individual and collective wisdom can emerge.
- We have internal guidance. Learn to listen.
- Hearing voices: living and thriving as voice hearers
- To see a professional or not
- The guru is within…
- You are your own teacher, guru, healer
Georgi Y. Johnson has an international practice in spiritual healing and inner growth with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of the book I AM HERE – Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, which is a study of three layers of perception: consciousness, awareness and perception through emptiness. You can read more from Georgi & Bart here.