I cannot broadly define what an Internal Experience is. Going inward and connecting to your core can be anything from profound and cathartic to deeply disturbing. What I do know, however, is that avoiding your internal reality does have consequences.
Not too long ago, I was innocently sitting in an airplane minding my own business when the man directly in front turned around to me. “Yes?” I said politely leaning forward with an open smile. “Stop. Pushing. My. Seat.” he said in an offended tone. I felt confusion cloud my face and glanced at my legs and feet; they were nowhere near his seat. He continued to stare me down with vicious hostility. All I could do was stutter, “I…I wasn’t even touching your seat.” He snorted, as if I was the biggest liar he’d ever met. He leaned towards me and repeated his demand with more aggression. Woah, I thought, how do I stop doing something that I wasn’t even doing in the first place? Momentarily, I felt bad for his wife and kid sitting next to him; he was clearly ready for a nasty fight. He was just as clearly looking for a space to get some burdensome explosive feelings of his chest. Although unpleasant, being at the receiving end of this man’s aggression reminded me of something: my own need to find a place of expression for my pent-up stuff. Like Carl Jung said, “What You Resist Persists.” If I ignore my emotions, they will not only accumulate and clog my pipes, they will find an outlet. The man seated in front of me, for example, was not just traveling on the airplane, he was on a journey of his own. In truth, he was angry, very angry, but he had not expressed his anger to the right person at the right time. Instead he let it spill onto me, an innocent stranger.
I’m sure each of us can think of someone in our life who is passive-aggressive or who reacts in ways we can’t understand. I’m also sure that each of us can think of an instance (or many) in our own lives where we “over-reacted.” This kind of acting out or over-reacting point towards untended internal business. Ironically though, emotional explosions point to the richness and emotional depth available to us but that we often avoid.
Usually, it’s exactly when we need to turn inward that we seek external distractions. It’s so tempting and easy to surrender to the external world: movies, talking, facebook, eating, friends, arguments – the list is endless. What I’ve experienced, however, is that the more I engage in external things, the less connected I feel to myself. When I’m in that hyperactive external “Doing” mode, my sense of reality and my sense of self becomes warped. The feedback I recieve from the world completely clashes with my own perception of what’s happening. For example, someone will say, “You seem really confidant and strong.” But my heart is pounding so fast in my chest I’m surprised my eyeballs aren’t vibrating. Turning inwards is crucial for me; I feel like I’m constantly processing new information, growing, changing, opening, closing. At my core, I experience a peaceful chaos. When I’m connected to myself, I’m peaceful; when distracted too long, chaos ensues.
If I try to locate where all this inner activity is taking place, where my core is, I actually can’t. You can sit completely immobile, for instance, yet be intensely active in your mind. Where is that mind-action taking place? The closest I’ve come to an answer is in the concept that our bodies have different layers: the body is one layer, the mind another. Both are equally palpable and real, depending on how in-tune you are. I was intrigued to read more about this in Carolyn Myss’s book The Anatomy of Spirit. Here she discusses in detail the energy fields in our bodies, creating a striking synthesis between Christian, Jewish, and Vedic paradigms. In essence, we are more than 3D; we are comprised of complex intertwined layers of being that work together and separately to inform or sometimes confuse us about who we are and what we feel.
As much as we’d like to label the aggressive man on the plane a jerk, I’m quite certain each of us has a version of him within ourselves. What we ignore does not go away. But when are we consciously seeking contact with the emotional being that is right there under the surface of our skin? Having regular contact with ourselves, allowing ourselves to have an Internal Experience, will not only stave of an impending explosion, it will also make you feel more vibrant and alive.