Often, we are so busy listening to the chattering of our ego, we overlook the fact that our higher self is trying to offer us guidance.
The voice in our head offers us constant advice, warning us of danger or criticizing the things we do. This endless barrage of comment can be damaging to our well-being. It can lead to confusion, fear, and loss of self-esteem. It is so constant that we are not always aware that there is a different sort of guidance that we can tune into. This source is called by some the spirit or soul. Others refer to it as our higher self. In psychological terms, it can be referred to as the psyche.
In effect, this is a more rounded part of us, perhaps even a more human part of us. It is the element of our being that is more concerned with our higher welfare and our development. Rather than being focused on immediate threats and dangers, like the ego, our higher self is concerned with larger dimensions of our life.
How the ego is fuelled
Our current society fuels the ego to a great degree. With its obsession with materialism, success and the opinion of others, it plays on our fears of not being good enough. In a capitalist society, this is unsurprising. After all, you can’t sell improving products to someone who loves himself or herself just the way they are. Advertising and the media play on our fears of not having enough or not being enough in order to sell us ‘fixes’.
The benefits of tuning into the higher self
Tuning into soul guidance can help us to discover what it truly is we want from life. The higher self is not concerned with material gratification and the needs of the ego. It is less concerned with what we have, what others think of us and whether we are good enough. The soul’s guidance can lead us to a more fulfilling life allowing us to consider what truly makes us happy.
We can develop a relationship with this part of ourselves. It can be like having an inner guide or counselor we can turn to when life gets tough or we have an important decision to make. In time, we can find our interactions with this part of our psyche provide a most fulfilling part of our lives. It can help us tune into all that is good in our lives. It can open our minds to the wonder and awe of being alive on this planet. In short, it is a part of us well worth getting to know.
So how can we tune into our higher self?
There are numerous ways to get to know our soul so that we can receive its guidance. Human beings have been using these ways for millennia. Every kind of spiritual and psychological work, as well as all creative pursuits, are concerned with this part of being rather than the ego. You can tune into its guidance in many ways, but here are just a few ideas to consider.
1. Spending time in nature
Studies have shown that spending time in nature has enormous health benefits. But as far as tuning into the higher self is concerned nature can help us enormously. By spending time in nature we can forget the demands of society for a while and get closer to a more natural way of being. We can become absorbed by the sounds, smells, feel and sights of nature. We become so immersed in the dancing light beneath trees, the swish of waves, or the expansive view from hills or mountains on the beach that we forget about our everyday concerns. If we are in a quiet natural place, the ego can rest awhile. It can let go of the need to constantly worry about danger, or what others think of us, or what we should be doing to achieve success or wealth. In nature, we can just be.
This can lead to insights from the soul that would be drowned out if we were in a less relaxing environment. If you still find that you egoic mind is busy worrying while in nature consider a walking meditation or journaling in natural surroundings.
Journaling can also help us pass through the concerns of the egoic mind to find something deeper. A regular journaling practice can lead to less anxiety and more clarity. Initially, when we begin to write, we might find ourselves pouring out worries or concerns. However, once we acknowledge these concerns, our minds’ find room for deeper questions leading to new insights and answers. If you are not sure how to begin, consider using some journaling prompts to guide you into the practice.
Meditation is the time-honored way of quieting the egoic mind. The practice of meditation does not attempt to stop the many thoughts that come from the ego, it simply makes us aware that they are merely thoughts. This gives us a huge amount of perspective into our own minds. We can then choose whether to engage with them or not. Because thinking affects the way we feel, meditation can have a hugely beneficial effect, reducing fear and anxiety and helping us to be more relaxed and happy. There are many meditation resources online or you could consider an app such as Headspace or Calm. If you are not one for sitting still, there are many alternatives to traditional meditation.
4. Flow activities
Being immersed in a creative pursuit can help us achieve a feeling of ‘flow’. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses this in his book: Flow: The Psychology of Happiness. In a nutshell, though, the idea is that when we are totally absorbed and engaged by doing something we love, there is no room for unhelpful thoughts or worries about the egoic self. Pretty much anything can be a flow activity as long as it is something that absorbs you completely. For many, creative pursuits or hobbies create this feeling.
As well as being good for our general health, exercise can improve our mental health and sense of well-being. This is largely because exercise results in the release of endorphins or ‘feel good hormones’ that gives us a boost of positivity. This is the reason behind the common phenomena know as runners high. In the same way that flow activities absorb us, so can sport and exercise. Yoga can also create in us the stillness required to connect with the soul.
When the mind chatter gets overwhelming it can often help to talk to someone else about our concerns. We can choose to confide in a counselor, a good friend, a support group or an online group of like-minded people. Human beings are inherently social animals. We feel better when we are supported by a wider community and feel a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, society has attached something of a stigma to mental health problems. This can mean we don’t always seek the support we need. Luckily this is changing and there are many groups that can help us with a variety of issues from minor worries to major psychological issues. If you feel that your worries are problems are affecting your health and well-being to a serious degree than choosing to seek support and help can be a life-changing breakthrough.
7. Spiritual practices
For those of us who are spiritually inclined, there are many practices that can help us tune into our soul’s guidance. There are, in fact, far too many to mention them all here. So, I will just give you a few of my favorites. Firstly and perhaps most simply, prayer can help us tune out the ego and focus on a deeper way of being. Prayer is ultimately a conversation with the divine, a spark of which is in all of us. We can use prayer to ask for advice, give thanks and clarify our thinking. Another spiritual practice I find particularly helpful is shamanic journeying. This practice involves a spiritual journey accompanied by the rhythmic beating of a drum. I have found this practice to open my mind to many insights into how I can live better and be more loving and fulfilled. Again there are many resources available online but I particularly recommend the work of Sandra Ingerman
Spiritual practices are highly personal, so spend some time investigating those that might suit you. Unfortunately, some spiritual practices are driven by the ego. For this reason, it’s is worth avoiding those with hierarchies, charismatic leaders, and prescriptive rules. This way you can find your own way of connecting to the divine and listen to guidance from your higher self.
The Soul Searcher’s Handbook: A Modern Girl’s Guide to the New Age World by Emma Mildon offers some great ideas for spiritual practices to try.
8. Limiting ego fuelling activities
Lastly, I would recommend limiting activities that fuel the ego. In particular, I would avoid advertising that plays on our fears. I would also recommend being highly selective in the news sources you rely on. Many of these are barely news at all. In fact, they often play on our fears to manipulate us into certain behaviors. Using social media such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook has also been linked with anxiety and depression so I would limit their use and remember that they are no reflection of the reality of other people’s lives.
This is just a taste of the many ways we can switch from egoic thinking to something much deeper. I’d love to know the ways you tune into your souls’ guidance. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
For more ideas and in further information into all these techniques see my book Not Meditating: Finding Peace, Love, and Happiness Without Sitting Still