How are you? I mean, right now. What does it feel like inside to be you?
Most readers won’t pause long enough to explore how they feel. They want to see where this story is going. They’re interested in making progress. The questions posed above are just an artifice of writing and storytelling.
But today’s story is about your inner world and what it’s like; how that world differs from your outer world. So please take a moment to conduct an inner inventory of your feelings, and give them an accurate description beyond the habitual, “fine” or “okay.”
Too often we associate the events in the outer world as being us. When someone asks how we are, the response is often a description of events outside of self. Resilient people know the outer world has nothing to do with their inner world. That’s their secret power. The inner world is the source of their strength in any situation. That’s a place of peace.
If you’re still wondering where this story is going, it’s about you. It’s about taking time to know yourself and to show yourself some compassion. You deserve it, and you’ve earned it.
Knowing Self is Power
Knowing self is a skill and a strength. Without it, any passer-by can disturb your emotion field in an instant. A rainy day can disturb you. There is no strength in that.
The real self is tremendously powerful, but until this sense of inner stillness is met on its terms, the power it holds can’t even be comprehended. The inner self is always quiet and serene. It’s not given to making itself obvious and has no need for attention. It is the silent witness to the entirety of every person’s life experience.
This article describes the first steps to knowing the inner world of self. What a reader does with the information is entirely their own choice. Anyone can move forward to the deeper knowledge and control of meditation or simply use the information here as a strategy of self-regulation.
But let’s be clear about where this topic leads: it’s about rulership. It’s about establishing the inner world as your kingdom and your actions as the decrees of self-control.
If you can rule yourself well, the outer world will follow you.
Navigating from Within
You are the ultimate authority of the inner world. It’s entirely possible to endure the outer world of hectic events, unreasonable bosses and tight schedules with a complete sense of inner comfort – like watching a film in a theatre.
The film is the outer world. You’re sitting in a temperature controlled and pleasant space undisturbed by the events on the screen. The story line is interesting, and you may engage the actors at any time. But you are free from their drama.
Does that sound like a skill that could be useful? Perhaps a much better way to live?
It’s as close to you as your own breath.
Your Steps to Rulership
Step One: Set a Standard
The first step in any human endeavor is to establish a standard for knowing when the work is done. Below is an example that sets the bar high but not too high. Please forgive the poet’s Victorian tendencies of emphasizing the male, and substitute “adult” in its place:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Step Two: Realize the Outer World Does Not Define You
The inner world has the only power to reflect who you truly are. The act of self-examination is called reflection for that reason. Every day is another chance to match your outer actions more closely to your inner truth and the standard you’ve set. Once decided upon an an inner ideal you’d like to manifest, take small steps daily to move toward it. Hold firm in your mind that from this day forward your adherence to your standard, and nothing else, defines you.
Step Three: Give Up Judgement of All Kinds
Inner reflection will undoubtedly reveal past regrets and misinterpretations because everyone makes them. Give up judgement of self. You had the right to make those missteps. They taught you something. Learn the value of each lesson. Take the time to review them; the lessons are there.
Then extend a steadfast refusal to judge others in your life. They too are making errors and are equally entitled to them. Giving up judgement is difficult and ongoing goal, but progress is ensured with daily practice. Non-judgement is considerably easier to live with over time.
The easiest and fastest way to break the cycle of judgement is to abandon and eliminate “good” and “bad” from vocabulary and all thought. There is no good or bad; there is only now and what is true. Anything else is an arbitrary distinction of little purpose.
Step Four: Make Fewer Missteps
The practice of suspending judgement will automatically quiet the mind and raise the level of awareness. It’s the first step into your inner world. The goal is to stay within that theatre of mind. The easiest way to avoid making more missteps is to consciously concentrate on seeing the outer world as interesting but not particularly meaningful to the self.
It’s best to delay engaging the speech of other people during this time. See their speech as an outer signal of their inner self. Then ask yourself, “How does this relate to my self?”
Most of the time, it doesn’t. It may be an opportune time to reflect on your own thoughts at such a moment to evaluate which are best made public.
This exercise is about learning how to be more deliberate. It’s an opportunity to be more intentional in every action of the day. All action, and few more than simple speech, add to the energy environment of your world. That’s why setting a standard is such an important first step. Your presence affects the energy of every single place you will ever visit. You are an energy being in an energy universe.
Achieving daily deliberateness is a dramatic step forward. You’re gaining the capacity to pause reactions internally prior to releasing them. Public reactions define you. Make sure they’re as accurate as possible.
Step Five: Learn to Breathe
Breathe deeply and purposefully. This act by itself triggers the parasympathetic nervous system that releases stress and fear. Practice breathing, and develop a personal mantra to use during the most stressful moments of the day.
A favorite mantra of mine when I began regulating my reactions was “I am now. I am safe.” The first sentence is spoken during the inhale, and the second on the exhale.
It’s a rhythmic way to breathe that displaces emotional fantasies produced during stressful situations. You are safe within your inner kingdom, and there is no temptation to react to outer stimuli.
You will become the calm presence in the maelstrom of any emotional scene in life. Do you have any idea how valuable that is for your health, the people you’re with and the entire planet? You will, and that’s the day your power will be felt for the first time.
Freedom from Monkey Mind
The above steps will take concerted practice to master. After about two weeks, you’ll start to notice a difference. It may take months or years to maintain the presence of mind, but it will happen. Every day the neurons in your brain will change for the better. The useless emotional connections will wither as the power of self-control grows stronger. You will physically feel the change.
Every day of practice will slowly give dawn to a day of being free from what Buddhists call “monkey mind” where thought processes are little more than indiscriminate and useless chatter. The ability to truly concentrate takes over. Your brain functions better and your body responds.
You’ll also fully understand what Abraham Lincoln meant when he said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Make up your mind today. Happiness is well within your grasp if you can simply breathe and remain focused on your own thought. Then it’s just a matter of staying in your personal kingdom of control.