This is part 1 of a 6-part series that looks at the main steps in inner work exercises, explains why each is important and provides some tips for increasing one’s skills with each step.
Inner work exercises often begin with a suggestion to relax, to let one’s mind become foggy or to turn one’s attention inward to the sensations of the body.
Taking your attention away from the outer world helps you open to the flow of inner experience you are having. Inner experiences include thoughts, worries, aches and pains, subtle sensations you might ordinarily dismiss, as well as unexpected images, even songs and memories. Relaxing your body and mind often shifts your mood and can take you gently away from preconceived notions of what you will or should experience. You can stop making demands of yourself and just rest, noticing or not noticing what is going on inside when you pause your more familiar way of being.
Many people have trouble slowing down and relaxing. Our everyday world requires much of our attention and many of us have become very good at focusing there.
Here are some tips you might consider if you sometimes have trouble with this first step.
- Find a space or room where you are not likely to be disturbed. Turn off the ringer on your phone. Turn off your computer and other devices with sound-based alerts. If you become disturbed or distracted, take time to move to another location or simply pause or rewind the audio recording.
- Allow yourself some time to be in the process.
- Make yourself physically comfortable. You can sit or lie down.
- Once you are situated, close your eyes if that is comfortable for you, or relax your gaze.
- Take a few long, slow, deep breaths. Don’t force your breathing into any particular pattern. Just give yourself a chance to inhale and exhale in a natural way to release any tension you may be holding.
- Remind yourself that no particular outcome is required in inner work. Whatever experience you can be meaningful and have value.
- Be a little open to the unknown. Be a little not-knowing. Inner work is not about confirming or proving anything, it is about discovery.