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Inner peace but outer chaos?

Posted in Enlightened Living, and Personal Growth

I received an interesting question via email recently, the person writing to me obviously had been doing quite a lot of self-development work, Reiki and other healing modalities, and was asking –

“I’d love to know ways to transform inner experience into outside reality”

I am guessing this person had reached a level of success in taming her inner environment, perhaps the same feeling many of us get when we complete our Reiki self-treatment –  peaceful and calm on the bed, only to get up into the chaos and frustration of our lives. It’s a common thought of ‘why can’t I maintain this longer?’

The simple rule, though difficult to accept and follow through with, is that your outer life is a direct mirror or reflection of your inner life.  And I mean that with no exceptions.  Any internal chaos translates into outer chaos, any internal conflict translates into outer conflict, any internal anger or fear, translates into outer anger or fear – either from you or from others.  It’s quite something to really sit with this and fully accept it. For most of us it’s easier to blame external circumstances and the behaviour of others, but if you take some time to simply observe, you will begin to see that what I am talking about is in fact true.

Let’s take an example that I realised recently.  My girls are both teenagers, and like many parents I have been noticing them pulling away and becoming more independent.  Intellectually I know this is healthy and necessary, but sitting at breakfast trying to make conversation with them glued to their phones was somehow very empty and sad for me.  I felt quite sorry for myself, and in that moment of feeling this sense of loss and incompleteness a thought arose into my head ‘what are you missing right now?’ and the answer that rose to meet it was ‘connectedness’.  And simultaneously with this word came an enormous sense of connectedness; with my children, with myself, and with my environment. I almost laughed out loud. Here I was sitting in the kitchen with my beautiful daughters stuck in my own belief system and not in the reality of the situation which was total and utter connectedness, with everything.  It was a powerful moment, not least because I had been struggling with this feeling of losing connection with them for quite some time.

The mistake many of us make in trying to transform inner to outer experience is we are still in our own mental versions of what that should look like.  Previous to this epiphany I had imagined that ‘connectedness’ with my children meant conversation, phones off, meaningful disclosure of their lives, who their friends were, how they were getting on at school, etc etc. And when this was not forthcoming I immediately assumed connection was missing. We do this all the time. We have a mental belief structure around what the outer reality should look like, and then we walk around in the dream of our lives, instead of actually being in our real, actual lives.  Its endemic! We are all individually walking around with a movie in our heads of ‘what my life should look like’, and that will bring you nothing but disappointment, suffering and loneliness.

Taking a good look at your internal experience is not easy however, it requires constant vigilance not to fall back into the movie.  I have been using this kind of vigilance for years, it’s why I think the questions now sometimes pop up into my head by themselves.  But in the beginning, the most important understanding to hold is ‘my outer life is a reflection of my inner life’ and start digging for answers in your own movie, and not out in the real world.  The real world is actually doing perfectly fine, we are the ones not aligned with it.  Resources like the Work of Byron Katie are excellent starting points; her 4 question process is transformational and allows you to see time and time again the movie you create in your mind.  Over many years of vigilance the Work becomes more natural and you question with more openness and courage. The more you see and feel the results, the more quickly and easily you dig. The great freedom in this way of doing your personal work is also the obvious fact that no one else needs to change or be different in order for you to be at peace.  How cool is that? Imagine if you could just let everyone else be exactly as they are – no need to try to change them, or make them different.

My girls can now happily be in the same room with me, feel my contentedness, and feel total acceptance for who they are and what they are doing. I can simply be connected with them as any mother is to their child.  In really feeling that I am fulfilled, they can be themselves without having to look after me or provide for my neediness.  This can only happen when you release yourself from the movie. There is no point thinking you have to let everyone be and then not really feel it – then you just add to your own guilt for not being able to do it. An authentic letting go back into reality feels like a big sigh, a relief, and usually quite funny. If you feel guilt, blame, or tension then you are in a movie about your movie – the ‘I need to be more spiritual about my life’ movie. That’s not really very helpful, to add more movies is not the point!’

So next time you notice a discord between your inner peace and the outer experience, try to notice what your internal dialogue is doing.  What is it you are yearning for and think your don’t already have? Then check in, under the dialogue and the shoulds and shouldn’ts, are you sure its not there already?  If you feel it while doing a Reiki self-treat, you can guarantee it is already present. But much like watching a horror movie in the cinema, it’s very easy to get lost in the drama and forget that you are perfectly fine, sitting in your comfy chair, eating popcorn.

photo credit: mclcbooks Water Lily via photopin (license)