July 17, 2013

What’s Happening Inside?.


When your mind and heart are truly open abundance will flow to you effortlessly and easily.

When aiming for success, people spend many years building up the externals of their lives. As a result, they generally meet with good fortune.

The expected rewards arrive, in terms of money, status, and accomplishments. This is all to the good, but if your attention is entirely focused outwardly, how can you know what is happening inside?

I recently met Donna, a woman who has risen up the ladder to become the chief public relations person at a major international corporation. Now fifty, she is enthusiastic, even bubbly. She can travel wherever she likes, and her efforts to become Super Mom have paid off – her college-age children love her, and her ex-husband, a successful private banker, is still her best friend. Their divorce, they both agreed, has worked out for the best.

So why is Donna suddenly having days filled with anxiety and occasional panic attacks – to the point that her family doctor has prescribed tranquilizers? I talked with her for an hour, and it soon became apparent that she had given away too much of herself. Her time, energy, and emotions had gone outward to family, friends, and work. No wonder everyone who knows Donna sees her as a wonderful person – except herself. In her anxious moments she dreads a future where she will be forgotten and alone.

Sadly, the reason for this is that once you have given yourself away, you are already forgotten and alone. Without other people to validate her, Donna has a hard time enjoying her own company, much less seeing how worthy she really is. For decades it didn't seem to matter what was happening inside, and now her beautifully managed external life is mismatched to an inner life that is disorganized and unsatisfying.

I don't think Donna is an exception; countless successful people cannot handle retirement day, for instance, because it means losing their external drive and being left to live with a stranger, themselves. Nothing is more important than knowing what is happening inside. Not that you are like a doctor checking in on his patient. The point is to learn who you really are, and since the self changes over time, who you really are is dynamic, shifting, and constantly renewing itself.

That's how the self naturally grows and evolves. When the opposite happens and the self stagnates, becomes boring, and loses interest, it has been starved of attention. One advantage that the East has over the West is that in the East the self is the source of creativity, intelligence, and bliss, and these qualities grow the more you pay attention. This is the process of waking up, and it remains interesting for a lifetime – if you have a real goal in mind. In the West, the self is considered a problem, leading to egotism, self-indulgence, or personal demons no one would enjoy meeting.

Both images are true, but they exist at different levels. The negative aspects are psychological, which is a shallower level than the true self, which is calm, peaceful, wise, and joyful. Getting past your demons and finding your true self is the very essence of a quest. What gave the East its advantage is that the quest has been mapped out accurately for thousands of years in the great wisdom traditions rooted in India.

But it's not necessary to "go Eastern" in order to seek your true self. You only need to be interested in what's happening inside and to keep paying attention. In other words, it's just a matter of getting back into balance, paying as much attention to the inner world as you do to the outer. External rewards will still be there. You aren't asked to become so self-absorbed that you forget the outside world of family, friends, and career. As the noted spiritual teacher J. Krishnamurti put it, you can experience the timeless and still catch the train. Missing the train home from work doesn't mean you're spiritual; it means you've gotten lost in a private dream.

As a quick indicator of how much of your attention goes outward and how much goes inward, look at the following two lists. Roughly estimate how many hours you devote to each time.

List A: External, the world "out there"

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Career
  • School, higher education
  • Status
  • Wealth
  • Property and possessions
  • Politics
  • Hobbies
  • Exercise, going to the gym
  • Going to the movies
  • Having sex
  • Internet and social media
  • Video games
  • Television
  • Travel
  • Service organizations
  • Charity

List B: Internal, the world "in here"

  • Meditation
  • Contemplation
  • Prayer
  • Self-reflection
  • Stress management
  • Reading spiritual material, poems and inspirational literature
  • Psychotherapy
  • Personal growth
  • Intimacy
  • Bonding with someone else empathically, or out of compassion
  • Appreciation and gratitude, toward yourself and others
  • Exploring the world’s wisdom traditions
  • Taking a period of silence
  • Church attendance
  • Going on a spiritual retreat

Most people would favor externals 4 to 1 or even 10 to 1 over their inner life – and that's up from twenty years ago. Consciousness is on the rise, and most of us realize the value of meditation and stress management, even if time hasn't been set aside to pay attention to them. I'm not suggesting that there's an ideal ratio to aim for; the inner life isn't precisely measured in hours, and certain externals, like a close family, enrich your inner life.

For now, just be aware of these two lists and how much you participate in them. In the next post we'll discuss why it's so valuable to know what's going on inside – just as there is higher consciousness, there is also higher success. It goes by the name of wisdom.

Originally published by Linkedin

Write Your Comment

  1. ehite

    my inner life is amazing, visionary, and inspiring because I see how humanity can save itself and recognize its oneness with ALL thus saving the planet from current materialistic, exploitative harm. Outer life is the challenge, but I live to the dictates of my soul, and believe that "this is just a test" (on both personality level, and a broader human level). We need to become good stewards of the planet, and also our brothers` keeper. AL of our brothers and sisters. If any human on the planet is not thriving (see UN Bill of Human Rights) it is ALL of our problem. But when I say this to many, people only care about themselves, their kids, their families. WE ARE ALL ONE HUMAN FAMILY.

  2. Lynette Davis

    Just done one of his meditations amazing.

  3. Debbra

    Excellent reminder to listen to our inner voice calling to be kind and loving to ourselves ... The whole article is like a mantra - Thank You

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