04/08/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Inner Life; A Social Responsibility

Inner Life, A Social Responsibility

I have had many friends and relatives tell me that this internal journey of mine is completely narcissistic and in some ways I agree. But it is not only that. When I first started this inquiry many years ago I was totally motivated by my desire to stop living with an internal pain; this meaninglessness and self dislike. I was tired of making all the same mistakes over and over. I felt like I needed to understand where these things came from so that I could do something about them. It felt imperative. I felt desperate. And I did get lost in it, for years! I was constantly processing my personal history, blaming others for my situation, but somehow I popped out the other side and began to see this inquiry as my social responsibility.

A healthy, more balanced me is part of what I can contribute to the whole. I feel that if I don't really understand what motivates me, what I am afraid of, how my personality plays games to get what I want, how I manipulate situations and people, then I have no clue about what is really running me and cannot take full responsibility for my behavior. I would just go along being reactive, reactive, reactive (yes that is 3 reactives because I was really reactive) to outer circumstances instead of making conscious choices, instead of acting from a more calm and clear place inside.

Only recently I have been successful in quieting my mind so I can hear something below the everyday chatter and demands. This deeper voice I reference seems to be more connected to the health of the whole and preserving relationships and community. I don't always get what I want (and I certainly do not always understand), but somehow the appropriate thing happens if I allow it. I feel this internal-referencing guides me through sticky situations around ethics and values versus my own desires. Through this process it seems that I am claiming a certain inner strength and dignity that will help me stand for what I think is just and guide me through the sometimes treacherous and confusing rivers of life.

My activist friends might say, an inner journey does not really effect change in the world and what is needed now is change. And I would say -- how do you know? After all this inner work I finally have a good, real and honest relationship with my mother! (Right mom?) I approach things less from fear and see things more as they are, not what I want them to be. Maybe just by living something in a more conscious way, others are affected. I know that I am impacted by being around someone who is calm, joyful ... or angry. This is what I think the great spiritual teachers do. They embody something we are striving for; just by being around them you can have an experience of some other way of being. On another level I believe this is what a role-model does, they show you a path of possibility, by living it.

I am not saying, only have an inner life. I am saying that it is part of being a healthy person and believe that only from this more balanced place, can one truly give. Wasn't it Gandhi who said "Be the change you want to see in the world?" Well, I think this is almost a completely internal process, until it isn't.