The Internal Dialog

By Harold Stearley At Earthwalking

We’re already nine days into the new year and I realize I haven’t posted anything yet.  True, things have been busy.  Crazy busy.  But that’s no excuse.  After all, my mind is constantly churning out thoughts I seem to have no control over.

Spewing and spewing more words, phrases, ideas, and concepts than I can wrap my head around.  Nonstop.  Mass internal confusion.  The collision of thoughts like sub-atomic particles ricocheting around in a super collider.

Condensation trails in a cloud chamber.

It’s no wonder it’s tough to think and write cohesively.

What is that voice in our heads constantly telling us how the world is?  And I don’t mean that voice from the subconscious that warns us when we need it most – that’s our gut talking.  That’s intuition.  That’s something entirely different.

No, the everyday, run of the mill, monotone, never-ceasing-to-chatter documentary.  That’s the one I’m talking about.

It goes by several names.

The new branding of the ancient concept has been “self-talk.”  I personally don’t like that term as it implies more control over it than I think we have.  I better like the term, “the internal dialog.”  I picked up that phrase up reading Castaneda’s books back in my teenage years.

There’s another term I picked up over the years that refers to a bit different view of that voice, or voices, in our minds and it is the “Mitote.”  If you look for the translation of this word you’ll find that it refers to an indigenous dance of Mexico, more specifically, the Aztecs.*  You’ll also see it used in the context of a party or celebration.  Then again, it’s defined as being an uproar, a disturbance, an annoying or uncomfortable action.  And finally, it can be an initiative, a proposal or a singular idea.

But the context I most appreciate for this term is that of it being the thousands of voices in our heads all speaking at the same time.  That annoying uproar that starts infiltrating our minds before birth and doesn’t cease until our deaths.  It’s essentially a “fog of perception.”  A description of the world and all of its elements in terms of language, culture, and all other “accepted” social beliefs and institutions.

Other correlative terms include: “Illusion” or “Maya.”

This fog, this clutter, blocks our ability to actually “see” and experience the world, and all that’s in it, as it truly is because it’s a pre-programmed, homogenized, and restricted description that has been repeated over and over for centuries.  With slight refinements and updates, it’s the software that’s loaded into our brains, without permission, that colors our entire world view.

It’s also very judgmental, chaotic, and just plain aggravating at times.

The Mitote not only prevents us from seeing the truth of the world, it prevents us from seeing the truth about ourselves.  About who and what we really are.

Now that’s a big mouthful to swallow.  Gulp!

Our internal dialog, a singular voice speaking to ourselves, could be described as a small fraction of the Mitote.  Usually, our voice consolidates and mimics the other voices and we don’t even realize it.  In fact, we are frequently deceived because we believe we are having original thoughts when these concepts have already been inserted into our neural network.  Pre-wired for our convenience.

And sensibly, this voice, our internal dialog spewing its chaos and confusion, is the one we seek to quiet when practicing meditation.

Shut up already!

So, meditation not only calms the mind, it allows us to see past the illusion.  Past the facade of architecture constructed to obscure reality.  A reality not favored by those intent on social control.

And I like that word facade too.  “An outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.”  Wouldn’t it be nice to see a credible, tangible, untainted, reliable, verifiable, and unmalleable world view?

And if we could experience that view, without the internal pandemonium, would we be able to recognize it after being subjected to our lifelong brainwashing?  Our domestication?

Could we see through the illusion?

I remember a Buddhist parable where the Master pulled his best student aside and sent him on a mission.  The Master gave the student a dove and instructed him to go where no one could see him and kill the bird.  Puzzled, the student asked why, but the Master would tell him no more.  It was a test.

So, the student began walking through the village searching for a place where no eyes could see him.  He wandered out into the surrounding farmland, but there were still people not so far away that their eyes could not pry.  He finally entered the wilderness, but there were so many other animal species, and they were all wary of this man holding an innocent dove, restricting it from its freedom.

He labored on and on to depths of the wilds he had never experienced.  But even there, the insects and plants flourished.  He felt their eyes upon him.

He finally climbed a mountain, going far above the tree-line, to an area so cold and desolate that no species could thrive.  Even he would only survive a short time in this barren and oxygen-deprived of all lands.

He looked down at the innocent dove he held in his hands and prepared to snap its neck, but thought that maybe he should meditate on his actions first.  And that’s when the realization came through.

He retraced his steps back to the monastery, met his Master, and presented him the live dove.  His Master smiled and asked him why he had not carried out his mission.  The student replied, there is no such place for there is always a witness – ourselves.

He had passed his Master’s test.

Yes, we are always our own witness.  And we inherently know when actions are wrong or right.  Often more by feeling or intuiting, and not by wading through the maze of the Mitote.  Or even the singular conglomeration of those thousand voices comprising our internal dialog.  We can see through the social programing if we take the time, hike the distance, clear that fog of perception long enough to see the truth.

It’s like waking from a dream.  And just what will we see?  Feel?  Believe?

There’s a whole world out there to experience.  To experience anew, without the cloud of preconceived and pre-programmed ideology.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all awoke from this social-drug-induced sleep . . .


In Metta

Photo: A reflection from a silver painted light bulb. 🙂 If you look close in the bottom center of the shot, you’ll see the camera.  I had ducked down behind the desk.  In the foreground is an antique clock, followed by a candle holder – three candles that flickered three times during the timed-exposure.  Finally, there is the table lamp.  All-in-all, a distorted or contorted view of what we regard as “normally perceived reality.”  But in a world where our brains are filled with preconceptions, maybe time and space do bend in ways we can’t conceive with our limited senses and socially-induced prejudices.

Cyrstal Ball +SPF

* And here are a couple of links describing the dance version of the Mitote 🙂


Latin American Dance

** It’s claimed that death releases us from the grip of the internal dialog.  We will then experience, without prejudgment, our true spiritual self and all that surrounds us.  And it’s also been postulated that taking hallucinogenic drugs produces a similar death-like experience where that internal dictator “voice” is shut down.  Could the visions remaining after that shut down, normally thought of as hallucinations, actually be reality?  A reality so foreign to us to be beyond our current level of comprehension because it has not been pre-interpreted and spoon-fed to our brains?

56 thoughts on “The Internal Dialog”

  1. What a beautiful story. It’s about having integrity no matter what others say or do.

    Nice cosmic photo too.

    I fed some pigeons in Transylvania in November. There was a beautiful white dove amongst them. I took some photos. It came up to me. We forget pigeons are doves. We are all equal in this world and every action has meaning and a kind act ripples a long way.

    Glad the dove lived to fly another day….

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much! What a wonderful image of you feeding the pigeons in such an iconic place – I can only imagine. We are indeed all equal, and part of the many ripples. I wish you great peace for this next revolution around the Sun 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, it can drive a person batty. I don’t have as much trouble with it as I did in my younger days, but when under stress it can rise in crescendo once again. Fortunately that happens less frequently and is less intense than it was at one time. Great post!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have mellowed with age and therefore am not as susceptible to the mind chatter, or just the wisdom that comes with experience, but I am grateful not to have the discordant clang that is mind chatter on a continuous loop like it once was. Very grateful! LOL

        Liked by 3 people

  2. the lasting moment for me is the three candles flickering three times. that image told me to sit up and pay extra attention. I love the number three, the trinity. I felt a bright light from all the other commenters and their words uplift me along with yours. Thank you all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you ! And thanks for your comments. Three is a special number, the first departure from the singular and then the dual nature of things. And the not only the trinity, but it symbolizes creativity, birth and the mystical. I just read a couple of posts on your page – well done!


  3. I read it three times – once last night, twice this morning. Naturally I had to consult Google Translate throughout the process. However, despite all the struggle and toil for my Chinese-infiltrated mind, I felt such pure joy🕊 Simply put, your writing is exquisite.

    Reading it is like drinking fine tea – there is aroma even before the start; there is crispy freshness on tongue tip while sipping and savoring; and there is rich, fragrant aftertaste lingering on in throat deep …

    Besides exquisite, another word conjured up is potent. Like a fascinating cactus plant, your style of thinking and writing is captivating – somewhat spiky on the outside, yet succulent on the inside; tough enough to self-sustain in any desert scrubland, meanwhile tender and nourishing to ease the thirst of all travelers alike.

    A Chinese expression also comes to mind, 赤子之心, meaning ‘pure heart of a child’. That’s my impression about you, gathered through reading your works. When you say someone has 赤子之心, it means although his skin has weathered, his heart remains pure. In other words, he has successfully managed NOT to grow up too much – just about a right concoction of ole soul and free spirit …

    In the end I just want to say I feel grateful reading your words. The kind of appreciation we dedicate to beautiful things on Earth – the river creek in deep forest, the wild flowers around mountain rocks, or the bold, brilliant colors of a morning sky …

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow! I’m not really sure how to respond (blush). I don’t think I’ve ever received such a wonderful compliment and I love the way you’ve written it. You really have mastered language and expression. I also love the Chinese expression of “pure heart of a child” – that is something I truly aspire to retain. One of the reasons I love WordPress is that I’ve gotten to meet some amazing people and read their brilliant writing. And yours falls into that category – brilliant. I am anxious to read more of your posts. I just wish I lived closer and could meet in person, have a cup of tea, and meld souls, thoughts, and minds . . .

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am happy you like it ❤ Surely I will carry on my wrestling with language and writing. If we did meet in person though, you would find my verbal expression not only unable to meld souls, thoughts and minds, but actually distance minds, thoughts, and souls. Now, next time if you come across some 'poker face' Chinese on the street, you must know they inwardly don't mean to be so indifferent, they just can't help it 🐱

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I had to think on this a bit before responding. Last year I was very fortunate to have been able to join a Tai Chi class at our University. The instructor was part of a cultural exchange between the US and China. And she was absolutely amazing to behold, so gracious. So fluid, mesmerizing. She was always very expressive, and tried to learn English as well as teach us some Chinese. But body language is universal even if she seemed stoic at times in terms of verbal communication. I had the sense that she, and the other members of her exchange group, were strictly watched by their government and so they had to maintain a poker face. I don’t know if that is true or if there is just a cultural difference. But I never had the sense of her or her colleagues being indifferent, and I definitely felt the presence of a wondrous soul. It was an honor and a privilege to be her student. Your writing is a gift, and I can’t imagine you being indifferent. Even if not verbal, your soul would shine through 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. First Dot brought up the issue of indifference, and then you, earthwalking, address it. So, just to bring the number to three into this meeting in cyberspace, I have something to add about indifference. I experienced a youtube TED talk yesterday. The speaker takes the listener through a journey of different parts of self, and after spending 19 minutes of a 20 minute presentation, showing us all how easily done this is, he then spends the last minute begging his audience to never be indifferent. So . . . you Dot, you earthwalking and all the commentors on earthwalking13’s blog, your speech too has felt a privilege to receive . . . . pleased to meet you! Rose

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks for your insights Rose! Very happy to have you as part of this discussion. Which Ted talk did you watch, I’d like to see it. In the current climate here in the states, it is easy to become indifferent to many issues. People are simply overwhelmed with the day-to-day existence.


      5. I have a lot of trouble understanding how wordpress works. I think I just unsubscribed to your blog just now, not meaning to do that. I wanted to unsubscribe from the Variety blog. Dont know if you will get this message.
        Yes, the TED talk on indifference. Ive thought more on it. There is the possibility that a lot of people already make conscious choices which over-ride their primitive brain. A greater portion of his audience than the speaker realised perhaps.
        When I was washing the dishes just now I was thinking about this and heard what sounded like someone tapping at the window of the front door. Might have been hail. But I felt the tapping might also have been a signal to me to be alert to what I was thinking at that moment. This is one example of how the Tao speaks to me. There are many ways but I am not always listening.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Your message came through. I think Tao speaks to us in many ways, like you say, it depends on whether we’re receptive 🙂 I don’t believe in coincidence either, so meeting on the blog site is purposeful


      7. I see, so what was merely meant to mean a helpless sense I feel about my incapability to communicate effectively has led to a discussion on deliberate choice of indifference … I feel even more awestruck by the power of language now 🙊🐱

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If she’s there just to teach Tai Chi, I doubt she’s watched by government. It’s not as if she’s got top secret information to exchange. What I meant to say in my last comment is language can be more of a hindrance than help. Of course all people’s fundamental elements are the same, and nothing new. Language is a double-edged sword, it might bring people closer, or it might create misleading of all sorts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right, she has no government secrets that require surveillance. I wondered about that because many years ago, when I was married to my first wife, we lived in married student housing. We were one of only two American families there. The rest were from other countries. Iraq and Iran were at war at the time, and those families reported to us that they were definitely watched, and fellow exchange students had been called back to their countries if it was perceived that they were becoming too westernized. I know that despite what my own country claims, it is engaged in a great deal of surveillance of its own citizens. Strange times. Thanks for the clarity about indifference. I totally agree, sometimes language is a hindrance and creates many misunderstandings. As much as I do love language, we humans like to fill in gaps, and many times incorrectly. There is something to be said for face to face discussion, where you can read a person’s body and instantly correct mistakes. I like the idea of bringing people closer together. I think we have so much more in common than many realize 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The “Inner Voice” as Micheal A Singer describes in the first half of his book “The Untethered Soul” deals with controlling that chatty overbearing voice. He proposes, that just by recognizing this inner voice, shows that the voice is not you! Because you are the one witnessing it. You are separated from your inner voice because you can acknowledge hearing it.

    Once you can purposely and independently listen to it, as say, you listen to another person speaking, you can then work on quieting this intruding fellow who lives in your head spouting all kinds of emotional self-indulged garbage. Think of the sleepless nights and anxiety your inner voice has caused over the years because you were unable to “turn it off.” It seems to me that controlling your inner voice is a key to maintaining, even improving ones health, both physically and mentally.

    Incidentally the second half of his book strayed in other directions that I just couldn’t relate to but I found the first half most interesting. Perhaps a Library borrow before purchase would be prudent? Enjoyed your post earthwalking13!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insights. The book by Singer, at least the first part, sounds pretty interesting. The idea that the voice my not be ours at all is intriguing. Time to bitch slap that voice around a little : -)

      Liked by 1 person

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