Trusting your Journey
Once the search is in progress,
Something will be found.
- Oblique Strategies
It takes courage to embark on an inner exploration when you feel unhappy, depressed or unsatisfied with your life. There is the temptation, and you may have tried these "solutions," to more actively distract yourself, attempting to find happiness or meaning in more activity, travel, substances, sex, dating, or purchases. All of these activities in and of themselves are enjoyable and not in themselves harmful; however when they are used to fill up a void they will inevitably leave you feeling empty and/or become compulsions over time.
Many years ago Ram Dass said "wherever you go, there you are." Basically, you can run but not hide from yourself! Ultimately you may be called to begin an inner journey or exploration, to begin the search with no clear path to follow and only a hazy idea of what you hope to find and of what you may actually find.
I sometimes think of it as setting out in the jungle with a machete, having to make a path out of seeming no path, following your gut, your instinct about which direction to go in. It is a practice of trust or faith, that if you enter your inner world there will be signposts and guidance from within if you listen carefully. If you initiate the search and are curious and interested, you will definitely find something or some things: there may be painful feelings that were buried or semi-buried and there will also likely be treasure that you buried to protect or keep safe in the distant past.
To begin simply take the first step, begin the search. This can take many forms from journaling, reading, spiritual work, psychotherapy, self-help groups. The most important thing is to do something, to begin somehwere and trust that something of value will be found!
The Gifts of Silence
All profound things
and emotions of things
are preceded and attended in silence.
We live in a loud and noisy world. If you live in a city you constantly hear traffic, people, airplanes, ambulances/fire trucks, and music on car stereos. In addition, many people listen to music or podcasts while commuting or exercising. and have music, news or TVs on while at home, also spending time watching all kinds of videos. When external sounds are minimal our minds will often pick up the slack with runaway thoughts and mental scenarios.
Some people are very sensitive to sound and make space for quiet or silence. Yet a majority of people find silence uncomfortable, preferring the distractions of multiple forms of entertainment and information most of the time.
This week I came across an interesting article on Twitter titled Science says Silence is Much More Important to our Brains than we Think, by Rebecca Beris at www.lifehack.org. Research confirms that our brains need silence to not only regenerate physically but also to process and internalize information, conncect to ourselves and the world, and to reduce stress and tension. The research shows that silence is even better for these brain tasks than soothing music or sounds.
Might it be time to begin spending some time in silence, exploring your comfort ( or discomfort) with silence?
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley