We have used the term Camino with its associations to pilgrimage in order to highlight the depth of the journey within that we must travel to meet the fullness of who we are. One destination is to become ‘comfortable in our own skin’ with the ability to be still and present no matter what is going on in the world outside. To do this we address the issue of what we call our internal chatter, the constant stream of thoughts and mental activity that fills are minds.
When this chatter is kind and at peace, we tend to feel happier and more satisfied; when it is full of fear, self-criticism, or restlessness we tend to feel less content. Indeed, in moments of alone-ness our internal chatter becomes like a loud noise that takes away our peace.
Below are some questions to support beginning that inner journey
- Have you noticed what the quality of your ‘internal chatter’ is like? Is its voice like a benign and encouraging friend or does it sound unkind, putting you down and making you feel hopeless or unhappy in some way?
- If it is the unkind voice do you have ways to switch it off, or to switch channels into a more helpful and empowering voice?
You might like to try what we call our Nature Exercise below. This is one of the first steps to walking the Inner Camino. Developing the capacity of what we call dual awareness, a way to intentionally stop and step out of our more ordinary ways of seeing ourselves. From here a wiser and more compassionate part of us opens to the possibly of another way of seeing things.
Exercise to Work with Nature and Dual Awareness
Many of us go out into Nature to seek calmness and solitude. In addition we often get insights into our lives when we are out walking in Nature. With lockdown, and the aftermath of the pandemic, our access to the outdoors may be restricted. With that we are unable to do our normal methods of calming, regulating and finding our centre.
Below is a simple exercise to connect with that Nature experience from your living room.
- Pick a situation where your internal chatter becomes persistent, negative or disturbing in some way. Make a note on how it sounds and what is upsetting you most about it.
- Now switch your focus and imagine a place in nature that feels special to you. Reconnect to the atmosphere of this place and let the feeling of being there replace any residue from the disturbance of the earlier moment.
- Pick one aspect of nature from this scene that really stands out for you. It might be a tree, the water, the light. Allow yourself to connect deeply with this aspect. Take time to feel into exactly what its qualities are.
- Now become the energy or quality of the aspect you have chosen and imagine that you are in the special nature place. Experience what it is like to be there, a part of the whole scene, and notice how it changes your body, your state and your internal chatter?
- With the energy from that Nature state, look back at the original disturbing situation. In what ways does it seem different to you now as you shift into your Nature channel?
- What insight or advice do you have for yourself from this nature perspective about the disturbing situation and your internal chatter?
- In times of stress remember you always have the freedom to access this state. It will give you additional insights to a problem that you may not be able to deal with using your normal problem solving strategies.