When you’ve lived your life based primarily on responses to external approval, or with strong personalities surrounding and influencing you, you may have lost all sense of who you are: what you actually feel, sense, and think inside. My teacher, Thomas Huebl, says that this state creates an inner fragmentation and splitting. When this lack of wholeness is the norm, the scattered state of our nervous system seems like our “normal” state.
So how do we relearn how to look and listen inward?
Dr. Cat Meyer, a psychotherapist and yoga therapist (and Rosebud Woman Ambassador), says that one of the first movements she makes with her clients is to “introcept”: to look inward as an antidote to objectification, to taking in and being quantified by the outside world: “What’s real for me? What’s inside of my own experience?”
Thomas Huebl speaks of this as well. He calls it “looking in silence.” No entertainment, nothing from outside, is needed. The importance of simple presence—the ability to know what we feel, and be completely present with ourselves, and our experience—can’t be underestimated.
This doesn’t mean it’s easy. A lot of feelings come up when you’re beginning to relax around places that have hardened in memory, belief, body. “When you’re in a stage where there is heating and stuff is melting,” Huebl continues, “you’re being more sensitive, and the emotional heat feels like it’s getting stronger.” What to do? Jacques Verduin, the founder of the GRIP (Guiding Rage Into Power) program in the California State Prison system, calls the development of the spaciousness inside to deal with these feelings “Sitting in the Fire.” Looking at the hurt or fear we carry, and staying with the discomfort as it builds and then dissolves- until we come out the other side clear and clean.
Conversely, you might not feel anything in the beginning stages of this "inner melting". Sometimes you’ve over-regulated your own insides, and just feel numb. But “even if you feel numbness,” Huebl says, “just let the numbness be. Look inside with your numbness and fear, including it in your experience. Even if you don’t know where to look! Just keep looking.”
I personally practice vipassana meditation, which includes sitting in silence for long periods of time. Silence gives me the spaciousness to deal with what Huebl calls “the incongruence in my nervous system” and to tell the difference between my preexisting filters and what is real, here, now, actual, and accurate.
This “inner precision” needs practice.
But if you try this technique you might find, as I did, that the relational structure you have with your inner life mirrors the relational structure you present with other people. An inner life of presence, ease and self love and care ripples out into the world. My friend and teacher Laura Plumb says “Self-care is World-care." And that makes you a present powerful being in whatever you do.
Ways to be practice being present and spacious:
- Be in nature, alone with yourself, for an hour or more, practicing looking inside yourself
- Participate in a program with a great teacher, such as Rosebud Woman ambassador Dr. Cat Meyer, or take a class with a master guide such as Thomas Huebl
- Join a silent dinner party simply to be in a space where all you do is focus on your sensory and inner experience
- Try different styles of meditation practice until you find one that takes you into a more open, expansive quality of mind.
Self-love and self-care begin within.