Inner Life, Inner Authority
The Journey In (Not Up) conference with Larry Maze last weekend was amazing! Larry talked about lots of meaty and meaningful things having to do with what we’ve been calling the Inner Life. Being the former (now retired) Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, Larry’s talk referenced Christian theology, imagery and scripture, but in such a way that was accessible to anyone.
So what do we mean by the Inner Life? Here’s what I took away from Larry’s talks: We, in Western culture, have a bias (invisible to us, as most biases are) toward the extroverted and the external. We come into this world with a true inner authority about what we like and what we need to survive. Look no further than the average two-year-old for evidence. However, we also must learn to live together so it was our parents’ duty and the duty of society at large to “civilize” the two-year-old inner authority out of us. This is the source of our reliance on external authorities: parents, institutions, the Church, the loud talking heads on television. We are also rewarded for extraversion. The more “personality” and ability to perform we can manage, the more we are rewarded – in school and in the workplace. Add to that our tendency to numb ourselves with alcohol, drugs, TV, all kinds of compulsive behaviors that give us reprieve from that constant low-level anxiety…..it’s a wonder we ever have a clue what’s going on inside us, in our souls. And yet, that is exactly where we must go – to a quiet place within – to begin to build our own inner authority again.
How? Inner work begins with daily prayer/meditation/contemplation, journaling, and of course, dreamwork. Dreams will tell you the truth about your self and your situation. Another thing to do, an assignment I often give my clients is to write their own personal creed. What do you believe in? I believe in doing my best at all times, being fair, being compassionate….I also believe in using real butter, not margarine, hand written thank you notes, loyalty to those I love. I believe no one is responsible for my happiness but me. Here’s a new one that I heard from Larry’s talk that I have added to my creed: God will not do my work for me.
Try it – what do you believe in? What do you know is true? Are you living what you believe?