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6 August 2010 3 Comments

Inner Work, Part 5: Inner Work and Psychology

Inner Work, Part 5: Inner Work and Psychology

What is the difference between Psychological Work and Inner Work?

DSC00694Aim is the primary difference. Psychological Work generally aims at functional social adaptation. Inner Work aims at awakening; enlightenment. Gradually-increasing self-knowledge and Presence in the moment are more immediate goals that contribute greatly to a meaningful life. Psychological Work and Inner Work both aim to integrate Self by bringing the parts into relation with the Whole.

From the perspective of Inner Work, our psychology is a limitation. Our human possibilities far exceed complexes, history, and patterns that can be explained. Building coping skills makes you more socially functional, but this doesn’t necessarily wake you up. Inner Work includes our pasts as part of our entirety. It is not an aim of Inner Work to explain the mystery of the present with the past or to package you in socially acceptable behaviors. Inner Work rests on self discovery in the moment, opening potential in real time, not theory.

Sometimes our past is actively informing the present moment. At these times we operate on automatic, asleep to the real possibilities latent in the moment. Focusing on a particular scenario from the past as it plays out in the present moment can provide useful insight. Much of the time looking to the past is a distraction or an avoidance of exactly what is going on in the moment. Using the past to explain away the present may stop self-observation with theory or memory. Inner Work is about experience in the present, not theory. It evokes different type of insight than does Psychological Work.

As we covered in Part 2, Inner Work is not about knowing. Knowing your patterns and what you think you should do or analyzing and judging your behaviors can keep you stuck in your head like a hamster in a cage. Intellectualization or even emotional expression can become subtle ways to avoid deeper self-observation.

Mental and emotional work are useful, but until you take your observation down into the body and quit struggling to change yourself before you know who you are, you are not doing authentic Inner Work.

DSC00690The most effective Psychological Work can and does include at least some degree of Inner Work. “Sub-personalities”–Jung’s word for the different parts of you—can become integrated around your central hub of awareness. These parts of you have different values, agendas and ways of expressing themselves. Self-sabotage, for example, shows that the agendas of different parts of you are in conflict. Effective Psychological Work combined with Inner Work make it possible to directly experience each of your parts, contributing to your ability to be awake, aware, and whole in the present moment.

Deeper Inner Work takes integration a step farther by focusing less on fixing or eliminating issues and more on using them as focal points for self-observation. Try this: In circumstances where you tend to ‘check out’ or become automatic, stick around and watch yourself. Use the issue that prompts you to dissociate as a tool for awakening.

What does it mean to YOU to use one of your issues as a focal point of self-observation? Comments about Psychology and Inner Work welcome!

30 July 2010 2 Comments

Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

You may think you are doing Inner Work already. Are you?

We naturally jump to what we know already when reaching for a new concept. Assumptions based on previous knowledge can undermine understanding and insight.

DSC00724First hearing about Inner Work, you may assume that the techniques you are already doing are Inner Work–especially when you practice methods that involve “observational skills;” noticing your inner processes, energy, or body sensations. Qi gong, martial arts, meditation and yoga are several techniques that develop observational skills.

So what is the difference between doing Inner Work and developing observational techniques?

Observational techniques focus on different parts and layers of yourself. Inner Work focuses on bringing ALL parts into awareness. Skills in sensing and awareness form a platform for and contribute greatly TO inner work. But they are not Inner Work itself. They are great tools. Inner Work is the toolbox. It IS none of those skills yet can contain them all.

I am all for observational skills. They develop attention, focus, and intention–prerequisites for Presence. I have, however, seen many nearly master meditation, yoga, spiritual disciplines, or qi gong without becoming self-aware in daily life. I was initially shocked to see people with staggering development in one or more of these skills whose blind spots could swallow Texas.

Observational skills can be used to turn away from parts of ourselves we dislike or do not wish to DSC00740recognize. Intense focus on the skills themselves can substitute for broader, integrative self-awareness.

Unless you develop the central hub of self-observation—your core inner diamond that develops from effective Inner Work—key issues remain hidden from yourself. Inner Work brings whatever we practice and develop into relationship with authentic expression. This differs from grafting a shiny set of tools over a morass of seething denial.

Effective Inner Work addresses blind spots in the interests of wholeness and integrated self-awareness. I will discuss the relationship between Inner Work and Blind Spots in my next post.

What have YOU noticed in yourself or observed in others about practicing techniques? Have you seen techniques or belief systems used as a shield against life instead of a way to interface more deeply with life?

25 July 2010 2 Comments

Inner Work, Part 3: The Fruits of Inner Work

Inner Work, Part 3: The Fruits of Inner Work

DSC00672A consistent habit of Inner Work develops within you a central hub of self-observation. This capacity becomes a part of your core–central to you. It is like an inner diamond with facets that face each aspect of your personality equally, or like the center of a wheel. Each aspect of you is a spoke. The diamond image implies clarity and value. The spoke image implies direct connection between your core and the rim—expression and behavior.

Developing a central hub of awareness through effective Inner Work offers the following benefits:

  • Inner strength
  • Greater emotional balance
  • Impartial observation
  • Discernment
  • A more compassionate perspective
  • Extended capacity for real Choice
  • Evenness, from being less reactive
  • Greater ease in managing criticism from others
  • Reduced need for approval
  • Increased ability to remain consistent with your values
  • Capacity for true commitment
  • Personal agency/power
  • Ability to be true to yourself
  • Clarity regarding what is authentic and what is not
  • Greater capacity for honesty
  • Increased understanding of self and others
  • Increased capacity for authentic intimacy

Inner Work is the process of coming to know exactly who you really are, beneath all masks and behind all blind spots. As you become established in your sense of self you will be less afraid that you can lose this self to another.

The fruits of Inner Work take time to ripen and become sweeter as they do. Initial exercises in self-observation can “taste” like unripe fruit. Yet for self-observation to serve us we need to be able to do it at the times when it is difficult. As long as we check out during the moments when we are strangers to ourselves we have no real will or personal authority when we need it most.

The nature of unconsciousness is that when we are uncomfortable, scared, bored or hostile we tend to look out instead of looking in. This is like missing some of the footage on a film. We lack continuity of perception. Inner work is learning to stick around and watch ourselves as this is going on.

Continuity in self-observation is a huge challenge. If you take it on, it may be the most important thing you will ever do in your life.

DSC00755Every time you remember to notice that you are breathing, and bring your awareness fully to the moment is like putting a penny in a piggy bank. Each fully aware breath is a reward in the moment. Each breath builds equity in your capacity to string moments together and stay with yourself, Awake.

Your life cannot be transformed without changing the quality and focus of your moments. Consistently collecting a lucid moment here and a moment of awareness there transforms your entire life. If you are waiting for the coconut of enlightenment to fall upon your sleeping head, you may be sleeping under the tree when the angel of death comes along to claim you. Wake up one moment at a time.

Many different techniques lend themselves to waking up in the moment. Are these techniques Inner Work? It depends on whether or not you are working on that core diamond. I discuss the difference between Inner Work and various techniques in my next post: Inner Work Part 4: Inner Work and Self Development Techniques

Remember: Picking roses can be another chore to cross off your list or a lovely experience, depending on the quality of attention you bring to it.

Have you had a moment of lucid awareness that has inspired you or changed your life? It would be great to see your story or other comment on this post.

19 July 2010 2 Comments

Inner Work, Part 2: Knowing Is Not Enough

Inner Work, Part 2: Knowing Is Not Enough

Inner Work is the process of gradually awakening ourselves by coming to know and reclaiming all that we are. Knowing is not enough. Reclaiming means that we accept and embrace what we have come to know through direct, intimate experience. Direct experience does not require any particular belief. Belief, in fact, can interfere with open exploration.

Second only to love, Inner Work is arguably the one thing most able to give life meaning and purpose.DSC00655

Inner Work is not a method or a technique. It consists primarily of detailed of self-observation, with an aim to produce open and unbiased self-awareness.

Inner Work enhances all methods and all personal development techniques. Even the most advanced methods, techniques, and spiritual studies are severely limited unless we practice Inner Work at the same time. Without Inner Work, spiritual studies can foster arrogance, holier-than-thou attitudes, slavishness, hypocrisy, and other side-effects of making belief more important than actual experience.*

Effective Inner Work involves going into the dark caves that characterize unexplored parts of your Self, holding the wavering candle of self-awareness.

Why does the candle waver? Because we almost always fear what we might find inside. We shut down awareness and create Blind Spots in response to pain. Unfortunately lack of awareness can keep us from actually resolving our issues.

Here is a common example: Someone with a Blind Spot that functions to hide low self-esteem may habitually play the angry victim role, and feel entitled to receive without giving. Seeing this pattern would initially be painful. The Blind Spot prevents the self-reflection that might lead to change.

Inner Work is not about analyzing this type of pattern. It consists of staying present and aware while watching your self act the patterns out: Attending fully to sensations, postures, expressions, and voice tones, feeling the fears, anger, etc. that motivate our behavior. Instead of practicing—or faking–substitute behaviors you engage so fully with you are currently doing that you begin to transform from the core out. YOU do not DO this change. It occurs organically as you release resistance to what is actually happening inside.

DSC00606Inner Work is not about knowing. Knowing your patterns and what you think you should do and changing your external behavior is superficial. Analyzing and judging it will never stop you from blanking out and doing it just the same. Until you can stay WITH yourself as you act and FEEL what it is really like to be where you are inside right now, your fears and feelings are driven underground, only to crop up elsewhere, in yet another unintended act.

Inner Work cannot be done by remaining in the bright light of what you already know. Taking refuge from your fears by running from darkness is much less powerful than bringing light into that darkness.

Inner Work starts almost imperceptibly and gains momentum over a long period of time. It requires persistence, even when no results are apparent. Initially we need a trusted guide to keep our feet to the fire until we are able to sustain our own motivation and passion for deep work.

A client recently made an across-the-board life breakthrough. He compared doing Inner Work to getting a very long train moving: “At first it seems like nothing is happening, but at some point you begin gathering momentum.” Inner Work begins with simply becoming willing and able to see what is each train car and compartment.

*Part 4 of this series clarify the difference between Inner Work and methods or techniques used for personal development. Part 5, with psychology.

I would love to have your comments and observations about Inner Work!

9 July 2010 0 Comments

What Is Inner Work?

What Is Inner Work?

InnerWork2Inner Work is not mental, not emotional, not physical, not energy work. It synthesizes them all.

Inner Work is not the same as psychological work. It is not the same as working with systems like EFT, that release stored emotional impressions from the body. It is not the same as soul-retrieval work where we pull back chunks of our energy that have become exiled through trauma. All of these modalities have their place in healing. Inner Work is a more comprehensive process.

What is Inner Work?

Inner Work is the special effort it takes to become aware of exactly what is running us in any given moment. Inner Work rests on self-observation. It has to do with sensing—intimately and specifically, exactly what is going on in ourselves in the moment. Inner Work has to do with Being.

Inner Work has to do with learning exactly how to Wake Up the parts of ourselves that hide out, blank out, or simply do not show up while we are going about life. These are the parts that run us unconsciously. These are the parts that have agendas that cause self-sabotage. These parts may be busily working against whatever you are affirming. They work against what you want to attract with the Law of Attraction, doing some heavy-duty attracting on their own.

No amount of thought and Will overcome buried and exiled parts of ourselves. No amount of denial and focusing on positives brings them into step with an awake and aware wholeness.

What Works?

  • A firm and unflinching habit of neutral self-observation
  • Sensing deeply into direct experience
  • Open-minded exploration
  • Genuine acceptance
  • Curiosity and wonder
  • Courage see your blind spots and to challenge assumptions

These stances and practices permit us to use all of our life experience, including pain, to participate more fully in the miracle of life.

How has Inner Work improved the quality of your life?


Share your comments below, and please pass this post to people who will benefit.

27 October 2009 10 Comments

My Mission

My Mission

Remember what it was like walking the halls in Junior High? I, at least, was awkward and social involvement could be painful. In the midst of the stew of hormones and the demands for adjustment by the world came moments of lucid insight. I know some amazing young people. Many children receive clear inner guidance. We are open to life before we become self-conscious about what we believe.

When I was thirteen, walking those halls on my way to Girl’s Glee (singing) an internal voice told me quite clearly that my life mission involved writing a book in my mid years as an adult. This message cut through the hubbub in the hall, my hormonal mayhem, and my mish-mash of thoughts. My determined-to-be-on-time pace slacked. It was odd and irrelevant to get a compelling message out of the blue! I thought, What the heck? How do I know what I will do as an adult? and rushed to class.

MissionThe message surfaced on and off through my life, like a reminder. I began to take it as a given that I had to write a book. When I felt the information I had was the right stuff, then I wrote for seven years, daunted by the exposure involved with finishing my book. It was too complex. I had too much information. I wasn’t ready.

During another lucid moment my internal guidance said, “Market it or throw it out.” I detest marketing. Now I have built this website, my Being Total site, Facebook page, etc for one purpose: To assist those who are aware of or sensitive to subtle energies to live joyful, authentic, powerful lives.

“What Healer’s Won’t Tell You: The Smart Consumers’ Guide to Getting Top Quality Health Care” holds the most vital keynotes of my message. It contains information that should be in the hands of every care provider, healer, massage therapist, and client.