Voice Dialogue is the method for exploring selves, with the intent of supporting the emergence of the Aware Ego, while the Psychology of Selves and of the Aware Ego Process is the theoretical framework underpinning it. But for many the term ‘Voice Dialogue’ has come to refer to the totality of this work, and as an approach to consciousness exploration and growth, an approach that could be called ‘The Way of Voice Dialogue’.
I‘ve often been asked the question, ‘How many Voice Dialogue sessions will I need?’. People have contacted me about doing some Voice Dialogue because they wanted to resolve a particular issue, or they wished to reach some goal in consciousness, which, they believed, once they had attained, would have meant they had no need for further work. And so they were attempting to plan how much Voice Dialogue they would need in order to achieve their goal.
But the truth is that you can never have enough Voice Dialogue sessions – consciousness is an ongoing process – but also that you may not even need all that many! I realise this is a statement that appears to be contradictory, which is typical of many spiritual and consciousness paths, but bear with me.
Although Voice Dialogue is a powerful therapeutic and personal growth technique, and it is the quickest and most direct method I am aware of for experiencing growth in consciousness, it is only a technique. It is not an end in itself, nor a belief system, nor a pre-set path to a particular destination.
But it is also so much more than that. Because it so quickly leads to the transformation of consciousness and the consequent changes in your lived experience, it is a pretty awesome technique! The changes you experience when and after doing Voice Dialogue can be attributed to Voice Dialogue itself (and to the person you are doing it with), so it is easy to mistake the technique for the consciousness experience, which is really the Aware Ego Process in action.
Because the Aware Ego Process is the goal with doing Voice Dialogue, and because an Aware Ego Process is a process and not an end you can rest in, and also because it could be activated in some other way, it is not necessarily dependant on Voice Dialogue the technique.
So although I’ve called this post ‘The Way of Voice Dialogue’ what I am really referring to is ‘The Way of the Aware Ego’. But because Voice Dialogue is the term most people associate with this consciousness work, I’m using it as a kind of shorthand for this work.
What is involved in the Way of Voice Dialogue?
What this means to me is that as I live my life, I consider the people, things and events around me and affecting me as a reflection of myself, maybe a part I know well or maybe a part I haven’t yet met, or a part I would rather not meet.
I see the world as a mirror of myself but one which is in constant relationship with me. The boundary where I begin and the outside world ends is a boundary that is malleable, sometimes distinct, at other times blurry, and at yet at other times it is a boundary I am in charge of.
If I go about my day paying attention to what life brings to me, and to my responses to the things life brings, I become increasingly aware of where my comfort zones, judgments and blind spots lie.
If I look at everything and everyone as a teacher for me, as a reflection of my inner family, which I am in some sort of relationship with, and if I respond to the outside world with a sense of acknowledgement, curiosity and respect required of the situation, while at the same time being aware of how people and things are affecting me, then, to me, I am living ‘The Way of Voice Dialogue’. That is, I am in a process of becoming more conscious of the multi-faceted nature of myself.
My reactions and responses tell me where I’m at – or who I am in that moment, and the outside world tells me what is. I then continue to move on with my life with that information, sometimes not being able to do much with it except carry it with me while continuing to experience my reactions, but at other times enjoying those ‘aha’ moments when something shifts and I feel myself grow and become richer, and am able to act with greater choice and compassion.
With this approach I am not trying to be a particular type of person or to feel compassionate towards each person I encounter. If you feel you have to be compassionate and loving toward everyone, and you have to suppress other feelings, then you are identified with a self who holds those particular rules about compassion. Whereas the compassion that arises from accepting who you are, and eventually embracing the ‘other’ in yourself, emerges naturally and effortlessly.
I like how the ancient Indian texts describe us all as ‘one’ in reality but in our lives (a different kind of reality) we have become many individual selves who have lost touch with our fundamental connectedness. The ‘I’ we all share at our centre is described as part of a greater ‘I’, which becomes, soon after birth, even before, bound to the selves which form and arrive with us, enabling us to experience and interact with the world we find ourselves born into.
So our ‘I’ becomes identified with a self or group of selves and we lose our connection to other selves, to our essence and to the greater whole. And so we all have our individual experiences and perceptions which are limited to the personality we have constructed and identified with. But if we could unhook from being bound to our personality, then we would realise that not only were we bound to only a part of our personality (our primary selves as opposed to the selves we have disowned), but we were in fact, or in a deeper sense of reality, part of the greater ‘I’.
The Voice Dialogue process is about becoming aware that we have identified with one or a few selves and that in fact we are made of up many selves, and then separating from our identifications so we can embrace the whole. It honours relationship as a teacher, in fact the method requires relationship – between the subject and the facilitator.
So the way of Voice Dialogue for me is about relationship – with our selves, with our partner, with our children (who not only mirror us and teach us but also give us unconditional love and are among the most forgiving people we will encounter), our relationship with our parents, friends, colleagues and neighbours, our relationship with the natural world around us, our relationship with the spiritual world, and our relationship with the unconscious, the all-pervading, all-knowing intelligence which, if we are willing to listen to, will guide us in our process.
If we pay attention to our reactions to the people who come into our lives and we also pay attention to who in those people might be dominant and defining their personality, in much the same way as we meet the selves in a Voice Dialogue session, we can learn much and support our Aware Ego Process.
This ‘Way’ requires that we relate with each person we encounter with the attitude of engagement and interest we would use in a Voice Dialogue session, and when we realise that we are stuck in judgment (or awe) about someone, or we can’t help but become enmeshed with someone, or we are afraid of someone, or any other response where we lose the ability to relate with some choice and so become destabilised, we accept that too, and use it as a teaching.
And then we can go and have a formal session, or countless sessions if that is what it takes, and if we feel that is right for us at the time.
That is the ‘Way of Voice Dialogue’ for me.