With its shorter days and longer nights, the current season invites us to more cocoon time and inner reflection.
One might think that too much inner reflection is a waste of time and an egoistic, even avoiding, strategy. Well, it can become an escape for sure (also called “spiritual bypassing”). However, turning inwards is not about looking at our navel and searching for what is wrong. Rather, inner reflection is answering a deep call from our own heart that something needs attention.
Looking inside might take different shapes. Some days, it might mean doing the inner work necessary to investigate what self-limiting pattern needs transformation. Other days, it might be an urge to address what we feel by moving it—through art, writing or moving it in some way. Answering the call to turn inwards might also take the form of an act of self-care; a day for yourself, a bodywork session, a walk out in nature, a yoga class, or a good nap.
Yet when life takes us through major changes and life events, inner reflection might just not be a choice but a necessity if we are to make it to the other side in one piece.
Of course, distracting from it, keeping busy with other things, and pretending nothing is happening can be one strategy, sadly but commonly resorted to by many. I personally believe that hard feelings do not go away unless we meet them to some degree. As the wise words of poet Robert Frost indeed express it: “The only way out is through.”
Too much for me
This is being said, there are times when what is boiling inside us feels overwhelming and impossible to look at directly. Grief, fear, rage, confusion, hopelessness… If any of these feelings have haunted you lately due to what is currently coming up in the world or in your life right now, know that you are not alone.
Although eventually our hearts are made for our feelings, we are not made to always face them all alone. In fact, if your inner landscape currently seems too hectic to hold in your own hands then you most likely are not supposed to walk it through on your own.
Sadly, many choose to rally others not to address their feelings directly but to blame or even persecute the villainized other—often including completely innocent people. Racism, sexism, antisemitism, homosexual hate… the list is terribly long. If we do not look at the emotions that the initial hurt has created, we act out onto ourselves and onto others forever. This creates an escalation of conflict, hate, and harm that we all know too well.
When will we move passed the “us against them” and “it’s their fault, so let’s hate them” kind of reasoning?
It might be the day when we decide to use each other to walk through the overwhelm, one step at a time, holding hands. Now might be the time for us to drop the illusion that “I can do it myself” and instead look out for help from other qualified beings. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom.
There is an endless number of support possibilities—therapists, healers, support groups of all sorts, yoga/dance/meditation/singing class to name a few. Instead of reaching out to our partner or close friends, we might need to extend ourselves beyond the first social circle to truly open to help. There actually is much healing just in the first step of reaching out for support. Trust me—asking for help is not my strong side!
Yoga, although it can be practiced alone, descends from community-based lineages. Schools, ashrams, and “Kulas” or groups of all sorts have been central not only to the passing of the teachings, but also to the personal and spiritual development this practice is all about. Yes, the practice of yoga offers tools that cultivate inner wisdom and deep peace through our capacity to turn inwards. Yet this inner journey of self-discovery and transformation would not be possible if not for the ongoing support of the fellow yogis and teachers.
Let us stand stronger, and wiser, together.
Let us wish that all beings find peace and the inner source of joy.