When is a voice not a voice or why does the voice inside my head not resemble the voice in the movie, Field of Dreams? Beyond the obvious answer of “it’s only a movie,” there is also the reality of building a baseball field, which I could never do. That’s the kind of voice I hear.
Perhaps chatter is a better term but regardless of word choice, the voice is not reality, incessant as it is. The voice is so pervasive that it filters the reality of living for us, if we allow it. Why is that?
Michael Singer says that “…reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind… As long as that’s what you want, you’ll be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it…. In the name of attempting to hold the world together, you really are just trying to hold yourself together”(The Untethered Soul).
I admit I have relied on this voice for almost all my life. As a writer, I’ve considered voice essential for I do hear the word as I type or I did. Now that I use voice recognition software, I am not aware of hearing words before I speak them. Inadvertently, voice recognition software has helped me be more present in life.
In short, I am no longer interested in listening to the voice in my head “… [take] both sides of the conversation, [not caring]… which side it takes, just as long as it gets to keep on talking” (Singer).
As I understand space-time, past, present, and future are all occurring simultaneously. All we ever have is the moment, which is completely free for it is attached to neither past nor future but is simply occurring.
The present is not a comfortable setting for the voice, as it is attached to past and future outcomes. The voice builds on situations that exist in either the past or the future. Situation is the foundation for the voice; it is the known. When we listen to the voice, our focus (and thus our perspective) narrows so rather than exploring the infinite field of possibilities, we explore only what we have known for that is all the voice knows.
Vividly, the voice narrates image after image stored within our memory archives. When it reaches the end of that file, it creates one future scenario after another. The voice is like a pendulum, swinging toward what has been and then all the way to the edge of what might be, with nary a pause at what is.
When we are still, we are in the moment, where the voice does not reside. “There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind–you are the one who hears it. If you don’t understand this, you will try to figure out which of the many things the voice says is really you.” And we are none of those things for consciousness—being aware that we are aware—is observing the voice we hear without engaging it. In being aware, our focus broadens.
We experience life as it is and only for what it is. “If you’re willing to be objective and watch all your thoughts, you will see that the vast majority of them have no relevance” (Singer). Rather than defining ourselves as past or future events—what has happened or what may happen–we immerse ourselves in the infinite field of possibilities that is the moment, free from past or future outcomes.
When we are in the moment, we are completely involved in all that is. There is nothing for the voice to attach to. We do not focus on the outcome of that moment, which is not to say that we are passive, not at all. It is to say that we do not react; we do not reach for what we have always known.
Rather, we “…decide not to narrate and, instead, just consciously observe the world, [feeling] more open and exposed” (Singer). Consciously observing the world is experiencing all that life is. It means that our every action is one that encompasses compassion, gratitude, love, and joy—maybe even simultaneously– for these are the emotions that are never felt in the presence of the voice, the ego of the known.
These four emotions reverberate throughout our physiology as it connects to our consciousness. In the moment, we are all that we are completely. This possibility always exists if we forgo the pendulum swing of the voice of the known. Yet, it is not as if the voice will be still but we are not the voice. We are the oneness that observes the voice, for we have more to observe than we have ever known.
I consider it quite a challenge not to engage the voice but the unknown has always intrigued me. As a writer, the role of the witness is certainly not new to me but once again, my switch to voice recognition software provided yet another unanticipated benefit.
Obviously, using the software is a physical change in how I write but while adjusting to speaking my writing as opposed to typing my writing, I became aware of another voice. In speaking my words, there is an immediacy that does not exist with my typing. At times, the words are a pure surprise. Sometimes that is the software doing its best to communicate what it thinks I said while other times, I do surprise myself in the words I say.
Regardless, the thought is rough, meaning there is no longer any thinking through a sentence before I speak it. I wasn’t aware that I had been a writer who edited as I created but my voice recognition software revealed otherwise. Now, I am no longer aware of that voice even when I do edit finished drafts.
And there is this about writing: no matter how or what I write, it is story. In story, there is always a voice–as there should be–just as there is a conclusion–the outcome of the story–as there should be. In story, voice frees us from clinging to outcome, releasing us into the moment, perhaps into a field of dreams.
(All Michael Singer quotes excerpted from The Untethered Soul, Kindle Edition, 2007: New Harbinger Publications)
14 thoughts on “A Matter of Voice”
Hi – thanks for such a thoughtful post! To me, the act of wanting to speak forces us to frame thoughts very differently from the way we might conceptualise them. That leads our thoughts and our words in new directions.
It may sound odd, given that I have devoted my life to writing; but a lot of what I undersand and (eventually) write about cannot be written in a conscious sense; it is to do with shapes, structures and patterns. What I actually write (and this even after 30 years in the business) is often simply a pale shadow of the concept in my mind. I have tried dictating – which produces a different expression, but words, still, fail to paint the concept. I can, usually – these days – produce words and phrases that, to me, come close to the concept. But I often find that others do not report back to me the clarify of idea that I can see in the same words. I understand why ; the problem is overcoming it – and that may be impossible because of the way words shape the conscious response differently, between individuals. The old problem of relative viewpoints.
One of those things which I put down to being part of the wider human condition.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think it sounds odd at all for it does seem the longer one writes, or paints or creates in any way, the more multifaceted the concept becomes. And then there are the “relative viewpoints”–the diversity of the universe in any dimension, I suspect–that provide us yet another perspective on our creative expressions that I, too, regard as “pale shadows” of the concept. Perhaps, it is what keeps us creating….
I so enjoy your comments, Matthew; they are such a light.
There is a verse in Buddhism that states that mind transcends all concepts about what it might be. Yet in that, the essence of meditation is to learn to tame the mind, then train it. Adding to that is the immediacy of speech. I liked your use of those words, because I have noticed with myself that often times when I put my thoughts into out loud words, I say, “How ridiculous!” May your journey be liberating!
It is intriguing when we attempt to see our thoughts in words. It simply is not the same but only another perspective on experiencing existence. As you say, it transcends all we might express. Thanks, Rob, a most considered comment.
Lovely to see your mountain images Karen – I remember you saying ages ago that your spiritual heart was there! The voice recognition software and the effects on your writing are fascinating. It is a bit similar to writing by hand and directly on to the computer which was a change for me. Also makes me think of the role of translation. All these things are more or less direct so the voice changes all the time – what is most real?.
Ah, translation; had not considered it, specifically. I am intrigued. You remembered about my mountains, how thoughtful, and thank you. The authenticity of voice is one I continue to explore as do you, I suspect.
I feel so heartened by this post, Karen. The four emotions you mentioned: compassion, joy, love and gratitude are states I find myself in more and more often as I grow older. I still suffer from that small but grating voice that points out all that is wrong or could go wrong, but the irresistible flow of the universe, which is always in the now, seems to be with me often enough that it is a place I recognize and feel comfortable inhabiting.
“The irresistible flow of the universe” really does provide, as you say. The voice never had a chance, as I see it, and I take heart in that.
Another good one, Karen. It’s so ironic that this is your subject matter today as I spent this weekend trying to control my inner voice. While waiting on test results for my dog, Chip, who had surgery this Friday, I found my “what if” voice was literally a run away train. Thank goodness for meditation practice because I was able to find nano seconds of pause by engaging my breathing rather than my “voice.” It can be so powerful at times but when you find that second of awareness and being present, there is in my opinion, no better example of peace.
The voice recognition software is so interesting to me. It must be amazing to experience your writing style changing via implementing it. I’ve often wondered how different my writing would be if I could simply speak because I find I am so much more fluid when I don’t think so much. Again the voice.
Thanks for starting off my week with some more great food for thought. Best to you.
“Nano seconds of pause” is such a powerful way to describe what happens “in the gap” as Deepak Chopra calls it. I could not agree more about the feeling of peace when one is completely present. Thank you so much for describing the feeling. For you and Chip, I hope for the highest good.
I remain amazed at the changes in my writing using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. It really does help with the voice in myriad ways.
Always look forward to your thoughtful comments. Have a great week.
P.S. LOVE the photos!
These were taken in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, a lifelong favorite place.
I was so happy to read your thoughtful words, Karen. I’m glad your new software has helped your awareness of “The Voice.” (I’m always happy to read your blog!) I hope you don’t mind if I put in my 2 cents?
You wrote, “Michael Singer says that ‘…reality is just too real for most of us, so we temper it with the mind… As long as that’s what you want, you’ll be forced to constantly use your mind to buffer yourself from life, instead of living it…. In the name of attempting to hold the world together, you really are just trying to hold yourself together’(The Untethered Soul).”
That’s one explanation. I haven’t read The Untethered Soul, but I wonder if Singer goes into why this “imaginary voice” is so often negative? Why don’t we invite ourselves to don rose-colored glasses and view the world as a more beautiful place?
“The Voice” can ruminate, playing conversations over and over in our heads, chiding us for what we should have said, scolding us for what we did say.
Sometimes “It” encourages jealousy. “I deserved Grandma’s pearls; I did so much more for her than that lazy, theivin’ Cousin Emily!”
Sometimes “It” tells us we are not good enough. “There’s no way I should apply for that job; they’d never hire someone with my lack of experience.”
“It” can urge us to justify our actions or lack of action (through fear). “I’ll eat that gooey cake because I had a really hard day and I deserved it.” Or “I didn’t speak up and say what I really believe because I’m non-confrontational—it wasn’t the right venue–I didn’t want to cause a fuss—Maybe I’m wrong.”
“It” knows our particular vulnerabilities, silently assuring us people of a different ethnicity, culture, faith, body art, age or whom they choose to love, don’t quite measure up to “our” standards. We are so, so right; they are so, so wrong! This can be LOUD enough for us to speak out against someone openly, or so subtle we barely perceive it, but studies show all of us are subjected to “Its” snakey voice, urging judgment.
I agree that by listening to this Voice, audible or not, (It uses feelings too), we are not living our own lives. Becoming conscious is the way to authenticity and living a really happy life.
Love and Light,
Michael Singer writes quite thoughtfully on “the voice” and its pervasiveness. I think you would enjoy the book. As you so accurately point out, there is no subject the voice will not tackle. Always appreciate your thoughts, Deb.