Accessing and Nurturing Our Inner Life

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The demands of the external world frequently and successfully divert our attention from the world within. It takes considerable focus and commitment to seek and explore the wonders of that hidden world.

One of the most interesting discoveries astronomical scientists have made in the past few years is that despite the vast number of galaxies and other material objects now known to populate the physical universe, the vast majority of the material remnant of the “big bang” remains undetected. It seems there’s literally a whole universe out there we still haven’t discerned. Many psychologists, philosophers, mystics, and healers of various persuasions believe that the same is true for the realm of the human mind. They believe that despite the fact our conscious awareness of the external world has increased dramatically in recent times, the sum total of our awareness represents but a small fraction of the realities we’re capable of knowing. It seems an entire universe of sorts lies deep within the psyches of each and every one of us, just waiting to be uncovered, accessed, experienced, and appreciated.

What is the “inner” world? It’s the vast part of the human mind that for much of our waking hours remains unconscious to us. While our conscious minds allow us to be aware of and process information about the material world that surrounds us, our unconscious minds are storehouses of other information, archetypal images, and most especially, various forms of creative energy. Our inner world is a virtual universe of realities and possibilities uniquely different from those in the external world. Yet, as is the case with the still undiscovered material of the heavens, most of this universe is generally outside most folks’ awareness.

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The psychological perspectives advanced by Sigmund Freud and several others steeped in the “psychodynamic” tradition viewed accessing the unconscious mind as the primary way to uncover repressed painful memories, thwarted primitive drives, and buried emotional conflicts responsible for the various “neuroses.” But some psychodynamically-oriented thinkers such as Carl Jung thought of the unconscious as a richer domain. Other philosophies and systems of thought have long known about and respected the realm of the unconscious, although they might not use the language of psychodynamic psychology to describe it. Eastern philosophies, religions, and traditions have traditionally not only attached great value to expanding one’s conscious awareness but also have long believed that the benefits of expanded consciousness go far beyond the mere resolving of neurotic pain. Within these traditions, to be more fully aware is the ultimate human quest. To be more aware is to be more self-attuned, more empowered — and ultimately, more fully alive.

Just as there are many different philosophical approaches to learning about the world around us, including those parts of the material world we’ve yet to discover, there are different ways to gain better access to the world within. Most of us have regular contact with that world in a very unique way through our daily (mostly nightly) dreams. Dreams have a “language” all their own, however, so it takes some unique training, heightened awareness, and specialized skill to be able to fully access the wealth of information, inspiration, and creative energy that dreams can impart. But the inner world is a much bigger universe than just the world of dreams. And the vast domain that is the realm of the unconscious can be accessed through other practices, such as Zen mindfulness techniques, certain yoga exercises, imagery, meditation, as well as numerous artistic endeavors and expressions.

Although there are numerous pathways to the hidden universe within, relatively few individuals have explored this vast, rich territory of personal growth and enlightenment. Perhaps that’s largely because the demands of the external world so frequently and successfully divert our attention from the world within. So, although there’s a whole universe just waiting to be discovered, it takes considerable focus and commitment to seek and explore the wonders of the hidden world.

The next time you find yourself reveling in all the worldly things you’ve managed to do, see, and experience, give some thought to the world you rarely visit and whose wonders and powers are there for the taking. You might even want to find a mentor to help guide you through the process. Then take time — precious time — to explore the world within. You’ll be amazed at the treasures you can find.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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