I’m currently rereading Anodea Judith’s excellent book Eastern Body, Western Mind. This morning, I completed an exercise on the Inner Family that I’m going to share with you.
Anodea Judith suggests making a list of the various parts of yourself. You might include the inner child, the clown, the achiever, the lover, the critic, and so on. In my case, I listed the lost child, the inner child, the lover, the romantic, the fearful one, and the warrior.
Next to each name on the list, write a few words describing how you perceive this part of yourself.
For example, I could describe the inner child as playful, curious or innocent. The lost child might be scared and alone. The lover is open, present and sensual. The romantic believes in love. The fearful one anticipates that bad things will happen. And the warrior is stunning, strong and skilled.
Now, write down what you think each part wants. My inner child wants to experience. The lost child wants to be loved. The lover wants to make love. The romantic wants to connect. The fearful one wants peace. And the warrior wants to live.
Ask yourself how often these parts succeed in getting what they want. How realistic are their desires? And what can be done to bring them into wholeness?
In order to bring the various parts of myself into wholeness, I can connect with people, including myself. I can be open to relationship and to love. I can meditate, rest and be still. I can be in nature, surround myself with beauty, and go on adventures. Using all of my senses, I can make love with life every single day. I can be present, really live, relax, allow and enjoy.
The final part of this exercise is to look at who relates to whom. For instance, does the critic inhibit the artist? Or does the clown entertain the sad inner child?
I realise that the parts of myself that I listed seem to go in pairs. The loving, playful inner child is the lost child’s reassuring companion. The confident lover and the dreamy romantic are in perfect partnership. And the warrior protects the fearful one and makes her feel safe.
This is an interesting exercise. Try it and let me know how you get on.
Posted in Personal development, Random
Tagged achiever, adventure, anodea judith, anticipation, artist, badness, beauty, beliefs, body, books, bravery, centre, chakras, clown, companionship, confidence, connection, courage, critic, curiosity, desires, dreams, eastern body western mind, enjoyment, experience, fear, giving, good, heart, hope, human, inner child, inner family, innocence, life, live, loneliness, lost child, love, lover, meditate, mind, nature, needs, now, openness, people, perception, play, pleasure, presence, protection, reading, receiving, relationship, relaxation, rest, romance, romantic, sadness, safety, security, self-acceptance, self-discovery, self-help, sensuality, sex, sexuality, skill, soul, spirit, stillness, strength, success, touch, wants, warrior, wholeness
Do you ever feel lost? Unsure of your next step? Hesitant about which direction you’re going to take?
Will you move house, emigrate or travel the world? Would it be more sensible to start your own business or remain an employee? Should you go after this guy or that girl or concentrate on your own growth?
Well, I’m feeling pretty lost right now. I’m all over the place. And I’m angry with myself for thinking so hard and not being present.
I’m impatient too. I want to find all the answers immediately. I need to make decisions. And I worry that I don’t have the luxury of time.
But I’m afraid. Should I take the risks and trust that it’ll all work out? That it’s already unfolding exactly as it’s meant to? That I’m okay just as I am?
Today, I opened up to a friend about all this. She reminded me to tell myself that even though I don’t know what to do, I love and accept myself. Even though I feel shame and embarrassment, fear and anxiety, anger and annoyance, sadness and grief, I deeply and completely love and accept myself. She got me to tap on the feelings that arose as I spoke these words. As I tapped, I remembered this quote:
“Wherever you go, there you are.”
I can find beauty and despair anywhere. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Ireland or Greece, Thailand or Australia, if I’m in my current flat or a quiet house in the countryside, if I’m loved up or single (I can be loved up and single too of course).
All I have to work on is myself. Once I feel inner peace, everything else will fall into place. I must raise my own energy and the right path will beckon.
Right now, I feel vulnerable. Shaky. Part of me is too proud to admit this. To show my weaknesses and risk disapproval. But I’m doing it anyway.
Here I am in all my naked glory. I’m not perfect. I feel scared and uncertain. And that’s okay.
I could ask friends and family for advice. I could make an appointment with a life coach. I could listen to my acupuncturist’s words of wisdom. And I’m tempted to do all of those things. But I know that I have the answers. I need to take time out, switch off my phone, be in nature, sit in stillness and listen…
I still don’t feel good. But these emotions, events, deadlines and ultimatums are mirrors that are reflecting back to me the things I need to look at. They’re presenting me with an opportunity to make changes for the better. And I’m grateful for that.
It might seem like doors are closing but that shouldn’t limit me if I see the world as my playground. So instead of shutting down and resisting, I’m unlocking and allowing.
I have cracked open and that doesn’t feel safe. But it feels right.
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development
Tagged acceptance, acupuncture, adventure, advice, allowing, anaïs nin, anger, answers, anxiety, approval, beauty, bereavement, business, challenges, change, choice, codependency, comfort zone, courage, death, despair, doubt, eft, ego, emigration, emotional freedom technique, emotions, energy, fear, feelings, friendship, gratitude, grief, imperfection, inner peace, life, life coaching, living, loss, love, meditation, mindfulness, mirrors, nature, now, open, opportunity, patience, peace, presence, pride, relationships, resistance, risk, sadness, safety, self-acceptance, self-development, self-employment, self-love, shame, single, stillness, tapping, the tapping solution, time, travel, uncertainty, vibration, vulnerability, weakness, wherever you go there you are, work, world
Remember those noisy neighbours? Well tonight, I pop in a pair of earplugs and will myself to sleep. My body is tense from the anticipation of the noise that I wish would disappear from my life completely.
This time however, instead of trying desperately to block out the noise, I decide to really go into the feeling that it brings up in me. It feels like the noise gets right into me. I want to withdraw from it but I can’t. I believe that this shouldn’t be happening and that is what fills me with rage. I wish I could wrap myself in a safe little bubble where nothing can get in but I just can’t seem to protect myself from it.
Once I’ve felt all there is to feel, I access a memory of childhood summers snorkelling in Greece. I’d spend hours submerged in this underwater haven where all I could hear was the sound of my own breathing. There was another world down there, full of peace and colour and surprises. I long for that peace right now.
Suddenly, I have an awareness. I am insisting on shutting out a part of life. I’m not allowing certain things in. And if I’m closing myself off to the noise, what else am I resisting?
I lie in bed and tentatively begin to let it all in. I am open. I am open to the good and bad, the noise and silence, the love and despair, the fear and joy. I am open to the anger and happiness, sadness and inspiration, the beauty and simplicity, the light and the darkness. Life in all its forms. Once I start allowing the noise in, who knows what other wonderful things will appear?
I also realise that the noise isn’t an outside invader, robbing me of my calm. The struggle is within me. I am reacting to this perceived injustice. I can choose how this affects me.
Rather than viewing these things as outside of me, I accept that all aspects of life are a part of me. In my withdrawal from the noise, what noise of my own am I suppressing? I am the noise but I am also the peace. And I am the love that once seemed so external and conditional.
So tonight, I let it all in. Because it’s already there. And on that conundrum, I promptly fall asleep.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged acceptance, allowing, anger, awareness, bad, beauty, breathing, calm, choice, darkness, despair, emotion, fear, feelings, good, greece, happiness, injustice, inspiration, joy, life, light, nature, neighbours, noise, now, open, peace, perception, present, protection, rage, resistance, sadness, safety, simplicity, snorkelling, stillness, struggle, surrender, thinking, thoughts, wonder
Wrapped in a brightly coloured towel, I eye the Atlantic apprehensively. The wind whips around me, its haunting voice taunting me about my probable madness at wanting to swim in this weather. My skin is raised in the goose bumps that ingeniously serve to trap air between my body hairs in order to keep me insulated and warm. But I don’t feel warm. I’m bloody freezing.
Impulsively, I throw down the towel and hurry towards the ocean. I know from experience that inching my way in will only prolong the suffering so I submerge myself quickly and front crawl vigorously towards the horizon. It takes a while for the numbness to subside but, when it does, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of my body bobbing in the ocean, my fingers threading through the soft water, the view of the rich, green fields, chiselled cliffs, the brilliant white of the spitting waves, and the knowing that, even if my phone rings, I won’t hear it from out here in the centre of a pollock hole. I tilt my head back in the golden path of sunlight that dapples over the surface of the water.
A child in goggles gazes at the world below. His kicking feet splash me slightly. An elderly man dives in and swims determinedly in my direction. As he passes, the small waves he has generated elbow me gently across the jaw. I keep going. I am swimming through the ripples created by other people, by the wind, by the ocean, and by myself. I am in the ocean and I am part of it. I remember that a significant amount of the human body is made up of water. I am in it and it is in me. And we are all part of the same.
Afterwards, I am so grateful that I went for that swim despite my hesitation. It reminds me of the time I almost hadn’t gone to the cinema with a couple of people I barely knew. Since then, I have had lots of fun with one of those people, who has become one of my best friends. I look back at that moment of doubt whenever I consider not doing something just because I’d rather the safe option.
Later, as I settle down to read Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram, I come across these words of Johnny Cigar, an Indian slum dweller:
“Our life, it probably began inside of the ocean about four thousand million years before now… Then, a few hundred million years ago… just a little while, really, in the big history of the Earth – the living things began to be living on the land, as well. But in a way you can say that after leaving the sea… we took the ocean with us. When a woman makes a baby, she gives it water, inside her body, to grow in. That water inside her body is almost exactly the same as the water of the sea. It is salty, by just the same amount. She makes a little ocean, in her body. And not only this: Our blood and our sweating, they are both salty, almost exactly like the water from the sea is salty. We carry oceans inside of us, in our blood and in our sweat. And we are crying the oceans, in our tears.”
And so, this is life. What we fear and dread outside of ourselves is just as much inside of us. And while that scary thing that we must plunge into, without thinking too much about the possible consequences and unpleasantness, can be difficult and painful, it can also be beautiful, rewarding and so worthwhile. And that too comes from within.
Image: Author’s own
Posted in Spirituality
Tagged atlantic, beauty, connection, danger, doubt, gregory david roberts, hesitation, johnny cigar, life, living, nature, ocean, pollock holes, reward, risk, safety, scary, sea, shantaram, swimming, uncertainty, water