Like anything else on your amazingly complex and wonderfully made human body, your inner power, grace and balance require a bit of exercise, lots of healthy nibbles and the opportunity to grow. When life has us in the cross-hairs of a tough moment, how can we draw upon and reinforce our inner power? By strengthening it in the calm days, equipping yourself with positive and productive thoughts. I’d like to tell you that it’s just a matter of chanting some mantra or “thinking bee.”
Inner strength. What exactly is that, anyhow?
It might help to think of inner strength as the keys to your kingdom. Inner strength is a combination of willpower and fortitude, it’s a true north on your moral compass, and the little voice in your head. Inner strength is often seen as a Divine gift – the soul within you taking control of the pesky flesh that gets us in trouble again and again. The most famous psychologist of all time, Freud, labeled us with three parts – the Id, the Ego and the SuperEgo. Your inner strength is that Ego, the part that regulates between the rule adherent, uptight Superego, and the hell-bent-on-satisfaction Id. You might feel like that from time to time – stronger than steel, then wimpy and unable? Committed to breaking through, and then confounded by making bad choices. Are you nuts? Nope. Developing stronger inner power will help you stay the course and allow you to have fun. Getting out of balance gives your inner SuperEgo (the Judge) to much time to rule your life with the word “should.”
Twenty years from now, you will be more
disappointed by the things that you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
Your inner strength consists of really unique to you things like self discipline, self control. Strength entails the wisdom of understanding and choosing attachments with the ability to detach as well; inner strength allows you to make real decisions for the best reason, not emotional decisions based in fear or addiction. Inner strength includes fun aspects of your personality, like curiosity and persistence. With inner strength comes peace of mind, concentration and awareness of your emotional state.
Willpower on the other hand is the inner strength to take actions and to make decisions. Willpower is that inner voice that resolves to move on, to get up and change your diet, exercise habits, etc. Willpower deals with resistance, discomfort and the temptations of life. Willpower is going to get you committed to the game; it’s going to be what helps you overcome temptations, negative habits, laziness, and to carry out actions, even if they are tedious and unpleasant.
To begin rebuilding — or building — your internal strength, it helps to ‘clear the mechanism.’ We carry a lot of baggage…and it’s pretty toxic. How do you quiet the internal storm? Obviously, I am a fan of talk therapy, hypnosis, guided imagery. No, I am not weird, the stuff just works. I’m a big advocate of meditation.
Can’t imagine it?
Sure you can!
The MP3’s below will help you learn the basics of visual imagery, contemplation of self and appreciation of quiet. In addition to calming your frayed edges, meditation is one of the best ways to develop your inner strength and power is to practice meditation as it helps you relax in many ways, provides relief from stress, and boosts your energy levels.
I use meditation music and a prerecorded visualization exercise that I taped for clients in the still of early morning or night. I have several rooms in my house where I feel very comfortable; for me, my living room filled with antiques and a fireplace, overstuffed couches and a million pillows offers a calming, beautiful place to sense freedom of the soul. Some of the most memorable parts of my life occurred in that space. I sit on an oversize pillow in gentle light, breathe in a scent chosen to suit my needs/mood and explore my inner landscape. If I get distracted, I just forgive myself and come back to the process of relaxation. Meditation is a holistic experience, shunned in our “get up and go” crazy world. Sometimes, I think all that chatter and activity is covering up for deeper unmet needs.
Tips from the “pros” to help you meditate:
- Focus on breathing and nothing else. Feel the rhythmic sensation of breathing in, and blowing it out thorough your mouth, slowly.
- Count your breaths. Focus on the feel of the air in your lungs.
- The sharpness of your focus will lessen, once your breathing evens out.
- Chose to dismiss thoughts that come to clutter your mind. Instead, imagine yourself in a place of peace, exploring your own inner world.
- Keep with it. Nothing is ever perfect right out of the gate. You will begin to think more clearly and other stray thoughts that often seem to jumble your mind will clear.
- Having problems staying centered and quiet? Return your concentration to breathing. Begin counting again. There is no right or wrong…just be flexible to learn.
I began to use affirmations seriously last year, mostly to reclaim my own battered and bruised mental health and recover my inner strength. Today, I can’t imagine my life without it. Upon waking, I use meditative language like this from FreeMeditation.com. Upon waking have these positive thoughts….
I am a peaceful soul, my aim today is to have a peaceful mind
and radiate peace to every person that I come into contact with.
Try to experience the stillness of mind of being a peaceful soul,
as other thoughts emerge in the mind….
do not judge or focus on them but repeat….
I am a peaceful soul …I am a peaceful soul …
My mind is filled with peace …
I radiate peace to the world …
I feel the gentle waves of peace flowing across my mind …
As these peaceful thoughts emerge in my mind
I feel the stillness and silence envelopes my mind …
I am the peaceful soul …… I am a peaceful loving soul …
My mind feels light and free from worries …
I realize my real nature is peace …
Peace of mind in my true nature …
Peaceful thoughts flow through the mind
and I feel the self becoming light …
I am a being of light and peace shining like a star…
I radiate peace and light to the world …
The light and peace envelopes me and the waves of peace
and light shine from my mind like a lighthouse …
I continue to radiate peace to the world
as I fill my mind with peace love and light …
through this peace i feel love and benevolence for all souls .
I see on the screen of my mind a radiant light
and this light feels gentle and soothing.
I the peaceful soul feel at peace with myself, this stillness
of mind enables me to feel content and complete…
This is the wonderful journey of self discovery.
Learn the art of deep breathing appropriately, so that your inner strength and power are enhanced. The demand of oxygen for your brain increases, when you feel tensed, whereas shallow breaths reduce the intake of oxygen that leads to suffocation of the brain cells.
Breathe through your nose until you feel full, though not excessively so. While you deep breathe, your abdominal area will increase and your chest will rise. While exhaling, draw your lower abdominal area in, followed by the upper. Stay in that position for half a second, and then continue with the exercise.
Listen to the World Around You
I had to laugh at myself a few months ago. I was suspended about a hundred and fifty yards off the ground, zip lining from one mountain top to another on a mile long line. Leaning back on my harness and watching the earth fly by, I realized just what I’d been missing in the hustle of my everyday life. In that moment, nothing really mattered except the people I truly love; all of the angst from long past people, broken relationships and the dark time of the soul melted in the warm light of day. I can only describe that moment in music; absolute and total freedom. I can only encourage you to pick up the life that you live, one strand at a time and examine it’s beauty.
Affirm who you are and why you’re even here at all – and I promise you, that inner strength you have will rise to the surface. It helps us to remember that the occurrences of life – loss of life, love, status – they’re temporary. Those things that you chose…they’re life long. Make your own choices clearly, inhaling understanding, exhaling confusion or chaos.
Laughter isn’t always about what is funny, but it changes your state. It physically perks you up. Even though sometimes a laugh might just be in good fun…you have to realize that it’s empowering you to physically change your posture, it helps a great deal in boosting your inner strength and power, as it causes the release of a very special kind of endorphin. Rent a great movie, see a comic, listen to old standup on vinyl…find an outlet where you can simply be amused. While we might think it is funny…yuck, yuck….having a good laugh makes you feel good about yourself, which makes your energy levels rise. When you genuinely laugh…like I do with my sis Donna, there is a rise in heart rate, improvement in circulation and that makes the blood flow more efficiently throughout the body. It cancels out that flight or fight response. Consider these words….
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark,
in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite,
the not-yet, the not-at-all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish,
in lonely frustration for the life you deserved,
but have never been able to reach.
Check your road and the nature of your battle.
The world you desired can be won.
It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.
I’m in love with teaching mindfulness to clients, family and friends. Here is an excerpt from the gurus of About.com on mindfulness…
Source: Roemer, L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2008). Mindfulness- and acceptance-based behavioral therapies in practice. New York, NY: Guilford.
What is Mindfulness?
In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in touch with the present moment and being open to experiences as they come. Mindfulness has been around for ages. However, mental health professionals are beginning to recognize that mindfulness can have many benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
Skills of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is made up of a number of skills, all of which require practice. These skills are briefly described below:
One skill of mindfulness is learning how to focus your attention on one thing at a time. This includes being aware of and able to recognize all the things that are going on around you (for example, sights and sounds), as well as all the things that are going on inside you (for example, thoughts and feelings).
- Nonjudgmental/Nonevaluative Observation
This skill is focused on looking at your experiences in a nonjudgmental way. That is, simply looking at things in an objective way as opposed to labeling them as either “good” or “bad.” An important part of this skill is self-compassion.
- Being in the Present Moment
Part of mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment as opposed to being caught up in thoughts about the past (also called rumination) or the future (or worry). An aspect of this skill is being an active participant in experiences instead of just “going through the motions” or “being stuck on auto-pilot.”
- Beginner’s Mind
This skill of mindfulness focuses on being open to new possibilities. It also refers to observing or looking at things as they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or evaluate them to be. For example, going into a situation with a preconceived notion of how things will turn out can color your experience. This can prevent you from getting in touch with the true experience.
Mindfulness takes practice. Some people may put aside time to formally practice mindfulness, such as devoting time to practice mindful awareness of their breath or thoughts. However, the good thing about mindfulness is that you can also practice it at any point throughout your day. For example, you can bring mindfulness awareness to a number of activities that we often do without thinking, such as eating, washing dishes, cooking, taking a shower or bath, walking, driving in the car, or listening to music.
As you go about your day, try to find as many opportunities as you can to practice mindfulness. The more you practice, the easier it will become to bring mindful awareness to your life experiences, which in the end may also help you cope.
What Are You Saying?
Your internal speak can charge or drain your strength, before you even get out of the gate. Negative self dialogue may not be what you hear, but could be the way that you view yourself. Think for a time what you consider about yourself – do you hold yourself in high regard? Is your body and self image positive? Do you see yourself as a victim or survivor instead of a unique human being? Do your past events define you? If I asked you to tell me who you are….how many of your explanations would be about your family, job, education, past?
Who are you? Try writing ten verbs that tell me who you are, outside of the world. I am…an adventuress…a lover of words…a follower of the way…passionate…sensual…sexy….beautiful (to me!)…..intelligent…..daring…..honest…..can you do this? Words to be passionate by. Try writing ten positive words about who you are as an individual. (Mom or Dad doesn’t count…it’s important, but it doesn’t count.)
Still having problems? Try this worksheet on self esteem. changingmyselftalk
Realize that You’re Art in Progress
No matter where you are in life, you’re still growing. It’s okay if the first years were chaos, hectic, horrible, pleasant or even amazing. Life is out there, in your future. It is in the now. The past…it’s over. Time to live free of it all. Consider….
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; its in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
Moving forward, we’re going to explore how your own self actualization leads to a deficit of inner strength, and how you might change your state to accept fully the wonderful person that you truly are inside. Inner strength is rooted in knowing your own self worth – and I promise you, that is a high value. You are a designers original, someone that is like no other…you’re not common, you’re extraordinary.
Get your “quiet” groove on so that we can work together on inner peace and growth next week. Write in with any questions…and know that I send you all the love and light within me. I will leave you with another wonderful track from Anahata. Visit their site and show them love.