There are constant distractions in our daily lives that pull our attention here and there, some invite us to engage, others invite us to escape, while still others invite us to react. This is the reason that throughout history many on the spiritual path isolated themselves in monasteries or became hermits far away from other people: the worldly life is extremely loud. It is so loud, in fact, it takes conscious effort to hear the still, small voice within. This inner voice is the primary way we can hear the Divine, which can also be referred to as the Muse, intuition, Source, etc. It is our connection to ALL THAT IS, and when we cannot hear it, we can easily become lost, confused and overwhelmed.
We cannot all run away to monasteries and caves high in the mountains.
How then can we get quiet enough to really listen to the inner guidance that is always there? At first glance, it seems as though the answer is to simply get quiet, or better yet, get quiet and meditate. However, what do you think happens when we do that? All the voices, chatter and noise that was out in the world follows us into that quiet space. These voices, are also always with us, and they cleverly compete for our attention, hooking onto potent emotions to up the ante so that we believe that the thought is important. These voices are often even louder than the ones that we encounter in the external world. They also do their best to drown out the one pure voice of sanity that resides within.
Getting quiet isn't enough.
We must add the essential ingredients of awareness and discernment to the process. This is where the real gold can be found. Once you shine the light of awareness on the chaos of the ticker tape of thoughts (most of which did not originate with you), you can begin to see patterns: that they're focused on either the past or future, that they are almost always projections, speculations, stories or half-truths about what's going on, that they have nothing to do with what's going on in the moment, that they use attention-hooks such as "What if....", along with harsh, sometimes shameful and blameful language, etc.
The still, small voice of the Divine or of intuition is NOTHING like this. It is loving, kind, patient and wise (and, at times, direct and firm). There is NO chaos. It is present-focused and calm, and it only has your BEST interest at heart. It's intention is life-affirming, not all the nonsense that the world around you tells you is best. It is there to guide you on the path of your Soul's evolution.
It takes courage and practice to see through the veils of the thoughts and noise in and around you, to filter them out, to stop pressuring yourself to confirm to energy-draining and soul-killing behaviors and activities. One you learn to hear the difference between this inner and outer chatter and hear the real voice inside, you will discover you never need to feel alone or lost again. You have access to a guide that will take you exactly where you need to go and what you need to do.
Listening will eventually lead to following the instructions of this inner guide. When you do, you will notice that you are always taken care of, which is not the case when you follow the random thoughts in your head or the thoughts of others. To rise above the realm of mere thoughts, it is necessary to tune into a higher frequency--the one that is in alignment with your inner voice. When you do this, then life itself will speak to you wherever you are. You will receive signs and signals in your external world that resonate with your intuition, and you will know you are on the right path.
Thoughts are not the enemy. They are a tool that was designed to serve us. They were never meant to be the master or take the lead in our lives.
To make it simple, you can see thoughts as preoccupied with your personality (which is NOT who you are) and your intuition as the communication from your Real or Higher Self, the part of you connected with the ALL. Your personality is a construct that was created by your parents, your education and your culture. It has a role to play, but it was never supposed to lead. It knows nothing about your essence or the Real You.
When you turn the volume down on all of the thoughts and concerns of the personality, what you are doing is taking steps to reconnect with your authentic Self. Therein, lies the ultimate freedom. What's especially sweet about this is that instead of feeling strange or foreign, it will feel as though you've come home. It will be as natural as breathing, and it's always available to you.