By Ashwin Jose
There are 2 journeys we need to undertake being a human being — The external and internal journey.
The external journey is one of seeking, experiencing, acquiring, establishing, consuming and integrating many of the offerings of the material world. Even though it appears that the external comforts and pleasures are the key to fulfillment, yet it is time-bound and temporal.
The internal is the true catalyst of the external journey. The endless barrage of needs, wants, expectations, beliefs, emotions, thought patterns and intuition forms the choppy internal seas, which are navigated through conscious intention and awareness.
The adage “Know Thyself”, inscribed at the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi is our life’s work. The job of integrating a fractured self at odds with each into a loving, compassionate being where all aspects support and act in unison.
The dark (pain, trauma, anger, craving, addiction, habitual thought patterns) are integrated into the light (Being present and aware to our thoughts, actions and words).
Unification and resolution of internal conflicts lead to a completeness that we are desperately seeking outside. The constant need to fill the incompleteness, which fuels our feverish, desires slowly fades away.
Here are some steps to begin the internal journey of piecing together “The Self”.
- Acknowledging that the default state of the identity is one of fragmentation and compartmentalization. There are aspects of the identity that are validated by our external world. There are other “shadow” aspects that are condoned and forced into repression.
Integrating pain, anger, disappointment, rage, lust, fears and any undesirable feeling or emotion are essential for completeness. We are habitually taught to avoid high sensations and avoid emotions by various means of anesthetizing it by distracting ourselves. Excesses of food, addictions, sex, compulsive behaviors and emotions stems from the fact that we all share a pain body.
A pain body that is the storehouse of all pain and trauma we have suppressed across the years and that which is slowly draining us of our vitality and love. Pain must be experienced with non-judgment, purely as sensation.
Attach no stories or evaluations of the identity; the identity loves to attach itself to a fixed point of view.
Example: He/She left me because I am broken. Yet, we have the need to construct our identity based on our external experiences. Instead, cultivate awareness of the context, the grand canvas on which the play of emotions occur.
Observe it unflinchingly — observe the compulsive thoughts, words and emotions, which spew into the self. Experience it but let it flow through you, forgiveness and loving the darkness is the way out.
2. Withdrawing the senses: The human organism creates impressions in the mind, through the use of the senses. The eyes crave to see images that stir and create emotion and sensations. The ears crave words that the identity wants to hear: music and vibrations, which generate sensations. The tongue craves all tastes and delights of sensation. The touch craves warmth and oneness, stimulation of mind and body.
Hence, our concentration of energies are dissipated when we constantly seek out external sensations. Give sometime everyday to withdraw from the sensory world and go internal. Meditation, contemplation and prayer are good ways to focus the attention inwards.
3. Taking a step back from the identity. We fall into reactionary modes that are caused by the inability to step away from the default mode of “identity-consciousness”. We are too caught up in the daily operation of the human machine, to truly see it for what it is. A construct required for operating in the external world.
We assume an identity on birth, living life constantly defined by what it “thinks it to be.” The identity feel wounded, hungry and incomplete because it misplaces the true source of joy and contentment as external.
There are definite short-term joys in the external but without cultivating a internal mind of awareness and clarity, it is constantly looking for the next hit and high instead of truly being absorbed in what is present right now.
A quick exercise to step away from your identity:
1. Close your eyes~ Visualize your physical body in your mind’s eye
2. pull back from the image of yourself
3. pull back until you can see yourself in your environment in your mind’s eye
4. pull back further so that you can see yourself as a speck in the sky
5. pull back so further back now that you are in the stars and you exist only as a being aware of its existence.
This is a good exercise to see you as a third-person. Instead of asking what “I” want, ask what would “Insert Your Name here” want to contribute. Instead of what I need and want, it good to place intention on how can I fulfill my highest, grandest vision of myself that would assist as many people as possible.
To be concluded in Part 2