A room of one's own

A room of one's own

This week I’ve gotten really curious about how privacy or lack of it affects how much we can hear our inner voice and receive what wants to come through us.

It started from a conversation in the community I’m holding, as participants shared their own versions of feeling affected by dynamics in their home environment that drastically seemed to inhibit their ability to fully drop in and express.

But that’s not the first time, by any means, that I’ve thought about this topic.

In fact, it’s been prevalent throughout my life, and I can mark the seasons of vast spiritual momentum as seeming to also be at times when I had a more private living space.

There was a motel room in downtown Reno, in my mid-twenties.

I’d just gone through 3 years of various Christian ministry schools/university, and I returned home out of money and without much clarity on next steps. Moving back into my parents’ house had a pretty short shelf life. Not only did I feel stifled from my expressive methods of “prayer”, but they required me to attend their church and also meet with a leader in their congregation for “Bible study” in order to be allowed to live in their house.

You would think since I was a pretty staunch Christian at the time, that would be fine, but I had veered very far from their church’s teachings, which were repressive of expressive forms of spirituality.

So that season ended when I decided I’d rather live in my car than meet my parents’ requirements.

It was more freeing.

Fast forward past an unworkable roommate situation, and I rented a tiny motel room in downtown Reno.

I set up my piano keyboard, and I remember belting out so many worship songs, making up my own music as I went, and feeling pretty uninhibited, not caring what sounds made it through those walls.

Later, when I was in college, I was assigned a book by Virginia Woolf, written about 100 years ago, A Room of One’s Own. That title stuck with me, though I can’t say I fully remembered what the book was about. But as this topic has been coming up more recently, I was inspired to re-read that book, and this week I sat down and read it.

The book is all about women and writing, and she hypothesizes that it takes a regular livable income plus private space for women to write. As many women of her day and particularly in the century prior didn’t have their own money nor much privacy, even if they had genius, they’d be unable to fully express it.

She questions why women had started writing fiction, but not poetry — and her answer seems to be that it would require more privacy and potentially more permission to write poetry versus fiction.

That aspect of permission played in a lot, because while a woman of that day was writing, she was simultaneously asking, am I allowed to do this? Or she was simultaneously demanding, I should be able to do this! In other words, her writing was involved with either a request or a demand for space, but there was an awareness of the context that women writing is a question, not a fully accepted thing. So her writing wasn’t free to just be what it was; it was trying to be what it wanted to be while also requesting permission to be it.

Now fast forward a century, and the edges of expression have extended a lot. But they’re still there. And while I’m not here to talk about one gender or another being allowed to express, I am here to discuss humans feeling the permission, the freedom, the uninhibited space to bring through what’s available inside us, looking for a way to come out.

When I access my inner voice, I like to use a voice recorder, and speak out loud what I’m hearing.

I could write.

I’ve written to my inner voice many times, and when I started this journey that’s all I did. Writing can be done in more spaces, because there’s fewer sounds coming out — and those who may share the physical space that could hear your sounds won’t see your writing. So it’s possible to bring through ideas from your inner voice via writing that you don’t feel free to say out loud.

But voice recording opens more room for me. I’m able to tune in, going into whatever depths are needed to receive the wisdom on whatever topic is pertinent to me. And from that deep space, I just speak out loud whatever comes through or comes up for me, knowing that it’s all being recorded, so I can review it later. (Note: If you’re just trying it for yourself, voice recording can feel awkward at first, but it may also make a deeper space available for accessing wisdom once you get used to it.)

That means that my expression makes a lot of sound. Not only is there the sound of the inner voice words, which sound different from the more “acceptable” mind talk, but there’s also some pretty frequent crying. There’s intimate deep expression of my most authentic personal view. It’s the space where I bring every human pain.

And other humans often aren’t comfortable with hearing expressions of pain, nor the sounds we make as we receive mind-blowing epiphanies.

The other day, I was recording outside in the hammock, and the inner voice said something shocking to my mind, and I just exclaimed pretty loudly how profound that was! And then the follow on thought was, my neighbor is back from his trip. He might be outside or have the door open. He can probably hear my noises. He is likely to conclude that I’m at least a little bit crazy!

And even though my 10 year old daughter is pretty used to my inner voicing at this point, I’m noticing that as she’s maturing and becoming more independent, I feel less free to fully express in front of her. As we’re living in an RV space, I have little privacy when she’s home, which, during the summer, is pretty much all the time.

So I’m noticing that it takes private space and undistracted time to bring through you what’s wanting to come, especially when it involves expressions that may be emotional or deeply authentic and personal, or that may include content that would shock the ears of your husband or mother or neighbor.

You need a space that’s secret and hidden away to be able to start exploring the wealth of wisdom within you that sounds so foreign to minds with ears that may be listening.

When you know they’re hearing you and you know that emotional outbursts and unfiltered authenticity aren’t welcome in your home or neighborhood, the silence becomes stifling.

You can’t explore what’s looking to emerge through you that could bring freedom from people pleasing, when in your current state you’re feeling bound to remain in the realm of what those around you find acceptable, and you spend all your time with people who might find you crazy if you explore, out loud, that inner hidden path.

You’re not even prepared to answer their questions, and truly, where you’re going, it’s none of their business.

You need time, and not just bits of time you grab for yourself here and there from out of the demands of children and jobs and husbands, but regular undistracted time that is part of your routine. But to make that space and time takes more than cleaning out a closet, going for a drive, or installing a lock on your bedroom door.

There’s also going to be your own mind to deal with — your mind that may be convinced that the kids need you all the time, that you must stay busy, that setting aside an hour a day when you demand the world to go away isn’t your right, but that it’s shirking your true responsibility.

You’ll need to come to understand that what’s arising within, seeking your voice to bring it out, is vastly more important than housework or children’s demands or meeting the expectations of a partner.

But that inner voice is subtle. It doesn’t demand like the children or the spouse or the parents or society.

It just waits. It waits without demand, but with far more importance than the vast majority of the many things that advocate for your time.

In exploring this topic in my own inner voice session, I found (in a very meta way) that I didn’t have enough privacy of my own to fully bring this through. With my daughter in the RV, I went to record at the patio table, but the wind was kicking up, and Mormon missionaries were walking around the RV park. I got into my car, but it was too hot, and the windows all around made me feel on display. So I crept back into the RV, went into the bathroom, closed the door, put down the toilet seat, and sat on that seat to finish the session.

I didn’t go as deep as is needed to fully bring through what’s waiting around the edges of why it takes so much privacy, why a room of one’s own (with soundproof walls!) is needed in order to access the most potent wisdom that’s invited for humanity.

What did come, summary version, was this:

There is much that could be expressed that would not come in an environment that is open, where there is potential of hearers. It requires space, time, and privacy to fully bring this, and a welcoming of all that we would bring.

We are with continual desire to express and expand through, and this is necessarily limited to the capacity of the spaces to which we come. Hearing free words through this Eva may exceed vastly the capacity of this stranger hearing it in public.

What I’m feeling around the edges of is some understanding around why this is so. Is there a literal energetic space created from being in the same physical environment, and that space that’s a join-ment of both humans has less capacity for receiving inner wisdom due to the limitations of the other person or people in the dynamic?

It feels like there’s a lot here to explore.

I welcome hearing about your own experiences around this, if you feel inspired to share — just comment below.


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