What Does Having a Rich Inner Life Mean?

I read an interview with the actor, Nicole Kidman where she said she has a rich inner life and immediately that resonated with me. If she was having one, I wanted one too! Unbeknown to me I was already accessing my inner life through meditation and contemplation. But my journey of understanding how rich an inner life can be was just beginning.

Human beings have mastered the understanding of the outer life. The complex logistics and daily stresses, family obligations, phone calls, to-do lists, e-mails and responsibilities that fill our days. The outer life is what’s on the daily planner, iPhone or BlackBerry, it’s the doing of things.

But how do we deal with our emotions, self-awareness, our sense of clarity about values and purpose? These deeper inner aspects are mysterious and elusive. Our private thoughts and beliefs, our emotions, fantasies, spiritual or religious practices, the capacity to love, our sense of purpose. Our culture does little to acknowledge or nurture these aspects of our lives. Our inner life is hidden from others, sometimes from those closest to us, even from ourselves.

Meditation is a way to connect with this inner life. For me, my spirit and subconscious meet in friendly territory somehow in this safe place. In the practice of meditation, the burden of the outer life is lifted to experience a state of wellbeing. Access to the deeper parts of the mind and spirit is stimulated, those involving beauty, goodness, forgiveness and love. Taking the time to do this has a calming effect on both mind and body.

Nature is another way to connect with the inner life. Time spent in a rainforest, on a beach, in the mountains, on the water; wherever we feel our body has access to a sense of calm. This lays the active mind to rest, allowing the subconscious to connect thoughts, much as dreams do.

When I walk through a rainforest, I focus on the different colours, a hundred shades of green, the rich smell of the earth, I notice the shapes and sizes of the trees and the richness of the blue sky. This allows my inner life to breathe, rebooting the connections between mind, body and spirit.

Visualisation, daydreaming and imagining possibilities is a rich source for the inner life. Having pictures of a future desired state gives the inner world a compass, a way to access dreams and aspirations.

Having our own set personal boundaries influences the quality of our inner life. Boundaries solidify, ground and create a safe place in our internal and external life. No one needs to know about our personal boundaries. They are not something to be negotiated with others. Boundaries are not about recruiting other people to our viewpoint; someone being right and the other being wrong is not a boundary, they are about personal self-care.

To have effective boundaries our self-talk needs to reflect our values. Self-talk has a dynamic influence on the quality of our inner world. A boundary is set when we decide not to blame or shame another person in our internal dialogue. We automatically become more respectful and kind when we have strong internal boundaries.

A favourite connection to my inner world is through the night sky, the universe and galaxies. By turning out the lights to watch the moon, the stars and the planets. Lying on the ground looking up, absorbing this bigger space always takes me to a greater place in my dreaming and thinking. Join me and countless other artists, scientists, painters, builders, leaders, writers and dreamers who breathe in this unlimited space; just a breath away.