Under this Pisces full moon (conjunct my natal moon and South Node), I am feeling an “inner push” to write about a topic that is very dear to me. In fact, I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that it is (internally) the most important thing for me to communicate–in a way, the under-pinning of all of the work that I do–even though it’s the hardest to express in words(!) So, let’s begin, shall we? And dive into the inner world of “feeling” and “sensing”.
Introducing: Your Inner Experience
Underneath the surface of everything that you experience, there is another layer–an underlying internal barometer, if you will. This barometer knows how comfortable you feel in any given situation. It knows if you are sad, or sleepy. It knows if you are hungry. It knows if you should stay or go. It knows if you should speak or listen. . . It knows all kinds of things–one might even say: It knows whatever YOU need to know, right then.
You could call this barometer your intuition, and that would be partially accurate. The intuition is the instinctual knowing that arises from this part of you. And you can access that intuition whenever you need it, if you know how to listen to it.
But it goes beyond intuition. Intuition is just one way that this inner barometer expresses itself. . . But what about the contents of this inner world, itself? What do you know about this space? How comfortable are you there? Do you go there often–perhaps in your meditation? Perhaps in therapy, or in a shamanic journey? Perhaps in your creative work?. . . Do you forget about it in your everyday life? These are some questions that you might begin to ponder.
Developing Inner Feeling
Every person has different textures and shades to them–you could say dark and light, or different sides of their personalities. Every type of music makes you feel a different way. Every kind of food has a different flavor profile, and it evokes different responses in your body and in your psyche.
The world is made up of soooo many shades; it really is so complex, so rich and multi-faceted. To begin to develop the capacity of “inner feeling”, you must learn to pay attention to your internal response to external stimuli. You might think that you are already doing this, but most of the time, you are probably just reacting out of habit, in a half-numb state. Or in a state of blind, reactive tit-for-tat. (No judgement. We all do this, including me!) Maybe your mind has something to say about your experience. Maybe your emotions are stirred. But probably, even when that is the case, you’re making all kind of assumptions about what is happening and why. This is not inner feeling/sensing. This is just a blind, habitual way of being.
So. . . In order to access and develop my inner sensing/feeling capacities, I need to have curiosity. I need to pay attention. And, I need to learn to listen within. With enough practice, one can do this “listening within” practice anytime, on command–even in a crowded, busy social situation. But at first, it might help to slow down, and to practice in a safe and quiet environment (such as your meditation cushion, or bedroom, or in the park, etc.)
Aspects of Inner Feeling
You can practice inner feeling with sensory objects, or within your own body/emotions. These are good places to start. Sensory objects usually evoke less of a charged emotional response, but this varies, and depends on the sense that is being experienced (for example, smell is more evocative than sight, generally).
To practice in a sensory way, take a few minutes to focus on a particularly sense of your choice. For example, you could choosing hearing/listening. Then, you would take a few minutes to listen to all of the sounds within you and around you (both near and far). Or, perhaps you might choose taste. Then, you would take a few moments to savor and explore the particular taste profile (and textures) of a specific meal or piece of food.
Pure sensory exploration, in this way, does feed our inner world. And, it helps to quiet our minds and bring us into the present moment (creating a positive feedback loop, or trust ourselves and in our relationship to the world). This is a very powerful practice, in and of itself.
But, in addition to stopping to internally “feel” our sensory experiences, we can also take time to stop and “sense” our internal feelings. (Huh. You might want to read that sentence again. ;-)) In other words, there are emotional states, and body states (such as pain, tension, etc.) and mental states that occur within us, and move through us, all the time. Why not have curiousity about these things?
When we stop and pay attention to our own internal feelings and commentary, we learn a lot about ourselves. We learn whether or not we’ve been caring for ourselves (emotionally or physically). We learn whether we feel comfortable with ourselves. We learn whether we feel comfortable socially. And, if we DON’T feel good, then it’s good to know that. Because then, we have a choice. We can choose to have a conversation with someone (a friend, or a therapist, or someone from the group we’re visiting). We can choose to get more sleep. We can choose to spend time in a more nurturing environment. Knowledge is power, and self-knowledge gives us the power to make conscious choices and feel in harmony with ourselves–mind, body and soul.
Always more to learn
There’s sooooo much more than I could share about this practice of inner feeling (which informs ALL of the work that I do–as I can “sense” the subtle shades of a singing voice, or of an astrological archetype, or of an energetic blockage). But, now is not the time to unpack all of those specifics. . . Rather, for now, I want to leave you with an encouragement, and a challenge:
I’d like you to create a little bit of silent time in your day, every day–a time when you can practice this sacred art of awareness and “inner feeling”. Perhaps, you will spend that time in meditation, or in mindful eating. Perhaps you will spend it walking in the woods, or practicing your instrument. Whatever it is, have curiosity about it. Pay attention to the textures and shades that arise and fall, that fluctuate and flicker, in and out of your experience. And notice the part of you that is still, that is aware, no matter what your experience.
Secondly, I want you to begin to bring awareness to your habitual, emotional reactions. Notice, with empathy and detachment (without judgement), the mental stories that you spin out of and around your emotions. Notice how you interpret and jump to conclusions. Have curiosity (maybe try this attitude on for size: “Huh, that’s interesting that I’m thinking/assuming that. Is that so? Where might that thought have come from?”) Notice, also, the reactions that your BODY has, whenever your emotions get stirred. Do you clench your jaw? Get a headache? Feel jittery in the stomach?, etc. Lastly, ask yourself, “What do I really need right now? And–”What is one way in which I can support/nurture myself?”
These are two, basic practices that you can use to get started, to begin to acquaint yourself with the vast world of inner sensing/feeling. There are so many dimensions to this practice, and it does take a while to feel really grounded and secure in it. But, the benefits are immense:
Basically, the more we become AWARE of our inner world, the more in touch we are with ourselves, and with our environments. We feel more relaxed, and in tune, and thus, we are able to feel better, and to make better decisions–as well as more better connections, and more authentic expressions. The less we judge our experience, inward and out, and the more we become curious about it, the more we notice that our inner experience is valuable and trustworthy–and that we are worth being listened to. We ARE the source of our own wisdom. We need only to cease the churning outward search for confirmation–even if pausing for just a moment–and tune in, inside. Learn to listen, within.