Progress from the Inside-Out (#876)

With a slight sigh of regret and an equally slight sigh of relief, today marks the end of my “European tour”. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve spoken about the Three Principles in front of 400+ people in London, spent five days coaching personal clients face to face, co-taught 80 people in Glasgow how to “wake up” to a deeper reality, done a number of press interviews about the inside-out understanding, and spent three days leading a beautiful “Learning How to Thrive” retreat in the Umbrian hills.

One of the questions which came up a number of times in a number of different ways from students, clients, and practitioners was “If I’m living in the experience of my thinking, not the experience of the outside world, how do I know if I’m making progress?”

While on the one hand, I’m not aware of any official benchmarks for “progress” on the pathless path, it did occur to me that there are a few markers and touchstones that I’ve found to be reliably helpful with my clients and on my own journey through the world of Mind, Consciousness, and Thought:

1. Is it more fun being you?

I was speaking about this with Cheryl Bond, a Principles-based practitioner with years of experience in the corporate world, and she mentioned that one of the questions she had learned to ask people who were wondering if they were really getting anything of value from what they were learning was “Is it more fun being you?”

If it is, chances are you’re letting go of old thinking and spending more time in the flow of your well-being; if not, chances are the Principles have become one more set of things to think about and one more set of rules to be followed.

For myself, I notice that my honest answer to the question “how are you?” has become fairly consistently “Wonderful!” Not “Wonderful, because…” or even “Wonderful, in spite of…”, but simply wonderful.

My life continues to have it’s ups and downs as do my feeling states, yet none of that seems to impinge on my essential wonder-filled experience of being alive.  And paying attention to that fact seems to matter at a very deep level of experience.  As I used to say in my coaching brochures “Wouldn’t it be a shame to have a wonderful life and not notice?”

2. Gratitude and grace

During a coaching session this morning, my client commented that she’d been experiencing more “gratitude and grace” in her life. She was feeling extremely grateful for all the good in her life; she was also finding herself more able to handle life’s bumps and bruises more gracefully.

This resonated with me as someone who had spent years caught up in the superstitious thought that feeling grateful made me somehow more vulnerable to loss, as if the very act of appreciation would call attention to the gods and that which I loved would be taken away from me.

These days, as best I can tell, the “gods” don’t seem to have an opinion about how much I love and appreciate my life and everything in it. And seeing that the only thing I am ever “vulnerable” to are my own insecure or fearful thoughts has allowed me to love more fully and step out into the world with more confidence and grace than ever before.

3. Coming home

Over the past few days, I’ve been using the metaphor of “coming home” to point towards a space that seems to open up inside us as our minds get quieter and our thoughts begin to flow more freely. In The Inside-Out Revolution, I describe the experience of coming home like this:

We all have within us a deeper essence that’s untouched by conditioning and circumstances. We could call this part of us, the light within, or the inner flame and it’s the source of our fundamental sense of inspiration, crackle, and aliveness. Some of my clients have called it their “twinkle”, the spark of life inside them that appears as a twinkle in the eye on the outside.This inner glow is made of pure Consciousness, but when we get caught up in the dream of thought, we get cut off from it. Most of us don’t notice this disconnection at first, except as a vague sense of something not being quite right. Work just isn’t as fulfilling as it once was, our partner isn’t quite as handsome or beautiful or loving as we thought they were, and don’t even get us started on what might be wrong with us?

Because we’ve been conditioned from birth to believe in the myth of an outside-in world, we assume the path back to well-being and joy and peace of mind must be through getting a better job or a better partner or working on becoming a better person. The irony is that the harder we work on changing ourselves in order to change the way we feel, the more distant we become from our true self, and the more important it seems to work on all those things, and the more lost we become.

So, regardless of what “problem” we think we have, our only real problem is feeling cut off from our innate wisdom and well-being. And the moment we reconnect to that source energy, our problems stop being so problematic and we move into a new reality.

When we “come home” to our innate wisdom and well-being, our experience of life gets easier. Instead of trudging downstream barefoot on a rocky riverbed with a boat balanced precariously on our head, we allow the river of life to flow, hop into the boat, and enjoy the ride.  We don’t even need to wait to see where that river will take us.  Because the moment we get on board, we’re already home.

So what does this all mean?

Simply that “progress from the inside-out” can’t be measured by achieving some kind of external goal or scoring ourselves higher on each category of the wheel of life.  It’s about spending more time in our well-being, moving gracefully and gratefully through life, and  increasing the depth, purity, and duration of our connection with our essential self.

Have fun, learn heaps, and happy exploring!

With all my love,
Michael

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