the voice that became me

Setting up for my practice the other morning; unrolling the mat, drinking water, straightening the mat, brushing dirt from my feet and tuning into the texture of my breath when all of a sudden I heard it: the voice in my head. It caught me by surprise.

Now if you’ve never heard the voice in your head I may sound crazy, I had never been so acutely aware of it. The crazy thing seems now to be that we believe this voice to be us. I’d go so far as to say that actually recognizing the voice is one of the first steps towards being not so crazy.

The second of Patanjali’s yoga sutras states that yoga is the non-identification with the movements of the mind. i.e: the voice is not me.

Humans have learnt to harness nature. We mastered the incredible art of knowing it all. Even predicting the weather is something we’ve become pretty accurate at. The amount of data collected provides a picture of what is to come. The minute percentage of inaccuracy will only be corrected when we learn the laws of chaos. In other words: never. 

So it was a little moment of chaos that brought on my latest revelation. I now look for those moments in the pauses between breaths.

I see clearly that this voice has been honed, polished, even its tone is similar to what I think that I sound like, the vibration is ever so familiar. But its narrative is mundane and overwhelmingly negative. The voice is critical and if my behaviour deviates from what the voice intones there is a maladjustment, an awkwardness. “Do not go against the dictates of the voice”, it seems to say.

But what does the voice know? The voice knows only my experience thus far. In its attempt to mold the present moment to its habitual grooves it misses out on a vast source of inspiration. The voice is mostly deeply mistaken.

I heard the voice and the experience of freedom that followed was vast. To be free to be oneself, not to conform to the narrative of the voice, this is true presence. To respond to the moment in a way that has not been pre defined, this is happiness.

Another name for the voice might be the ego. Don’t allow the ego to follow you in your practice. The ego is in the foreground but let us not ignore the background. True wisdom arises when we listen to the present. When we are free from the tethers of the past, the fear of the future.

In the postures, relax the brain and feel your mind sit in your heart.