As Thomas Merton stated, “There is and can be no special planned technique for discovering and awakening one’s inner self, because the inner self is first of all a spontaneity that is nothing if not free.”
Indeed. The unconscious communicates with us through dreams, spontaneous images or day fantasies, slips of the tongue, body symptoms and gestures, and other unplanned events. All we can do is slow down and become more mindful of these ‘messages’ when they do arise.
We can go to sleep with the intent of remembering our dreams, with paper and pen nearby. Take those Freudian slips seriously, pondering their deeper meaning. Notice in what situations your energy waxes and wanes.
The use of music can bring one to a very deep place. Listen to crystal bowls, chimes and sounds of nature with the approach of letting the energy from the sounds go where it wants to in your body (chakras). Similarly, playing music and allowing your body to move as it wishes, either dancelike or while lying and moving comfortably on the floor, is another way of connecting with your body and feelings.
The use of humour can also be very healing and good for the soul. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins that elevate mood, decrease stress, help lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, and decrease pain. As Groucho Marx stated, “A clown is like an aspirin, only he works twice as fast.”
Humour also evokes trickster energy, showing us the absurdity in life, perhaps helping us clarify how we give meaning to life. Some readers’ suggestions included the works of George Carlin and laughter yoga.
The practice of meditation invites one to still the mind, put ego aside and allows for both a deepening into ourselves and an opening up to what may arise while meditating. Suggestions included meditation that focuses on the heart and asks one to sit with the thought that there is a “divinity” or love or compassion in the heart.
Whether creating or viewing art, artwork often evokes unconscious feelings, memories, associations and ideas. Strolling through artists’ studios and art galleries provides an opportunity to view new ways of arranging form and colour. We can tap into our creativity through art classes, writing workshops or self-guiding instructional books.
As Merton further explained, “The contemplative life must provide an area, a space of liberty, of silence, in which possibilities are allowed to surface and new choices – beyond routine choice – become manifest.”
Summer can be a time to challenge our ‘routine choices.’ By challenging ourselves to try new situations, and even face some fears, we ask ego to place its discomfort and need for knowing outcomes aside. Take time to ponder your ‘usual’ way. What else could you eat, wear, read, view or do? Where else could you visit? What have you always wanted to try?
Many of the above suggestions for creating opportunities for better listening to your inner self have been submitted by readers. Thank you for your ideas.