As an author of programs on meditation, personal development, and spiritual growth, I often get questions about challenges people face in applying these programs to their lives. At the end of Core Energy Meditation practice, for instance, we ask “What is most important to you?” We then spend some time imagining and feeling “that” as a present reality. This patterns your mental-emotional circuitry to more readily experience “that” in your life.
Yet, many people tell me they draw a blank on that question. They just don’t know what’s most important to them or what they truly want. How can that be? After all, what is more natural than pursuing what you desire? Judging by our levels of stress and traffic, lots of us are running around busily pursuing things we want. Why, then, is this question so difficult?
First off, it seems that many of us are running around doing things we think we “should” or “have to” do, instead of doing what “we want to do.” We find ourselves so busy with these “shoulds” and “have tos” that there’s just no time for anything else. O.K. I get that. We feel pressure to survive and get it all done. I’ve been there and done lots of that. . . Until I saw that I was racing to frustration, stress, disappointment, and illness, I ran in that “rat race” for years.
At a certain point, many of us come to realize that “What I’m racing around doing isn’t getting me where I want to be. I need to try a something different.” That’s usually when people get interested in personal growth programs.
The challenge is that these programs are going to ask you to slow down, tune in, and understand what you’ve been doing, who you are, and where you want to go. The problem with that is that what you’ve been doing up to this point may not have trained you in those skills. In fact, it may have cut you off from the very abilities that you need to answer these questions. It may have cut you off from your body, your heart, and your soul.
The “rat race” has taught us to check our inner feelings at the door, live in our heads, constantly check off tasks on our “To Do” lists, and do whatever it takes to get it all done. Occasionally, an illness will crop up to slow us down, but these we treat symptomatically, so we can get back to pushing forward with the endless list of all the stuff we’ve got to do.
A personal growth practice such as meditation puts a stop sign in the middle of that action. It reveals the incessant mental chatter that drives us and asks us to develop other inner skills. It teaches us to observe the chatter without buying into it. It trains us to connect with our bodies, check in with our hearts, and wonder about our purpose in being here, now.
It’s not surprising that when we are used to continuously processing a virtual world of thoughts, visual images, sound bites, and massive amounts of information, we find our other senses atrophied and hard to access. When we go to check in with these other senses, nothing seems to be there. We’re not attuned to pick up those frequencies. We’ve lost the ability to sense guidance, to feel free flowing emotion, and to discern the path we are meant to live. In fact, when we try to focus inside there may be so much mental chatter that it drowns out the possibility of anything else.
If you continue to live in the world of this chatter, at a certain point things start to break down. You become exhausted, or sick, or so frustrated and tense that you feel you might explode. This breaking point may feel like a further problem, but it can be the moment of great opportunity. It can be the point at which you say “I’ve got to do things differently. I need to regain my balance, because this isn’t working.” At this point, you may open to connecting with neglected parts of yourself. You may open up to connecting to your body, cultivating your heart, and realizing your life purpose.
If you’ve reached that point, or if you’d just like to strengthen an already ongoing inner practice, there are some specific things you can do to regain your inner balance and raise your life to a new level. Here’s the basic idea: schedule some time every day to “check-in” with your inner state and notice “where you are coming from” in these three dimensions: body, heart, and spirit. Your mind has been busy enough. You can give your thoughts a rest during this time. You can bring them back online in a more conscious way later.
Here are some ways to practice “checking in.”
First, tune into your body. You’d think it would be natural for you to feel what is happening in your body. After all, this is where you live 24/7. However, I’ve found that, as I lead people into the simple practice of sensing what’s happening in the body, they often tell me they don’t feel anything. That’s O.K. You start from where you are. Simply know that you can awaken your inner senses.
Inner sensing is a skill that you can develop. In fact, I’d say it’s the primary skill toward knowing “who you are” and “what you’re here to do.” Sensing inside your body is the firm basis for knowing what’s important to you. Your body gives you concrete information once you learn how to pick up on what it’s saying.
So here are some instructional cues: “Feel your body as a whole from the inside. Feel the space inside your skin.” If you’re not accustomed to doing this, that instruction may sound odd. You may feel nothing at first. That’s O.K. You can begin by closing your eyes, sitting up straight, and being aware of your breathing and/or any other physical sensations that come into your awareness.
If this seems too “unfocused” and hard to practice, you can place your hands on your abdomen and become aware of sensation in your hands as you breathe consciously. Or you can simply focus on feeling the skin on the surface of your hands and, then, the feeling inside your hands. Most people are fairly sensitive to feelings in their hands. This can be very relaxing. You can then expand this feeling of inner sensation to other parts of your body. For example, you might try sensing your feet by feeling the soles of your feet on the ground. This is a great way to “get out of your head” and lower feelings of stress.
If you take frequent “inner sensing” breaks, you will begin to awaken your inner sensing abilities. You will come to be more present in your body. If you usually tune out your body or cover over your inner sensations with pain killers, alcohol, or drugs, it may take some time to reawaken your inner senses. Go slowly and be gentle with yourself.
In next month’s article, we’ll expand from that basic practice by learning how to tune into your heart and into your life purpose. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about a comprehensive practice to help you tune into your body, heart, mind, and spirit, check out: Core Energy Meditation
Copyright 2010 Kevin Schoeninger
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