Transform your life’s journey through Inner Governance
Socrates (470-399 BC) the classical Greek philosopher once famously said: ‘Know thyself’. One of the founders of Western philosophy elaborates further that the unexplained life is not worth living. It holds true even today when we are hammered into the world of excessive exposure to glamour, blitz and social media.
In fact, in a world driven by material goods, comforts, glamour and social media, we have no time to look inside. We are busy people, whether we lead a repetitive and highly conditioned life; keep on doing the same things every day of life or struggling to do something new or creative things.
Some are trying to earn their livelihood and survive while others accumulating wealth and other material things for leading a happier life. Either way, they are engrossed in their own small but outside world. If we ask them how much they know about themselves. The answer with full confidence is ‘yes’ but are they saying it honestly.
Get to know yourself
The truth is that most of us don’t know ourselves. Do we know the darker side of our inner self? Everyone knows their positive side, considering themselves ‘better than others. We never attempt to go deeper into our ‘inner self’.
We don’t try to understand the inner working of our mind. We are largely ignorant. We all strive all the time to gain knowledge about others and the outside world. Since early childhood we have been taught like that. There has never been any focus, at any stage, on self-knowledge, which matters most in life.
Through knowing ourselves, we are automatically guided towards greater happiness, inner peace, and satisfaction. We can manage our thoughts and emotions with greater ease. Otherwise, among the most challenging tasks in life to manage and control our own thoughts. The outside world which we perceive and interact with is merely a reflection of our own inner world, the mind. The key to managing the world lies within the inner self.
Self-knowledge or ‘know yourself’ begins with self-inquiry. ‘Who am I’ should be the first question that should arise within us. With this there is another associated question is ‘what is the purpose and meaning of life. Once we start deliberating on these questions, many related issues will arise.
Once we are tempted to start exploring the answers, an inward journey starts. We should start seeing beyond the physical world we experience all the time. For example, we are, most of the time, completely identified with our minds. We don’t find any difference between ‘I’ and the thoughts that come and go all the time.
If we close our eyes and observe the mind carefully, we find space between the thoughts. As we spend more and more time observing our own mind and the thought process, then we become self-aware. As self-awareness grows, managing the mind becomes easier. Likewise, we should start paying attention to our own feelings, sensations and emotions, to start experiencing greater control on oneself.
According to Ramana Maharishi (879-1950), an Indian Sage and a proponent of Advaita Vedanta advocated self-inquiry as a path to self-realization. As we know most of time, our thoughts revolve around ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’.
For him, self-inquiry is the constant attention to the inner awareness of ‘I’ or ‘I am’. This is the most efficient and direct way of discovering the unreality of the “I”-thought. Ramana taught that the ‘I’-thought will disappear and only self-awareness remains. This results in an ‘effortless awareness of being’ and then gradually the frequency of ‘I’ thoughts start decreasing.
The time will eventually come, according to Ramana Maharishi, when the ‘I’-thought never rises again. This is what is known as Self-realization or liberation. The only way to make the mind cease its outward orientation is to turn inward.
Initially it’s a difficult exercise to do but with experience, less effort is needed as the mind is drawn to the peace that comes from focusing on inner self. The more time we spend inward, the more we realize our true nature and the better we feel. We more we go inward, happier and more contended we become.
We often search for happiness from material goods and other pleasurable things. Rather than becoming happy, we become more unsatisfied. Then we try harder for accumulating the same material things with the hope that we would become happier if we have more of them. In this way, happiness remains a distant dream. That’s why, we need to undertake inward journey for leading a happy and satisfactory life.
In our contemporary word, huge emphasis is given on our physique, beauty and looks. Therefore, people would love to spend money, energy and time to improve their looks. No doubt, physical health and our outer looks are very important but while pursuing this goal, most of us neglect the other far more crucial aspect of our health and wellbeing is our mind, the mental health.
Our mind can be strengthened by any strenuous physical exercise like running, gym or sports activities. For mental exercises, one needs to practice meditation and mindfulness. In the recent past, thousands of research papers have been documented which confirm the transformational changes that come with meditation. Even aging can be slowed down by taking care of mental stress to a great extent. People become happier and more peaceful when they practice meditation.
Meditation is nothing but a practice that leads us to undertake inner journey. When we meditate, we observe our mind and the stream of incessant thoughts that arise in mind, we become serene and quiet. Even under challenging and tough time, meditation gives us resilience to overcome that period. If we at peace with our mind and can manage our thoughts well, then we can surely become enlightened. Through meditation practice, we can significantly increase our level of self-awareness, which is an essential part of inner governance.
Self-awareness is the ability to focus on ourself and how our actions, thoughts, or emotions affect ourselves and others around us. Not only we should thoroughly know about ourselves but also know, how others perceive us. It’s about knowing how we behave under different circumstances. How we think, act and react in various situations of life? What kind of thoughts and feelings we are experiencing every moment? If we are self-aware, then we know all these things about ourselves. We are always very confident that we know all about ourselves but unfortunately that’s not the case. Our attention doesn’t go to this side. Isn’t it difficult to believe, that we are so ignorant about our own self? As self-awareness increases, we become more mindful. Not only we starting knowing ourselves more deeply and intimately but we also love more with our own self. Love, compassion and empathy towards others increases with inner journey. Life as a whole becomes more meaningful as our inner journey becomes deeper. Ultimately this is what we all need, a meaningful and purposeful existence.
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