More important than staying in touch with the world is staying in touch with ourselves

We often want to stay in touch with the world, ostensibly to be prepared in case something happens somewhere that is likely to impact us. 

While the principle of being prepared is good, we need to apply it not just to our outer world but also to our inner world. After all, what happens inside us impacts us far more than whatever happens outside us. 

Suppose we experience uncomfortable emotions such as annoyance, loneliness or insecurity. These emotions point to inner issues that need to be addressed. Instead of addressing such challenging issues, we distract ourselves using external things such as current affairs and breaking news. 

As we are out of touch with ourselves, our unaddressed inner issues fester, eventually making us explode or implode. When some small trigger pushes us over the tipping point, wild reactions erupt from within us. Our moods and mood swings remain a maddening mystery for us. 

Why do we over-react? Because we are so caught in preparing for things that may happen in the outer world as to be unprepared for what happens in our inner world. Pertinently the Bhagavad-gita recommends that we distance ourselves from the world’s ways (13.11) and cultivate spiritual awareness (13.12).

How can we stay in touch with ourselves? By becoming aware of our feelings — and, more importantly, becoming aware of the feeler of those feelings: the soul, the essence of who we are. When we see ourselves as the unchanging ground of our changing emotions, we can deal with those emotions maturely: accepting, analyzing and acting on them as appropriate. 

To become aware of ourselves, we need to give adequate time for introspection, meditation and spiritual cultivation. Then, even if something unexpected happens in our outer world, we can check our default reactions and choose healthier responses. 

Think it over:

  • What happens when we don’t stay in touch with ourselves?
  • How can we stay in touch with ourselves?
  • How can staying in touch with ourselves prepare us for dealing with the world?

***

13.11 Constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; … [ – all these I declare to be knowledge].

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  1. JAPA guides the way

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