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External and Internal Me

What is me? There seems to be an internal me, made up of my experiences. I am aware of the internal me through my emotions, feelings, senses and freethinking. I also am conscious of an external me. This is created from the image I project, my identity, the way I react to external events and my work.

When I am more engaged in the internal me, I find it easier to live my life as it happens. The further I get into the internal me the less I am aware of the external. There are times when I can feel so deeply engaged in the moment that little else exists.

At other times I am living in the external world. I am conscious of money, people, situations, work, the environment and material objects. I find this world interesting, engaging and exciting. At the same time it can distract me into all kinds of illusions and constructs.

Over the years I have tried to be more aware of the external and internal me. I have been through a phase where I would aim to spend more time internally. Now I realise I enjoy the freedom to move between the two. I have been addicted to aspects of the external world, whether with foods, politics, causes, television and intellectual discussions. I have lost the inner me in gossip, dramas and arguments.

I notice that if I manage to spend more time with the inner me, the way I perceive my external world changes. My inner experiences seem to shape the way I relate to everything else. Perhaps the way I present myself externally is reflection of how I connect to myself internally.

Thinking in terms of the inner and external will not exist in the inner self, but if we use this model for a moment, how can we explore our outer self? I find it interesting to be aware of the identity I have constructed around me. My children, lovers, clothes, cars, home, music, art, literature, spirituality, food choices, movements, nationality, culture and subjects combine to create an energy field that surrounds me. How attached am I to them? Do I need to take them with me wherever I go? Is it possible that the more entrenched in these external identities I become, the more diffused my connection with the world I inhabit becomes? Do I have one identity or many that change, depending who I am with? Could it be that a constructed field around me distances me from other people? What kind of connections would I experience then?

There is the possibility that the external me is made up of traits that I have absorbed from others. Parents, school, relationships, work and friendships may have contributed to an external me that is not really the me I would now choose. If I let go of the external would I find it easier to let the authentic, inner me shine through? Would I experience a transformation in my self?

When I feel more connected to my inner self I can return to a generally happy, contented, loving state and feel present to myself without distractions. Perhaps one of the joys of this state is the contrast to being absorbed in the external. It may be that by swaying between the two, my life becomes most interesting. To be free to swing between the external and internal me, I need to be able to have the trust and confidence to let go of the external for a while. I know I can always come back to it.

How attached are you to the way you define yourself, whether through religion, diets, wealth, style, ideologies, spirituality or material objects? Does that carefully constructed external you follow you around whether you like it or not?

In my journey so far, developing the internal me through meditation, mindfulness, living through my senses and awareness has made it easier to step out of the external me for a while.

Copyright Simon Brown, London, 2011