Tuesday, February 23, 2016

________________________ AN INTERIOR LIFE _________________________

Lately, I have been thinking about what it actually means to have 'An Interior Life'. I have often thought that it had a lot to do with a conventional religious framework, something that had to be sanctioned and approved of by some sort of organised religious institutions.

Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist based in Sarasota, FL, USA. This is her definition which I find interesting.

"Having a rich “interior life” may be key to finding meaning and happiness in our existence and undoubtedly promotes emotional health.

What does it mean to have a rich interior life? People who have one reflect on themselves and their place in the world with curiosity, not judgment. They engage with ideas and wonder a great deal. They spend time musing and mulling over, which is not the same as ruminating about the past or being anxious about the future. They have no stake in this process except intellectually enlightening their horizons and broadening their understanding of the world. Their inner life excites them and is a resource.

People with rich interior lives generally enjoy their own company because it brings them happiness. Spending time in their minds is a pleasurable, not a scary, activity. They enjoy going wherever their thoughts and ideas lead them—to music, art, history, current events, literature, science, or sports — and find satisfaction in the pursuit of possibility. They yearn to know and learn, not to be right, and their thinking has depth and breadth. They don’t worry much about what others think of them. They enjoy social activities and engaging in external pleasures, and their joy comes from within as well as without.

Having a rich inner life means not constantly being busy doing. Our inner lives may be compromised if we are always doing something and/or being with other people – rather than spending time alone. How do you find out who you are and what you think if you don’t spend reflective time with yourself? How do you grow to love yourself if you barely know yourself? Without a rich interior life, people seek comfort in externals—food, people, activity, etc.—and become dependent on them to stimulate (and simulate) pleasure."

The Churches definition of the Interior Life goes something like this:

"The Interior life is a life which seeks God in everything, a life of prayer and the practice of living in the presence of God. It connotes intimate, friendly conversation with Him, and a determined focus on internal prayer versus external actions, while these latter are transformed into means of prayer."

I wonder whether if we all had an interior life according to Karen R Koenigs definition the "Externalising" of our "Interiorising" would mean that God would not become something 'Up There' or 'Out There' or even 'In There', rather God would be right here in front of us in the unique "being - ness" of another creature - ANY creature, and the cosmos that cradles us all.


Mark The Skint Sailor said...

I always think its worth stopping to understand beauty of the complexity of what it means to be a human being placed upon this planet of ours.

The billions of years it has taken to forge the components it takes to make a human: the calcium and the carbon for instance were forged in some ancient star, long since burned out and spread to the cosmic wind, to be captured finally by our own newly emerging star, the Sun. Those complex compounds then became the Earth, which purely by chance ended up in the "goldilocks" zone and over another few billions of years cooled and was bombarded by comets which brought yet more complex compounds such as amino acids to the primordial Earth. Thanks to the Earth's position relative to the Sun those compounds had time to brew and become simple lifeforms, which eventually became humans.

On a macro scale that's amazing enough, but if you delve deeper and smaller and understand the complexity of interactions of the various sub-atomic particles on a quantum scale the sheer scale of the achievement and the billions upon billions or random interactions it took to just put a man in a sail boat just boggles the mind.

Lol, I've gone all Zen....

Actually, best not think about it and concentrate on the sailing... :-)

Keep Reaching said...

Excellent post - much appreciated.

I am absolutely convinced that a genuine curiosity/questioning about others and self is by far the best way to relate to live. It may take more work (at least in the beginning) than resting comfortable behind preconceived notions, snap judgments, prejudice but, once done, it is really liberating.

And, as to God, I have no idea what he/she/it is but I think in looking for him/her/it, you have to include your inner self as a major component.

Alden Smith said...

Mark, thank you for taking the time to make some thoughtful comments on my posting.

I quite like the idea that the fundamental elements that we are made of were forged aeons ago in the heart of a star and that we are part of an unfolding complexity that is still evolving.

The complexity of it all gets even more mysterious when you consider that the worlds you commented on - the Macro world and the Quantum world operate on two completely different sets of physics, the Macro on Newtons Laws and the Quantum world on Einsteins theories of Quantum mechanics (If you include Heisenburgs 'Uncertainty Principle' it gets even stranger!).

But certainly if it took all that to put someone in a sailboat, then it was time well spent in my opinion LOL !

Alden Smith said...

Thanks for you comments 'Keep Reaching'.

I agree that we need to include our inner self as part of the definition of 'God' - as you say " ... your inner self as a major component".

I tend to think that the word 'God' is a place holder for a transcendent reality or truth that is best thought about in a 'non dualistic' way as opposed to a dualistic theology. The mystics of all the great religious traditions state that "The kingdom of god is within". These ideas are echoed by many Psychologists (C.G.Jung et al) who state that the 'God' archetype is within us and we can find it if we set upon a serious spiritual path.

I find the idea of 'Non Dualism' attractive because by implication it means that everything is interconnected and our survival is dependent on looking after not just ourselves, but everyone and everything on the planet including the natural world of plants and animals.