We all live in two worlds: our inner and outer worlds.
Our outer world is our ego story. It is our shell, our mask, and our visible life. It encompasses our name, our identity, our family, and our day-to-day routine. In this world, we shop, we work, we spend time with friends, we pay bills, we watch TV, we exercise, and we travel. In our ego story, we have thoughts and feelings, but they are often reactive to our immediate circumstances, and we often lack awareness around them. When we only inhabit our outer world, we look externally for what we seek. We look for happiness and contentment in a job, money, a relationship and acquisitions. We try to fill our outer world with stuff that makes it appear to be substantial.
Our inner world is our ‘consciousness.’ It is also referred to as our core self, or our soul. It contains our intuition, our level of self-love, feelings, & our level of engagement with life. It is our deep feeling, our inner knowing, and our longing. Our inner life can be a terrifying until we learn to navigate the landscape. It is like fumbling through the dark until we switch on the light in our life to watch it become a radiant sunrise.
OUR NEED FOR SOLITUDE
The first step of living in tune with our inner life is spending time in solitude. Most of us have solitude all wrong. We think it is the desolate feeling of loneliness that can come when we are by ourselves, in unconscious fear. In this place, we do anything to escape from it. We make compulsive phone calls and send texts, we go for a run and keep running to the point of physical exhaustion, or we turn on mind-numbing television in an attempt to drown out the fear.
In contrast, solitude is directed and conscious time alone. It means meditating or journalling or doing anything that nurtures our soul. This may be listening to music while preparing a nourishing meal, or having a candle-lit bath, or going for a gentle and mindful walk. Once we go into solitude, we learn to love it, and the silence that was originally so confronting actually becomes a haven. This reminds me of a great quote by Pearle Cleage: “Loneliness is black coffee and late-night television; solitude is herbal tea and soft music. Solitude, quality solitude, is an assertion of self-worth, because only in the stillness can we hear the truth of our own unique voices.”
Solitude is the gateway into our inner world. Once we have the self-love to sit in silence by ourselves, we are rewarded with the radiance of the inner world. It is the place that delivers everything we seek: feelings of happiness, bliss, joy, abundance, oneness, and connectedness.
And being able to experience quality solitude is also the gateway to having nourishing intimate relationships with others. Being able to witness and honour our own soul allows us to witness and honour the souls of others. That is all we can ask for in our relationships: to see and be seen, with conscious eyes.
And it’s a paradox: once we inhabit our inner world, our outer world starts to take care of itself.