Cultivating the Inner Life
Our capacity for what psychoanalyst Adam Phillips has termed "fertile solitude" is absolutely essential not only for our creativity but for the basic fabric of our happiness — without time and space unburdened from external input and social strain, we'd be unable to fully inhabit our interior life, which is the raw material of all art. – Maria Popova So how is your interior life these days?
I recently heard an acquaintance of mine say of a mutual friend of ours, "She has a really BIG life. Well, a really big exterior life, anyway." Initially, I thought this was a slight to our friend's "interior life," and when I called her on it, she said, "No, no I'm not suggesting she has a small interior life. I just think it's hard for anyone to know that about another person." Interesting point, right?
It seems worthy of consideration: what is the balance between my inner life and my outer life? It's easier to see and to assess our engagement with the world, the house, the job, the next trip, the inevitable dramas. But there's no way to gauge the inner life of anyone. There's are very few pathways into that terrain.
But we can know that about ourselves, can't we? Sometimes. Hopefully. Well, let's put it this way, most of us probably have a sense about the balance (or lack thereof) between our inner life and our outer life.
And here's the rub for those of us who fail to attend to that inner/outer life balance. When we become dissatisfied with some aspect of our lives, we often think we can assuage that dissatisfaction by changing something in the outer life. Buy a new house. Take another trip. Decorate the bedroom. Change jobs. Ultimately, though, most of us realize that the disruption we are experiencing is ultimately attributable to something sorely missing in the inner life.
In our work at LifeArt Studio, we try to address this balance with clients and workshop participants. We examine the amount of time, energy, and resources we designate to both the big actions of our lives, as well as the subtle inner rumblings of our lives. It's not easy. The world makes attention to the inner life very challenging with work, family, distractions, fears, to-do lists, and the inevitable curtain of denial.
We have a remedy. (Or at least a beginning to a remedy. . . .)
For the next two Wednesdays, we are opening our Mindfulness Techniques class to anyone who wants to learn more about calming the inner critic, pulling back the curtain of denial, and learning some concrete strategies for being present to and engaged with our inner lives — that profoundly wise, intuitive, and creative part of each one of us that wants to flourish.
On June 8, Marylou Gantner, specialist in teaching progressive relaxation, gives us an opportunity to learn about her method for relaxing and diving deep. And then, on June 15, therapist Heidi Behr will teach us about Emotional Freedom Technique, or tapping, a method of reducing anxiety and trauma. Read more about these sessions on the Classes & Events page on this website. You can register for either or both of these session by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the gentle tutelage of these two skilled teachers, you are sure to cultivate a deeper, calmer, more grounded inner life. I would love to have you join us if you can.
Photo credit: Mitchell O'Rear