Inner work is about placing your awareness within yourself. It helps you stay connected to the different parts of your body/being and its consciousness. It helps you connect to the core of who you are. It helps you stay in your natural home.
Stay in this home as you go about your life interacting with the world outside. It will help you stay centered. The more you can do this, the more you will act with clarity, strength and calmness. The more you come from this “inner work – life balance” every moment, the more you will experience joy.
“The path doesn’t save all its pleasure for the end. You can enjoy it now.” – Thanissaro Bhikku
If you try to find joy only in the result, you get robbed of the countless moments of joy that are possible along the way. You may think of the time spent on the path as something that has to be endured or suffered to reach that outcome.
The joy is in the effort.
“It is the effort which gives joy; a human being who does not know how to make an effort will never find joy. Those who are essentially lazy will never find joy — they do not have the strength to be joyful! It is effort which gives joy. Effort makes the being vibrate at a certain degree of tension which makes it possible for you to feel the joy.
It is only effort, in whatever domain it be – material effort, moral effort, intellectual effort – which creates in the being certain vibrations which enable you to get connected with universal vibrations; and it is this which gives joy. It is effort which pulls you out of inertia; it is effort which makes you receptive to the universal forces.” – The Mother
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, even a chore like dish washing can be joyful and therapeutic.
“Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end – that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes and live fully each moment while washing them.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“I have known such people, who were capable of making the necessary effort (not a prudent and calculated effort but a spontaneous one) in no matter what field: material, vital, intellectual, etc., and in this effort there was always joy. For example, a man sits down to write a book, he makes an effort which sets vibrating something in his brain to attract ideas; well, suddenly, this man experiences joy. It is quite certain that, whatever you do, even the most material work, like sweeping a room or cooking, if you make the necessary effort to do this work to the maximum of your ability, you will feel joy, even if what you do is against your nature. When you want to realize something, you make quite spontaneously the necessary effort; this concentrates your energies on the thing to be realized and that gives a meaning to your life. This compels you to a sort of organisation of yourself, a sort of concentration of your energies, because it is this that you wish to do and not fifty other things which contradict it. And it is in this concentration, this intensity of the will, that lies the origin of joy. This gives you the power to receive energies in exchange for those you spend.” – The Mother
So, what appeals to you more? The pursuit of something or the achievement of the end result? What are some ways you can find joy along the way?
Have you ever had moments in your life where doing something gave you a lot of calm joy? Where the sense of space and time seemed to disappear? And you seemed to be your most authentic self?
Welcome to being in the zone!
Is it possible for me to access this state very often?
To answer this, we must understand what makes us be in the zone in the first place.
“We are made up of different parts which have to be unified around the psychic being, if we are conscious of it, or at least around the central aspiration. If this unification is not done, we carry this division within us. To do this, each thought, each feeling, each sensation, each impulse, each reaction, as it manifests, must be presented in the consciousness to the central being or its aspiration. What is in accord is accepted; what is not in accord is refused, rejected or transformed. It is a long endeavor and may take years – but once it is done, the unification is achieved and the path becomes easy and swift.” – The Mother
Within us, there seem to be many forces seemingly at conflict and what we do, say, think, feel, sense etc. often seem disparate as though coming from multiple personalities within us. But behind all that we do in our life, there seems to be a central aspiration coming from deep within, from what can be termed as our core. This core is our natural state of being or our inmost presence.
Whenever we connect to this core, to the aspiration or essence that is trying to emerge, we are filled with life. Different aspects of our life get harmonized and our life becomes much more enjoyable. It seems as though we have got a direction to our life, the purpose of our existence. We are in the zone whenever we are able to do this.
Try to articulate your core, your aspiration. You can write it using words, draw it or express it in any other way that you feel comfortable with.
How to I get back if I fall out of the zone?
Firstly, you have to recognize that you have fallen out of the zone. This can be done, for example, by accessing the feelings when you go off-balance. Some people may immediately notice the lack of joy or the lack of connection. Some people may feel uneasy. Use this as the signal to find out you are moving out of your zone.
Once you spot the signal, learn to get back in. Invoke and connect to the central aspiration directly or to your articulation of the same in forms that you are comfortable with. You could do this as many number of times as possible during the day so that you continue to be in the zone!