“The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Last summer, I had the privilege of visiting the stately Dunrobin Castle, located in the northern part of Scotland.
Perched on a high terrace, surrounded by magnificent gardens, the castle rises above the North Sea like a picture from a storybook, with its fairy tale spires and turrets reaching out for the sky.
It’s nestled in the lush and green Scottish Highlands, which is peppered with herds of sheep. This beautiful sight, coupled with the cool breeze that gently caressed my face, transported me to a magical place. While sipping on some hot tea, I excitedly walked into the various rooms of the castle – the dining room, the music room, the breakfast room, the drawing room, and the library, which houses over 10,000 books!
As I wandered around, I tried imagining the Earls and Dukes, who lived there as early as the 1300s, sauntering through the rooms in their kilts and fine regalia. Living in this fairly isolated setting, surrounded by nature, gave them the luxury to indulge in the sensual pleasures of life such as music, food, art and interpersonal connections. Lucky for them, there were no TVs, phones or Instagram accounts to update!
I could see how life in the castle offered its occupants the time and space to explore their own inner castle. Having access to all the rooms in the castle shielded them from distractions and provided a direct inner path to self-knowledge and personal reflection. Although I can’t imagine living without all our modern conveniences, I envied the simplicity and the serenity of the life that these aristocrats led.
Nowadays, we’re inundated with information and responsibilities vying for our attention. In addition to that, our society’s culture has become very outward-looking, where people are now taken by the latest news, trends, fads, and any opportunities to boost power and status. It’s no wonder that people are now feeling increasingly more disconnected with their real self.
We feel cut off from our feelings because we’ve become desensitized and less fluent in the emotional vernacular, making our existence seem like a monotonous routine of dry practicalities. A person living this kind of existence may feel that their life force is being drained out and that they’re losing themselves to the whims and fancies of the people and institutions.
But life doesn’t have to be bland and boring. We can instantly shift our outlook from grayscale to Technicolor by simply changing our orientation towards life. We can add vibrancy to our experiences by cultivating our inner world of imagination, feelings and creativity.
The world is a neutral place and we’re the ones who give it meaning through our thoughts and feelings. This essentially makes life an internal experience that is dependent upon our perception. We’re the master artists who can variety, color and richness to our experiences.
You don’t have to live the glamorous life of an aristocrat or a celebrity to create a dynamic interior world. Anyone can do it, but it does require us to commit to spending time alone with our thoughts and feelings.
Scheduling some quality “me-time” to self-reflect and connect with our unique essence is essential when it comes to developing a rich inner life.
Another benefit of having an inward focus is that you could become a person of substance if you prioritize your personal growth. You can expand your knowledge, observe your surroundings and analyze things at a deeper level. You follow a healthy mental diet by feeding your mind with books and other resources that enrich you.
Our inner world also happens to be the bedrock of our creative instincts. We all have jewels that are buried deep within us, which shine with the sparkle of creative potential. When we engage in introspective activities we’ll be able to unearth those jewels within us.
But like anything else that’s worth achieving in life, cultivating a rich inner world will require dedication, discipline and consistency. The good news is that the rewards from your efforts will be plentiful and well worth it. Here are five simple ways to cultivate a rich inner world:
1. Listen to enriching stories: Stories are, without the doubt, one of the most effective ways to enliven your experiences. They have been a major source of entertainment since the dawn of mankind. The reason why we can connect with stories so well is because they activate the emotional center of our brain. We’re able to paint a picture in our mind’s eye and experience things vicariously. Indulging in a good story, whether it’s through a novel, movie, or an interesting anecdote shared with you, will not only light up your neural networks but transport you to different worlds.
2. Make time for self-reflection: If we’re too busy running around and jumping from one activity to the next, it’s almost impossible to carve out the time to reflect on or synthesize our thoughts and feelings. One of the major steps in cultivating a rich inner life is by following daily rituals that give you the mental clearing that your mind needs to drift and wander without any pressures. Some of the practices that you can adopt include journaling, meditating, walking in nature or taking up some kind of creative hobby.
3. Engage in the arts: Have you ever heard a piece of music or watched a movie scene that gave you goose bumps? That’s because there was something in the piece that you witnessed that resonated with you in a profound way. Watching movies, reading literature, listening to music, attending concerts, sporting events or stage shows can invigorate our senses and give us a peek into another dimension of the human experience.
4. Express your creativity: The late spiritual teacher Wayne Dyer once said, “When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.” I find this to be especially true, not only in how we interact with others, but also in our creative contributions. The biggest artists and luminaries of humankind had an incredibly rich inner landscape that they tended to carefully like a garden. Just think of the internal world of someone of the likes of Van Gogh, Einstein, Mandela or Michael Jackson. The significant contributions that they made to society and global culture were a result of the skills, ideas and values that they tirelessly cultivated within themselves.
5. Boost your self-awareness: Having a clear sense of self is the equivalent of having an anchor within that helps you stay centered and focused in the face of challenges and difficulties. Knowing who you are and what you stand for will raise your personal vibration and live life from a purposeful place. You’ll make decisions that are aligned the truth of who you are.
Our inner self is essentially the home of our soul. When we stay connected to our soul, we can tap into the abundant support available from the Universe, which can elevate us to higher planes of existence.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: What are the steps you’re willing to take to build a rich inner life within you?
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