A journey inward, to find the ‘soul-voice’, the inner-guide to our happiness and abundance
“The funny part is that it’s all so simple.
What we are meant to do is who we are. Nothing more. Our soul-work is merely an extension of our own essence. It just takes such an effort for so many of us to get that naked. To simply let what we do be who we are.” [Meggan Watterson, REVEAL: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked (New York: Hay House, 2013), 133]
It might sound odd, or too simplistic, but the most powerful thing you can do for yourself and the course of your life is to listen inward. I don’t think there’s one magical way to do that, a meditation technique you have to master or a spiritual leader you need to follow. I think what we have lost touch with is the intrinsic trust in our own capacity to know what to do next. And the only way to strengthen that trust is to begin to cultivate our capacity to hear and then act on the guidance we receive from within.
Why is this so crucial? We are often presented with so many opportunities, sometimes even overwhelmed by them. And it can be difficult to discern our own truth in the midst of considering what our family, friends, and peers might want us to do or think is best for us. It has been a messy, humbling path for me to realize that ultimately, I’m the only one who can know what’s true for me. And that my sole responsibility to others is not to please them, but to do the arduous work of going within and figuring out what I really need to do.
It’s up to me to know what lights me up, because only then can I truly inspire others and share the depths of who I really am.
Writer and activist Anne Lamott wisely points out that, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining.” [Anne Lamott, Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York and San Francisco: Pantheon, 1994), 236] It’s such a paradox, and it can feel counterintuitive to take time to focus inward and disengage with what happens to be going on around us. But I have found personally that the most expedient way to find work in the world that really feeds us in more ways than just a paycheck is to cultivate our relationship with our own soul. It’s a more feminine way of moving in the world; it’s practicing the art of coming home to the true self, the soul, again and again, and then making our life about that union.
Fear can often drive us to run around desperate, reaching out to people and to opportunities from a place of actually not trusting that we’re going to find our way. We can lean too heavily on our love relationships – stressing out partners and lovers with the weight of the questions we, in the end, need to find the answers to for ourselves. We too often forget that the most important relationship we have in this lifetime is the one we can only create from within, which I explore deeply in my latest book How to Love Yourself (and Sometimes Other People).
Because when we begin to get intimate with the soul, we remember that what’s ours to share can never be lost. We remember our own worth. And we remember the intrinsic value of our presence in the world. We remember that there is no limit to what can unfold when we trust that at some divinely aligned time, and in a way perhaps we didn’t originally imagine, our soul will radiate its light.
In Divinity School, I studied the prayer of heart practiced by Christian monastics known as Hesychasts. The intention is to allow our consciousness to be centered in the heart. I began to practice this prayer daily in a meditation I eventually called the soul-voice meditation. I noticed a presence that would surface to meet me there – within the heart – a presence I recognized as my soul. At the time, I had no idea how I would be of greatest service – as a theologian, a writer, and a spiritual teacher. I didn’t know the exact steps I needed to take to share the ocean of love I sensed inside me.
I knew one thing though, and it has proven to be the most significant. I didn’t want fear to guide me. I wanted to move the way love wanted me to move. I knew that whatever unfolded for me then would be the highest possible version of my life – however that might look. Success for me has never been about a certain amount of wealth or material security. Success for me is the incalculable worth that floods me when all that I am is being utilized, when what exists within me is being shared.
Following the soul-voice can feel to the ego like you’re moving forward blindfolded.
The ego wants to know specifics, timelines, dates, guarantees. And the ego is needed, is very necessary. It’s just that by going within and becoming fluent in the various languages the soul uses to speak to you, the soul can remain sovereign to the ego. The soul can guide you to take the modest looking chalice that the ego might think is too boring or plain. Only the soul knows how to expand what we thought was possible for our lives. Only the soul knows to choose the direction that will lead us to the work we have come here to do.
To listen and act on the soul-voice rather than the voice of fear is the most powerful demonstration of self-love. To trust the guidance that you can only find from within is deeply healing not just for your own life but also for those around you. The place the soul leads you to is where you can share the essence of who you are and in the process meet the world’s deepest needs.