If you find yourself twitching when the news comes on, snapping at loved ones, or having no emotional reaction to a difficult event in your own life, you may be disconnected from your inner life. Human life is multi-faceted. When you think of your own, the various external areas—career, family, hobbies, significant others—may come to mind first. But what about your relationship with self? This internal life often fades from view, or consciousness, when your external life or events in the broader world become overwhelming or tragic. In the wake of natural disasters, political instability, or personal loss, your internal life requires active participation, not stasis. It is the key to reconnecting with your personal values and how you can live in alignment with them.
What It Means to Be an Internal Activist
Amplifying your inner world—through what I call “internal activism”—helps you creatively and completely experience your days, relationships, and self. The key to leading an internally active life is to stay attentive to yourself. This involves not just noticing what you are doing day-to-day but how you are feeling and participating in your relationships. This doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of others or everyday productivity. Focusing on external needs or ticking items off a to-do list can be gratifying, but in the long-term, and when times are tough, it’s important to remember that you can’t passively connect with your self.
You don’t have to go on a destination retreat (lovely as that may be) to activate your inner life, though. With curiosity about your self, you can start now, right where you are. Kriya yoga, the yoga of action, is all about practices of self-care and awareness. Its three components are svadhyaya (self-study), tapas (effort), and ishvara pranidhana (love). This six-part series will explore each of these in detail. For now, let’s look at activating your internal life by reconnecting to your feelings.
How to Activate Your Inner Life by Reconnecting to Feelings
Internal action doesn’t have to involve physical action and can be very simple. I am most able to re-enter my inner life when I take at least 10 minutes, by myself, sitting on a meditation cushion. I close the door so my 85-pound dog doesn’t try to sit on my lap. And I sit. And I breathe.
You could try that or go for a walk without your phone. You could stay in bed for 5 extra minutes in the morning and notice how you feel and which thoughts creep up at the beginning of your day. As with all yoga practices, activating your inner life takes repetition and practice.
About Our Expert
Laura Riley is a writer, yoga teacher, and social justice attorney based in Los Angeles. This article is adapted from her manuscript Internal Activism.