Saturday, October 8, 2011

Inside Out

I have a theory.  

Our lives as individuals can be described as taking place inside a series of three concentric circles, which touch or converge with others' circles to a greater or lesser degree.  

I say three, because I believe the human being to be composed of three components: spirit (or heart, or centre), mind (or soul, if you like), and body.  In a healthy and whole human being, the life force flows from the inside toward the outside, and messages from the outside can pass from there to the inside, and be accepted or rejected depending on whether the message is good for the individual or not.  

That's in a healthy individual, for the inner barriers are distinct but semi-permeable in one who is healthy.

At the risk of belabouring the obvious, the body is the physical realm - the part that gets hungry, tired, craves physical touch, and so forth.  It includes the physical heart that beats, the physical brain with the neural impulses.

The mind (or soul) is that part that reasons, that justifies, that thinks things through.  It is where the intelligence of a person resides. 

The spirit (or heart) is the centre of the will and the emotions.  It is the part that is beyond the understanding, beyond intelligence. It is the core of who we are and the part we refer to as 'deep down.'  Deep down we are all the same.  This is the part where - when we have a relationship with God - He comes to live.  If He's not there, we try to fill it with other things - relationships, mood-altering substances, habits that make us "feel" or "stop feeling."  It is where addiction is born.  It is the most vulnerable part of us.

The whole of the three parts is somewhat like an egg - there is a distinction between shell, white and yolk, but they interact between themselves and with other outside elements. (Yes, certain things - like air and water - can pass through the shell: it's how chicks can breathe inside the shell before they hatch, for one thing - [source:] - and it's also why I always put a bit of salt in the water when I boil an egg.  Not only does it make the water more dense and the egg less likely to crack and extrude the white into the pot while cooking, it also lightly seasons the egg.  But I digress.  Again.  ;)

Back to the human entity.  When the barriers between spirit, soul and body are not semi-permeable or interactive, when there is a barrier built up between them, spirit, soul and body are unable to interact with each other.  People then become hardened, unable to either feel or (if they can feel) to express their emotions appropriately.  They may become insensitive and roll right over top of other people with no regard for others' feelings, they may try to hide from their feelings and do something (anything) to numb them, or they may isolate themselves from people because there is no common emotional frame of reference, no way to relate to the other person.  Sometimes the opposite is true - the barriers are so fragile that the least touch will shatter or burst through the layers. Then they lose the integrity of their selves altogether and just become quivering piles of mush, a tangled mix of emotion and reasoning, way too vulnerable and either too afraid to interact with others or embracing them to the point of becoming engulfed by them and losing their identities in the process.  

The process of inner healing, of recovery from that kind of unbalanced inner life, involves identifying those places, those experiences in our lives where the barriers have become too softened or too hardened (as the case may be) - and rebuilding the psyche.  

So much for the theoretical.  Now for the practical! 

Some say that the answer is to forget about the self altogether and focus on other people.  While this has its place, I believe it's premature to just plunge into a life of serving others before dealing with the whys and wherefores of the current inner state of affairs.  All that premature service might end up doing is messing up other people's inner balance with our own dysfunction.  Helping others from a place of wholeness is always preferable.  It helps them not to be distracted from their own process by our "stuff," and it keeps us from being sucked into their process and fall back into our own imbalance. 

Yet so few are even willing to admit to themselves that there is an imbalance.  The biggest step in healing of the inner life is getting to the place of that simple confession we must make to our own selves and to God, "I can't do this; I need help."  

That is the threshold to a life of honesty with the self, to a life lived from the "inside out."

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