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"As Within, So Without" (Honoring the Inner Journey)

Updated: May 26

Our modern Western society is fiercely driven by what one could call “The Action Journey.” Producing…Achieving…Doing…Striving…I’m certain you know it well. For many of us, this dynamic is so ingrained in our psyche that our lives have become endless “To-Do Lists” of tasks to accomplish and goals to achieve. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with “The Action Journey” (we need it, in fact!), it is important to remember that this is not the whole ball of wax. In fact, there’s an equally valuable (and often underappreciated) aspect of life that deserves our focus and attention: ”The Inner Journey.” While it may sound cheesy or a bit cliche, the truth is that learning to lead with this concept in mind can be a real game-changer. But what, exactly, constitutes “Inner Journey Work”?

I like to think of “The Inner Journey” as the steps we take to pre-pave the way for our best possible future. Taking the time to tend to our inner landscape before jumping into action can have a profound effect on the outcomes we achieve (and the way we feel along the way). Here are some of my favorite “Inner Journey” tools: 

(1) Meditation: By spending focused, intentional time on mindfulness, we set ourselves up for success in several ways: (a) we calm our own energy and nervous system, which enables us to show up as the “best version” of ourselves as we go through our day; (b) our brain and heart waves enter into a state of coherence, which means we will have better focus, clarity, and equanimity as we navigate our “Action Journey”; (c) we tap into something larger than ourselves, which fosters our ability to see the big picture and ‘not sweat the small stuff’. But for me, the most incredible benefit of meditation has to do with what are known as “mirror neurons.” Researchers have found that as we bring ourselves into a state of calm and peace, those who are in our presence begin to be impacted. Mirror neurons are activated in their brains, enabling them to have an experience that is similarity positive to ours. Wow--what a powerful impact we can have! Whether you choose to meditate with an app (like Calm.com), in a group setting, or on your own, it’s worth incorporating this powerful practice into your daily life. 

(2) Visualization: As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”--and it’s true! Science has shown that by connecting with the vision of what we want, our brain sends out the same signals as if it were actually occurring. This ‘trains our brain’, in essence, to be better prepared for the real deal. Visualizing is a potent tool, used by many successful athletes, actors, entrepreneurs, and celebrities--and with good reason. Researchers have discovered that visualization can improve immune system functioning, relax the body, enhance athletic performance, improve memory and academic performance and more. So how can we use it in our own lives? When preparing for an event, conversation, or task, take a few moments to ask yourself, how do I want things to unfold? Then, allow a scene of your ideal outcome to play out in your mind’s eye, using all of your senses to make it as real as possible. Invite yourself to notice all of the things you would see, feel, hear, taste, and smell if this scene was actually unfolding. Not only does it feel good to focus your mind in this way, but you are essentially training your brain for success! Two of my favorite resources for Visualization are The Creative Visualization Workbook by Shakti Gawain and Creative Visualization for Beginners by Richard Webster. If you haven’t yet explored this technique, I encourage you to check it out!

(3) Intentions:  When I was training to be a personal coach, I learned about the fascinating distinction between deliberate creation and ‘creating by default.’ The former involves being intentional about where we put our energy and focus before stepping  into “The Action Journey.” The latter is when we simply show up and jump into action--often playing out familiar patterns and dynamics that may or may not serve us. When we choose to be intentional, we get clear about the energy we want to bring into a situation, and we deliberately focus on that before stepping into action. For me, this involves selecting an intention word or phrase and taking a moment to connect with it in my mind’s eye. So, for example, if I am going into what could be a potentially challenging meeting or conversation, I might set the intention of ‘connection’ or ‘meeting of the minds.’ I would allow myself to envision what that would look like and feel like (much as we did in the “Visualization” exercise above). I have found that when I get clear about the energy I want to bring into a situation, the situation itself is transformed for the better because of how I show up. An extension of this is known as “Segment Intending”, where you pause before entering each part (or “segment”) of your day and take a moment to set the intention for how you’d like it to unfold. It can be as simple as selecting an intention word, seeing the image of that occurring, and then going into the event with that in mind. But simple as it may sound, I can tell you from experience (and that of my clients) that this tool can have far-reaching effects.. 

When we choose to prioritize our “Inner Journey”, we engage in a major paradigm shift. We invite ourselves to move from simply asking, “What do I want to DO?” to also considering, “How do I want to BE?” Taking this into consideration can have life-changing effects on our experiences and those with whom we interact. 

A beautiful image to support us in balancing inner and outer journey work is the Infinity Symbol (a figure 8 turned on its side). We can think of the left loop as representing “The Inner Journey” and the right “The Action Journey.” While a balance between the two sides is ideal, oftentimes one side is ‘pinched off’ while the other is ballooning out. If you notice this to be the case, consider how you might bring in some equilibrium. Many of us can benefit from tending more to our “Inner Journey.” In doing so, we may be surprised and delighted to discover that the resulting fruits are many. Wishing you balance and peace in all things!

Namaste, 

~Abby


        Inner Journey       Action Journey

     ~setting your intention     ~carrying out the tasks

     ~BE-ing     ~DO-ing

     ~getting your energy in     ~being productive

                   alignment       ~moving, working

     ~meditation                 ~achieving

      ~visualizing                       ~taking inspired action

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