The inward journey sheds light. It also casts shadows. If you’re passionate, if you're mission-driven and see yourself on a path, you will eventually discover all roads lead home. In other words, true change is an inward deal. Or, as Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, Sufi mystic and teacher, succinctly put it:
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today, I am wise so I’m changing myself.”
Here are three nuggets to take with you as you seek to become the change you wish to see in the world.
Inner change takes courage and clear lenses. This is because we must look at ourselves honestly; seeing the dark as well as the light side of the forces that energize and color our personalities and behavior. For example, the same drive and tenacity that may have helped you overcome obstacles and challenges may show up as stubbornness when you refuse to let go of habits and “things” that do not serve your best interests. Using your lenses to focus on the faults of others, blaming them for your disappointments and unhappiness, may seem easy — for a while. But eventually we learn this is a self-defeating pattern in the long run. It blocks your lessons. And don’t we all have a few to learn in this life?
It’s all about you. It’s not about you. Working on inner change might feel narcissistic, egoistic or even contradictory. Rest assured, it’s not. As 20th century philosopher, theologian and author, Howard Thurman, who mentored and taught American civil rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., informed us: inner and outer transformation are inseparable. Personal and social change make a complete whole. They’re two sides of the same breath — the inhale and the exhale. So it’s absolutely all about you and at the same time the world in which we live. Remember change is not a dichotomy. It’s a dynamic.
Water your spirit. Nurture your soul. We all have free will and the power to make choices in any given moment. The spiritual approach to self-awareness and renewal point is inward. It is also an option on the journey of self-exploration. Best-selling author and spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson reminds us that we’re all spiritual, whether we’re aware of it or not. She says, “The spiritual path is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don’t know it.”
When it’s a choice, we can begin to consciously develop a more intimate relationship with Divinity, ourselves and humanity. Having a faith tradition — or a spiritual framework — can serve as a base for deeper exploration, discovery and learning. Read scriptures, other sacred texts and poetry. Worship and commune with others who share your vision and values. Prayer and meditation, as practices in the privacy of your own home, also help nurture and deepen the place from which we engage with ourselves, the people in our lives and our work in the world.