By Susan Stone
There is a lovely Scripture that reads; “Be Still and Know that I am God.” It is my mother’s favorite quote from the Bible. For it is in the “stillness” that we hear a voice different from our own.
Recently a young man came to see me from Tennessee to go on his Vision Quest. Traditionally, a vision quest takes place in a natural setting. The Elders place the participant in an isolated area, surrounded by a twelve foot circle of salt (for protection). They may take a blanket and water with them, but no comforts of any kind. No pillow, no tobacco, no phone, no journal, no nothing. For three days there is only you and your surroundings. The participant does not know where the Elders are, only that they are safe and will be guarded during the quest.
Then the battle begins…the battle with EGO. It usually begins with; WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? THIS IS TOO HARD! I’M HUNGRY, I’M ITCHY, I NEED TO TALK! Did I mention you must also take a vow of silence? The whole point of going on a quest such as this, is to separate the voice that taunts you from the voice that guides you. If we cannot free ourselves from the tyranny of our egos, we are doomed to be bullied by it for the rest of our lives.
As long as I have been doing this work and teaching others to love the stillness, I still hear the voice that says; WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? YOU AREN’T SMART ENOUGH TO DO THAT. YOU SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THAT JOB. WHY CAN’T YOU BE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE? The difference is that today I recognize that voice as ego and I tell it to go away. It does not tell me the Truth. It replays old tapes that I heard from others or told myself. It is the voice that used to rule my world. Not anymore. This getting control of your ego is tricky business, because both voices sound just like you!
The voice that guides me is smarter than me. It always comforts me. It never chides or insults me. That beautiful still voice very often tells me things I don’t want to hear. Like; forgive that person for she is hurting and needs your love. Or, when I think I can’t afford to be generous, I will hear; you can’t afford not to be. The voice of ego loves to make excuses. It will give you every reason in the world for not following through with that which is for your highest good.
Vision Quests, although they should never be attempted alone and unsupervised…a mini-quest is perfectly safe. If you are dealing with a persistent ego, you may give this a try. Set aside one hour to be still and silent. I recommend going into a windowless room, turn off all lights, lay or sit in one place for just one hour… in the darkness…alone…in complete silence. You will be amazed at how quickly your ego will start screaming at you! It will do everything in its power to convince you that you are crazy for even trying this. The tantrum it will have will be almost deafening. Don’t worry, it will calm down. And when it does…a bliss you have rarely known in your life will come over you like a soft wave. You will hear a different voice congratulating your courage, a soft voice that will bring you comfort and peace.