Learn to listen to our own Inner Self
It guides us especially through a difficult phase of life
The existence of the Inner Self or Soul has long been a point of philosophical discussion, perhaps even in pre-historic times. In the absence of any scientific evidence, there has been merely speculation, like when we think about “life afterlife.” Many say there is nothing even faintly like an inner self or soul; it’s just a product of our imagination.
In Hinduism, there is a widespread belief in the Law of Karma, which says whatever happens to any person is the result of his/her past and present thoughts, words, and deeds. Birth after birth and death after death, the cycle of cause and effect continues.
The theory of reincarnation and the Law of Karma both need the existence of a discrete soul. It’s also believed that we generally miss its presence as we all are completely preoccupied with the material world.
Many of the renowned scientists and thinkers feel that consciousness never dies, it can’t be destroyed. So, after death, the consciousness of a person will ascend to another realm. Near-death experiences (NDEs) point out the same hypothesis.
There are examples, in thousands, where the people have gained consciousness after declaring them dead. Some believe that it may be possible that consciousness to be an of yet undiscovered scientific entity which may not necessarily be produced by synaptic activity in the brain. The scientific community still has to unravel the mystery of consciousness and what happens after death. If we observe our mind closely, we realize that it operates at two levels; hence, there are two entities within our head. On the outer level, we have what Buddha called the monkey mind or the thinking mind.
It’s an ego-driven mind. It is mostly restless, dissatisfied, indecisive, and busy as it can be (“busy as a bee”) in resolving conflicts, whether small or large, and immersed in thoughts relating to I, Me, and Mine. Then we find we have a deeper layer of mind that is the “observing mind,” or inner mind. Suppose we are disturbed and experience a stream of negative thoughts pouring into our thinking mind. Sometimes we notice this clearly, calmly acknowledging,
“Oh! I am disturbed by such and such.”
It means there is a part of the mind that’s observing the thinking mind if we pay attention to it. However, the problem is that our thinking mind is usually so busy (and loud) in processing fast-changing data from the surrounding world that we overlook our inner mind, the observing/witnessing mind. The thinking mind/ego-driven self and the Inner Self operate simultaneously and parallel in the mind. As we are totally identified with the thoughts that are appearing and disappearing in our consciousness, our whole spectrum of mental space is engaged.
We hardly notice and involve our Inner Self. When the thinking mind dominates, we spend most of our time with partial awareness of our surroundings. In those moments we are hardly aware of the Inner Self. Emotions, thoughts, and our selfhood intermingle, with no separation between them.
On the other hand, our Inner Self is above and beyond personal identity, the ego aspect of “me.” Inner Self is thought to be connected to the Divine Presence and Power, the Source, God (or whatever Supreme Being we choose to believe in). Our inner self is rooted in love. Choices made from this part of the mind are always in our best interest, and for the good of everyone around us.
In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context, it refers to the examination of one’s Inner Self. It is closely related to self-reflection. Journeying inward, we can learn about our thinking and behavior patterns through the Inner Self/observing mind. Becoming the conscious observer of this inner voice can be a game-changer. So, the greatest gift we can give to ourselves is a growing sense of self-awareness. The realization that there is an observer of the incessant chatter in our minds can be the liberating and empowering discovery of our life. By doing so, we get to observe the mind and its thoughts, that are coming in and out of our awareness.
When we ask people in general, whether they are self-aware, the answer would, as expected, be positive. However, you will be surprised to know that majority of us are hardly self-aware.
We have, invariably, very little self-awareness, though we are confident of possessing the same. To be self-aware is a meta-skill, and limited, often rarely, to find in ourselves. Had we been more self-aware and mindful, we would have been living far more peacefully and co-existing amicably with fellow beings.
According to the organizational psychologist and researcher, Dr. Tash Eurich, though 95% of people say that they’re self-aware only 10-15% of people actually are. It means nearly 80% of people are lying to themselves. Their level of self-awareness differs from person to person, from highly ignorant to partially self-aware.
In many cases, others know more about a person more than the person knows about himself. Such persons are so self-absorbed and self-centered in their own little world that they are least self-aware and don’t really know about themselves well. Unfortunately, no one teaches us about this skill. The majority of us are ignorant of what self-awareness is and why it’s so important for us to succeed in life?
To develop self-awareness, we need to be mindful, conscious, and awake to the fullest possible extent. For that, we must learn to inculcate the habit of mindfulness. It’s the ability to stay in present. What happens mostly is that we are on automatic mode.
Our unconscious mind is at work. When we are not mindful, we become reactive, impulsive, and habitual. Our thoughts, actions, and behavior are on autopilot. We don’t use our conscious minds. One of the basic problems pertaining to the modern age like mental stress, aggression, intolerance, violence, hatred, etc is a lack of mindfulness among the masses. To become mindful and self-aware, we are required to practice mindfulness-based meditation. Through meditation, we can go deeper into our mind, inner self.
During difficult periods of life, it’s only the Inner Self that can truly help us. It’s our inner voice, from our heart, and not from the egoic mind. Our Inner Self is always in sync with our best interests.
Since most of the time we don’t hear our inner voice due to the cacophony of the materialistic world, there is no one to guide us. People often advise their disturbed friends to “Listen to your own inner voice.” Fred Alan Wolf, an American theoretical physicist, and world-renowned spiritual writer said that
“Humanity needs to listen until such time as the voice of inner self or the soul is heard throughout the universe as the only voice of love and compassion that has ever existed.”
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