Lesson #3: Why the Universe Within You is So Important
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it… does it make a sound?
Sound waves are emitted, yes. But there’s no actual sound.
That’s because sound is something that is heard by ears (or some other recording device). It’s when a nervous system recognizes sound waves, that actual “sound” is real.
Sound is something co-created by external sound waves out there, and a person’s internal nervous system. It doesn’t just come from out there; it comes from within you too.
Reality comes from within you
As we discussed last week, the brain-body co-creates reality. Something is only real to you when you can experience it through your physical senses. Reality isn’t something that objectively exists “out there.”
Reality is created from within you.
Take color perception for example. Colors aren’t “out there” in the world. It’s light waves that exist out there. It’s light waves that enter your eyes, to then stimulate cells in your brain to “see” certain colors depending on what wavelengths come through.
It’s the same principle as the tree falling in the empty forest. Sound doesn’t come from the tree (only sound waves do).
Sound is inseparable from the experience of the brain perceiving/hearing those sound waves. Color is inseparable from the experience of the brain perceiving/seeing those light waves.
(By the way, if you want to read a fun and detailed account of the constructive nature of human vision, check out Eye and Brain by Richard L. Gregory. It was one of my favorite books in college.)
Pay attention to how you co-create your reality from within
When trying to lead happier and healthier lives, people get hung up on the reality “out there.”
They try to control their environment, control their future, control what others do, and what people around them think and feel. But they’re looking to change their reality in the wrong way.
To change your reality for the better, you have to pay attention to how you co-create your reality – from within.
You have to be mindful of your personal narrative, your beliefs and attitudes, all of your emotions, and your assumptions and expectations about the world and your place it it.
Because first of all, you can’t always change external things no matter how hard you try. You can only choose your responses to life.
And secondly, if you ignore what’s going on inside of you, you won’t be able to choose your responses to life in sensible ways. Because what’s going on inside of you — guides how you behave.
You have to know what’s going on in your inner universe if you are to gain any bearings in life at all. If you are to even think about creating your life as a mindful construct.
The universe within you — which is made up of your personal narrative, cognitive networks, personal constructs, and so on — shapes the way you experience and they way you perceive and interpret that experience. Meaning it co-creates your life experience.
As we already touched on through the exercise at the end of the previous lesson, one way to be more mindful of your personal narrative, your beliefs and attitudes, all of your emotions, and your assumptions and expectations about the world and your place in it — is to start capturing it through writing (audio recordings work too).
Now, if you’re really sharp at this, you can start to notice these things in your daily conversations just by paying closer attention to what you say to others and why. But that’s big league stuff, it’s easier to start out with just you alone. (In the next section we’ll go over three ways to start this.)
In capturing your “raw” thoughts and feelings through writing, you can look to them as clues for what’s really going on inside your head. You can also view them in a concrete way, which is really important.
3 ways to start tending to your inner universe
Below are three powerful ways to start tending to your inner universe. Pick the one that stands out to you most — and stick with it for 28 days. It’s a good length of time to program a new habit.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you can pick more than one. But the goal is to stick with at least one practice for 28 days. Gardens aren’t grown in a day, but take lots of tending to over long periods of time. So it is too with tending to your inner universe.
Here are the options:
- Journal every morning for at least twenty minutes before starting your day — Before you do anything else after waking up — brushing your teeth, checking your email, having breakfast, greeting your dog — sit down with pen and paper and write about whatever is on your mind. Take at least twenty minutes to completely unleash your inner thoughts… so you can start to get in touch with what you really think and feel about the people in your life and where you feel you’re headed. Julia Cameron provides wonderful instructions on how to write what she calls “morning pages” in The Artist’s Way.
- Talk out loud to yourself each night before bed – It may sound silly, but you’d be surprised what you learn about yourself when let yourself talk freely, without worrying about what other people think. This is a good exercise to do into a tape recorder and even better if also in front of a mirror (it could be a hand-held one). Just talk about whatever you want to. You can reflect on your day, talk about what was good, or gripe about what annoyed you. The point is to get comfortable hearing your inner conversations that are always there just below the surface.
- Keep a log of your negative thoughts — This is an exercise I’ve recently come to cherish. It’s a personal log or journal that’s kept separate from your normal journal. This log needs to be specifically designated to recording your negative moods — whenever they arise. Use it to write down complaints, voice upsets, seethe with jealousy, talk bad about someone you just can’t stand anymore, or even record negative self-talk that’s been drumming on in your head. The point is to acknowledge those raw, not-so-nice emotions rather than trying to stop them. The point is to let them flow through your writing, with mindfulness. The point is to let your ego roam free, and then to take response ability by figuring out how you can nurture it — your wounded inner child. Once those gut feelings are out there on paper, you can go back to it later and figure out how to work with those emotions in constructive ways.
Of course, these are only a few ways to get started. There are tons more, and tending to your inner universe is a life-long process. Have other exercises that have worked wonders for you in getting you more in tune with your inner universe? Share them below!
Next lesson I’ll share eleven powerful books that have worked wonders for me over the years…
All the best,
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