The Still Small Voice

First published on Mrs. G's amazing blog Derfwad Manor on September 29, 2012.

Still Listening by Barb Cooper

I’m closing in on the two year anniversary of the beginning of my journey back to health. Two years…and just a lifetime of change. What I have now is a universe of gratitude, and a heartfelt wish that I could give everyone this feeling.
These days, I run into friends who haven’t seen me in a while and they can’t get over the difference in my appearance. Two years ago, I weighed thirty pounds more than I do now, and I hadn’t been off of my couch for any significant time in about three years due to a bout with chronic foot pain that I will tell you all about at great length if you’re ever interested. I was practically lobotomized on pain meds and anti-depressants, I was bloated and drinking too much, and so fully disconnected from myself and those around me that I can completely relate to the resurgence in Zombie propaganda. (I feel vaguely responsible.)
“Wow,” say my acquaintances. “So, how did you DO it?”
Well… one day, I got up off of the couch and I took a beginner yoga class.
“So, that’s the answer? Yoga?”
“Well…in a way. Sort of.”
I wish I could tell you what made me get off of the couch. I think if I could isolate it and share the impulse that got me moving, we’d all find our way off of our metaphoric and literal couches. What I DO know is that there is a still, small voice inside each of us. It whispers guidance to us. When we don't listen to it, it gets quieter. When we DO listen to it, our lives get better. I think that’s what happened--I listened to that little voice and I went to yoga.
And then, because I listened, it got louder.
So, I went to acupuncture.
And it got louder. (Plus, my pain started to abate for hours at a time, so I could REALLY hear it. Pain is really loud.)
So, I went off of my anti-depressants and gave up drinking alcohol and became a vegetarian and eventually vegan and lost the pain weight and lost ALL OF MY PAIN.
“So, yoga, then? I’ve been meaning to try yoga. I can’t believe you lost 30 pounds! I can’t believe you lost it doing YOGA!”
I scratch my head. “Well, yoga was a big part of it. But really, I think the answer is that still, small voice. Because it’s yoga for ME, but maybe it’s something else for YOU.”
At this point, my friends inexplicably need to leave. Right then.
Because, in reality? Most people are looking for a magic bullet—some quick and structured method to lose weight and get into shape and they don’t want to hear about listening to some weird, hippy-freak, still, small voice. They think I’m holding out on the truth.
That’s what’s so weird, though. That still, small voice IS the truth. It’s the ULTIMATE truth. And finding your way back to an authentic and true alignment in the world, which has the side benefit of embodying your physical person in your most healthful and glorious way, REQUIRES YOU ONLY TO LISTEN to it.
I think I've had this still, small voice inside of me for most of my life, only I never really recognized it before. I've listened to it, or not listened to it, but it's always been there. It's my belief that the voice inside of us is divine in origin, and the truer we are to our authentic selves, the clearer it is.
This voice is not to be confused with the negative voice you hear--the voice that tells you all the things you CAN'T do, all the things you're bad at, why you'll never succeed. THAT voice—the self-doubting, hating voice? Goes away when I am hearing the Divine Voice. The Divine Voice is quiet and absolutely non-judgmental. When I eat crackers for lunch against its wishes, it just waits patiently for me. There is NO JUDGMENT. There is no NEGATIVITY. There is only kindness and patience. I think maybe that's why it's so easy to ignore that voice, you know? Because there is no immediate negative reinforcement for doing so.
I was the poster child for that endless negative self-talk before this radical transformation I've undergone over the past two years. For most people I know, this is the hardest battle and the biggest barrier to living the life they really want. What’s truly amazing is that I don’t have that voice anymore. (Well, it still rears its head every now and then, but I can shut it down now.) 
When I began my journey to a different way of living in this world, one of the things I did was address my deeply-rooted shame issues. I read those books by Brene' Brown and I started practicing some self-compassion. If you really want to hear that Divine Voice within you, you have to stop drowning it out by your impossible and unloving expectations of yourself.
I know how hard it is. Believe me, I know. I also know that no one ever changed the world, reached her potential, or found her authentic self by beating herself up until she did it. Positive loving change comes from a place of compassion and abundance.
Every time I listen and respond, I can hear that voice clearer. I feel like I have been stripping away the layers and filters and protective devices that don't really protect...trying to find my authentic self under all that somewhere. And here I am today, profoundly changed for the better, and still listening.
Still listening.
All of this goodness because one day I heard that little voice, like Horton heard the Who, and I listened.
I wonder what the world would look like if we all slowed down and tried to just listen to that voice within us? I'm trying to work toward an unbroken awareness of that voice--although I'm pretty sure that's impossible, except in enlightened beings. Imagine what that would look like, though, --a completely peaceful, harmonious existence. It boggles me. It inspires me. It motivates me.
What is your still, small voice trying to tell you today? Can you hear it? Are you listening?

Barb Cooper is 47, the mother of two girls, a Texas-to-New York transplant, and a writer by nature and training. She struggles to live in her head, in her body, and in this world, all at the same time. It's not as easy as you'd think. Find her blog at