Several years ago, I participated in a group exercise at a job orientation that became a guiding metaphor about how to remain connected to my inner voice amid the noise of modern life.
The goal of the exercise was to walk from one end of a large room to the other, blindfolded, while navigating an obstacle course of napkin “landmines” that had been scattered across the floor. In order to make my way, I would have to hone in on the voice of a single colleague, who stood on the opposite side of the room guiding me step by step, while others, through cacophonous din, tried to drown out my guide by shouting a mix of good and bad directions. As I recall, it was a fun but difficult exercise, and I barely made it across.
Sometimes life can feel that way – like we are clambering through the darkness, unsure of which steps to take while distractions thunder around us. As for distractions, modern life offers plenty of them. From email, texts, advertising, social media, television and streaming videos, to family, colleagues, and friends, we are constantly being inundated with competing and often conflicting messages about how to lead fulfilling lives that will make us feel valued, loved, accepted, maybe even admired.
Ultimately, the questions become – how do we tap into the guiding voice that will lead us to our desired destination, steering us away from temptations and traps? And how do we embrace the journey with curiosity about, and compassion for our inevitable missteps?
Ask one who meditates, and they will swear by mindfulness – using breathing practices to observe our thoughts with emotional distance and objectivity. An artist, alternatively, will espouse the virtues of art, music, writing, dance, acting – as a mirror for reflecting our heart’s yearnings. A member of the clergy will likely direct you to practices and precepts aimed at connecting you toa higher power and universal truths, while a more classically trained psychoanalyst will invite you to probe unexpressed childhood feelings towards caregivers to free you from entrenched psychological complexes.
And they’d all be right, more or less.
That’s why if you ask a spiritually-oriented psychotherapist, you may find someone who embraces it all – mindfulness, creativity, religion, psychological inquiry, and more, as avenues to help people hear and follow that hushed inner authentic voice that whispers their truths – what some call the soul.