06/04/2010 07:56 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Listening to the 'Still Small Voice'

The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within.
-Mahatma Gandhi

My article last weekend: Turning Loneliness Into Deeper Connection produced a considerable response. I was touched by the many heartfelt emails I received, including a request to share from them. Below, are a few extracts.

From this reader, the idea of forming a national movement of Friendship Clubs:

...The Pastor was a warm and caring man who lived simply and happily with his own family and his church 'Flock.' In one of the first sermons we heard him give he said 'The biggest problem in today's world is Aloneness.' That statement made us all think and I believe he was and is right!! We all run faster and faster every day on life's treadmill to keep up and go home to our isolated boxes called homes for rest and respite. We are connected but mainly electronically these days and the dangers there are immense for us and generations to come. Maybe we need a new national movement where people can come together in small groups to simply connect with each other, talk and find friendships."

This reader, recently bereaved from the death of two close family members, writes:

Wanting to move forward into the next stage of my life, but without the energy and physical strength at present to do many of the things that would bring me joy and fulfillment at another time. The simple comfort of a smile from the clerk at the grocery store, or a nod from another customer waiting in line are things that help to keep me optimistic. We can never take for granted how our simple acknowledgment of others with presence can impact their day.

For many, the friendship of a beloved pet brings great comfort, as with this reader:

The one relationship I can always count on is the one with my dog. Without Gizmo, I would be lonely a lot of the time. However, his buoyant personality and eagerness to see me is a constant source of cheer. As I type this, he is lying across my feet! When he passes on, as he eventually will, I plan to have another pet!

The search for real connection, whether that is within ourselves in solitude, or with others in their presence, is a way forward out of the dilemmas that so many of us are facing. There is a underlying unity that brings us together to resolve issues, and to find joy and laughter, even in the most unexpected times and places. That unity is the loving power we each hold. It is fulfilled as we seek to be of service to one another, and to ourselves in our need.

In response to another recent article, Overcoming Powerlessness, one reader wrote:

... what I notice about my friends and family and in myself is a sense of powerlessness bordering on numbness due to the constant fallout we are watching in the US. While I do meditate and pray for the well-being of the country, my family and friends, I just don't feel like its enough to focus on the moment, meditate, be grateful. Something has got to change and none of us know how to change what we see as very large corrupt powers running our country in the ground.

She continues: 

I am writing to ask if you have any practical advice about how to contend with powerless in an active way beyond your own personal needs in order to address and instigate larger scale change that is eating away at our environment, our morale, and our economic well-being? I am fed up watching myself and my colleagues stare out into all this systemic failure and betrayal. Don't you think something bigger has to be done here? Where do we start?

I did not have an easy answer for this reader. What I believe is that we must listen inwardly to the wisdom and guidance that is available to us. I responded that I am not an activist, but I do love to write. My intention for the articles I wrote for HuffPo is to inspire fresh hope and confidence in readers, to lift morale where I can. That is my contribution.

To each one who is called, there will be a unique contribution you can make towards effecting positive change in our world. Where do we start? I suggest to listen within to your own truth, the still small voice which has loving as its essence.

You must train your intuition
-- you must trust the small voice inside you
which tells you exactly what to say, what to decide.

-Ingrid Bergman

How to listen to your still small voice:

  1. Deal with distractions. That is to say, complete the things you have undertaken to do. Let go of what you no longer need. Clear the clutter around you. Create as peaceful a place around you that you can, so that you can witness what is moving within you.
  2. Prepare to receive. What is the guidance you are seeking? Be as specific as you can. Write it down. Free form writing is a great way to clear the mind. Mind mapping is a valuable technique for exploring options and possibilities. Contact me if you would like more information on either of those techniques.
  3. Breathe deeply and relax. Bring yourself into the present moment. When anxiety about the future comes to mind, say "NOW" to yourself. If a self-doubt or depression creeps in, forgive yourself. Say to yourself: "I forgive myself for..." as many times as it takes to get free of the judgments you may be holding against yourself.
  4. Listen. As you go about your day, be aware of simple nudges to pay attention. Allow yourself to go with what you hear inwardly. The guidance you receive will be loving. It may challenge you to do or see things differently than before. Be willing to act on what you receive. Gradually build your sense of trust.

Sweet is the breath of vernal shower.
The bee's collected treasures sweet.
Sweet music's melting full, but sweet yet.
The still small voice of gratitude.

-Thomas Gray

Have you ever found that your intuition has guided you through difficult times? How do you recognize the still small voice within you? Do you feel called to somehow make a difference in the world at this time? I would love to hear from you.

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