When this email arrives in your inbox, I will be packing up my sleeping bag, preparing breakfast and getting ready for my second day on the trail. My phone will be turned off and left at home for the entire weekend and my eyes will be taking a break from focusing on a computer screen.
Evie, my inner efficiency/taskmaster voice is not happy that I am going to abandon the ship of productivity, to go on an overnight backpacking trip. She sees all the tasks needing to be done (videos filmed, emails written, spreadsheets completed, social media attended to) and throws a fit. In the Vitality Circle, we have been exploring our Inner Council over this Spring Season. The Inner Council is made up of all the characters/voices who feel a need to have a say when you make a decision, take any action, or think a thought. They are the voices in your head. We all have them, and it doesn't mean we are crazy.
I invite you to try a simple exercise: Imagine there's a table in your head. Depending on what feels best to you, this could be a homey round breakfast table, or a long mahogany boardroom table. Sitting in the chairs are your very own council members who stand up at any given moment to think and speak for you. All the voices are valid, and have a place at the table, but some tend to speak out of turn, especially in times of stress or exhaustion. Most of us believe that the thoughts we think are the TRUTH, until we start noticing that we have options in our thoughts and reactions; different voices that offer a variety of perspectives that we can tune into at any given moment. When we acknowledge our power to decide, we move from feeling burdened by the opinions of certain inner council members that we have unknowingly empowered with a megaphone, to asking other members to step forward and be heard. This process has the potential to create deep inner peace. On the yogic path, the 5 Niyama (personal practices to evolve our internal awareness) guide us to a deeper integrity. Soucha: purity (clean your inner slate, practice integrity) Santosha: contentment (be accepting of what is) Tapas: self discipline, training the senses (commit to what is important) Svadhyaya: the practice of self-study, inner exploration (be a student of your own experience) Ishvara Pranidhana: surrender (know when to let things go) It is easy in our world of constant distractions to be drawn to study everything else but the self, the external vs. the internal. Yet, only in living in our deepest integrity, seeing clearly and knowing ourselves with all our senses, can we really make use of all the other knowledge we acquire with our minds. In order to practice the Niyamas, regular meditation and mindful movement practices are key. Having greater lengths of time without forced continuous external focus or navigating distractions is a gift for the nervous system. We get to turn off the external focus, pause, refill the inner cup of abundance, regain balance, and return to the daily tasks with new perspective. During this time of awareness, be it sitting still or on a quiet walk, get to know the members of your inner council. They are your family, and even the jerks will politely sit down if asked. This practice of inner work can ultimately calm your mind and allow you to use a deeper intuition when making decisions. Eventually it becomes second nature as those council members who have taken a back seat for so long are more frequently allowed to "speak their mind" and share the wisdom that resides within you. Deciding to go backpacking this weekend was a conscious decision to let Evie take a break and instead listen to Gaia, the nature lover. Deep down I know that 24 hours offline, a night sleeping on the ground, time away from home with my sweetie, and walking for 2 days will do way more good than the inner conflict that gets created when I let Evie steer my ship for too long. I am listening to Gaia this weekend, knowing that turning off for a little while will nourish my soul and and allow me to return to my work next week with new energy and insight! I invite you to get to know your Inner Council too. Who do you listen to the most? How could changing up who takes center stage bring more peace or ease to your daily experience? How do you balance out "being off and on" in your life?