I’ve just experienced an incredible week of quiet in my head. I want to describe it so it can be documented in case it NEVER happens again. I think I arrived at the quiet simply because I got so tired of listening to the argument between two versions of myself, that one or both sides had to surrender and did. At first the quiet felt a little uncomfortable, like white noise or ear ringing. As I sat to wait for a red light to change I noticed the quiet. I listened. I waited… Nothing.
My head is normally a very noisy place. I have lots of thoughts about lots of things going at any given moment in time. I have been working really hard on how to manage these thoughts, primarily through Jody Moore’s Be Bold membership. And recently I started reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Tolle talks about the ego. I remember the ego from psych 101 class, but Tolle describes it our perception of self, which for me is the chatter in my head. It’s my thoughts. And his advice is to not take it too seriously:
“When you detect egoic behavior in yourself, smile. At times you may even laugh. How could humanity have been taken in by this for so long? Above all, know that the ego isn’t personal. It isn’t who you are. If you consider the ego to be your personal problem, that’s just more ego.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Jody Moore often uses the phrase, “I see you, brain!” which I think captures the lightness that Tolle is trying to encourage. But ultimately what this comes down to is internalizing that I AM NOT MY THOUGHTS.
So, if I’m not my thoughts, then what am I? If the voice that I’m hearing all day long in my head is not me then what is? Tolle’s answer is, at least initially, that I am the awareness behind those thoughts. “You can only feel it when you get out of your head. Being must be felt. It can’t be thought.” This is fascinating to me!
In the scriptures it is described as “be still and know.” The stillness is what I have been experiencing. It’s the space between the thoughts. It’s the awareness that I am more than the thoughts. When I am still–that is when I can access the magic. That is when God speaks to me, not with words but with knowing. When I am still I can find my truest self and highest self. And I think I am discovering that this is where I really feel my agency. This is how I fill the measure of my creation. I love that phrase. It’s not about a list of accomplishments or doing things perfectly, it’s about becoming the most authentic and highest version of myself.
Patricia Holland gave a devotional at BYU about this. I loved her conclusion:
“To be all that you can be, your only assignment is (1) to cherish your course and savor your own distinctiveness, (2) to shut out conflicting voices and listen to the voice within, which is God telling you who you are and what you will be, and (3) to free yourself from the love of profession, position, or the approval of men by remembering that what God really wants us to be is someone’s sister, someone’s brother, and someone’s friend.” Patricia Holland, Filling the Measure of Your Creation, 1989
So, for now, I’m going to enjoy the quiet.