There's a mess inside you: You clean the outside. ~ The Dhammapada
In life we're confronted with many puzzling, cryptic and complex questions.
Who am I? Why do I keep making the same mistakes? Why do I continue suffering so much pain? What am I supposed to be doing with my life? Where am I going?
In our slow and tumultuous journeys we come across hundreds of possible answers, and thousands more dogmas, creeds and doctrines that claim to cure our inner sicknesses and give meaning and direction to our confusing lives.
At the end of the day, many of us forget a very simple truth:
Change - deep, long-lasting change - comes from within.
Yet many of us outsource and externalize our efforts in an attempt to change the way we think, behave and interact with ourselves, other people and the world.
This is where Involution comes in.
Involution, the antithesis of evolution, does not align itself with any particular dogma, creed or religious doctrine, but is rather an experiential practice of life.
The practice of Involution is an all-encompassing philosophy; one that can be observed in the actions of thousands. From the Sadhus, yogis and monks of the East, to the New Ageists, fitness nuts and self-help enthusiasts of the West, Involution can be observed anywhere in which a person or group of people seek inner strength, understanding, metamorphosis and liberation.
Self-Awareness As A Tool Of Inner Evolution
Without awareness, we are not truly alive. ~ J. Bugental
Are you a self-aware person? Think about this question for a minute.
How conscious are you really of the many thoughts, feelings and behaviors you exhibit during the day? If you have a tendency to:
- Be unaware that your words or actions have hurt or offended another person,
- Be self-destructive and continue to make the same mistake over and over again,
- Have trouble identifying what exactly you are feeling or thinking (poor emotional intelligence),
- Have a habit of behaving without thinking,
- Have an unclear perception of who you (think) you are,
... chances are that you are low on the self-awareness spectrum.
The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently. ~ Pema Chödrön
Self-awareness is the essential building block of inner transformation because without being aware of who we are and what we do, there is little chance that we can grow to understand why we feel, think and behave the way we do, and thus grow closer to living a life of peace.
To become a self-aware person requires patience and practice. There are no quick fixes. There are no immediate solutions. In order to follow the path of Involution, we must be persistent in our efforts. These efforts could include:
1. Paying Attention.
Consider for instance: what you are saying, how this is influencing the people around you, what you are feeling, how this is influencing your behavior, what you are thinking, when your thoughts occurred, what you like and dislike, what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Paying attention to what goes on inside of you is an excellent way of developing self-awareness.
2. Mindfulness Meditation.
There's no need to practice this for even 10 minutes a day. 5 minutes at first will suffice, but in order to make that 5 minutes count, you must make a habit of this practice. Start ideally first thing in the morning, in a quiet, comfortable place. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of becoming aware of your inner chatter, in the present moment and letting it pass. Benefits include increased inner calm and stability, and decreased emotional reactivity. You may like to learn more.
The Boat On Top Of The Ocean
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. ~ C. Jung
The non self-aware person can be compared to a little boat drifting on the surface of the ocean. The stability of that boat is completely reliant on the stability of the ocean beneath it. When the sea is turbulent and chaotic, so too is the boat; cast here and there, to and fro violently.
The same can be said of the non self-aware person; their peace and happiness is entirely controlled by how calm and stable their inner worlds are. In fact, the non self-aware person is basically a slave of their thoughts and emotions, which is the main culprit for their suffering.
The intensity of the person's servitude is dependent on the intensity of their inner turmoil. This is the principle of the Boat On Top Of The Ocean.
Freedom From Slavery
Never become a slave to your own thinking and your own self. Understand that you are continuously changing. But, in which way you will change is your free will. ~ R. Papian
It may strike you as an odd thought to think that you enslave yourself to yourself. But when we lack self-awareness, we perpetuate the pain and suffering in our lives, both within and without ourselves.
Involution can help address these problems. When we follow the process of Involution, we realize that self-awareness is an essential building block of inner transformation.
I hope you'll continue to join me on this journey.
Photo by: Cameron Gray