Navigating the Path Inward

In the stillness of the morning, as I attempt to venture inward, I am uncharacteristically ill-at-ease. A cloud of uncertainty hangs over my journey; an inexplicable degree of reluctance to disengage fully from my worldly concerns prevents me from easily letting go as usual. Normally, I can easily quiet my mind, gradually descend through the layers of consciousness, and with minimal effort, center myself. In doing so, I typically am able to arrive once again where I left off, able to resume the journey, and to recognize and evaluate both how far I’ve come, and how far I have yet to go.

Oddly enough, in spite of this unsettling struggle, the effort required to resume my journey and the difficulty I seem to be experiencing, have not dissuaded me from being optimistic about the outcome. At times like this, I often wish I could more readily summon some greater personal strength or draw upon some untapped reserve or force of will to supplement my inner energies. In the past, I simply had to persist long enough to get back on track, or to withdraw and regroup at a later time in order to feel more confident in reaching the next step, and to resume the path of exploration.

I’ve conducted a great many such explorations of my inner world over the years, and, most often, once begun, it has been nearly impossible to contain myself, only occasionally requiring an additional effort to sustain momentum. This current bout of uncertainty is less familiar, but no less daunting. Over time, I have released much from within me, but I still typically sense that more is to come. How it will eventually turn out is still a matter of some speculation, and yet, I feel as though I am at least still headed in the right direction. If the problem persists, I may need to engage some sort of personal muse to awaken the inner strength to push me forward, and to drive me to go deeper—to reveal more.

I am feeling a bit lost, yet, not totally so. I have a sense of the landscape, but at times, it seems my eyes are either closed or unable to see clearly; the only way to progress requires me to redouble my efforts to relinquish my concerns about what I may or may not currently be able to see or feel, and to descend through the layers of my inner life to arrive at the core of my being, where all is one. After a short break, I once again resume my efforts to withdraw within, after conjuring and then utilizing the following words to help me focus:

“I am slowly descending now through the layers of consciousness. I am letting go of the temporal world. I am releasing my temporal self and my conscious thoughts. That which is me, that which my mind engages—thoughts, feelings—all of it—I release them all.”

As the weight of all these considerations becomes less, I am finally able to dissolve the partitions of objective existence, and to slowly descend into my inner world. As I navigate the path inward, I must allow my spirit to incrementally consume me, so that it can seek out and attain a degree of solace and inner solitude, and thoroughly relinquish all that concerns me as a conscious being; it is in this “place” where the temporal world crosses over into the intangible world.

I don’t have a clear view of it. Even my most earnest attempts to describe this process cannot accurately express what is taking place. I believe what I seem to “see” is not visual in nature, and there is no recognizable sensation—it doesn’t feel like anything I usually feel when I am awake and conscious. It actually doesn’t feel like anything at all, and as I reflect upon these moments later, I know there is nothing at all that it is like. It is not sensory. It is intangible, and the impressions I am left with afterwards, seem to have “floated up” from this “place.”

The resulting impressions sometimes inform my subsequent attempts to achieve a meditative state. I cannot say definitively what the true nature and source of these impressions might be, but upon reflection, I seem to possess a kind of “knowing,”—and I use this word as a concession because no single word can truly express it—but I know that it is real, and if there exists something akin to a “spiritual feeling,” I think that may be as close as we can come to describing the effect afterwards, and it clearly affects me deep down.

I do not pretend to know, in any more accurate manner, how to express what transpires during these episodes, expect perhaps to add that it is objectively real to me in my remembrance of it. It is always in retrospect, when I rise back up to subjective consciousness—when I reflect upon it and contemplate how I feel as a temporal being afterwards—that it seems to me, these “experiences,” in the depths of my inner world, are manifesting in very subtle ways in my temporal life after I return to the surface once again.

I have periodically noted in my personal journals, after I transcribed the words and thoughts and feelings I could recall about these interactions, when reviewing them later on as a conscious person, I occasionally only had a vague sense of having written those accounts myself. When I read the words on the page, conjured in an attempt to describe those moments again from memory, I sometimes wrote that it almost didn’t seem like the words were mine. And yet, I know they issued forth from me as my hand held the pen, or as my fingers glided across the keyboard, or as my voice echoed in the stillness as I spoke them.

It is not possible to definitively express such profound concepts, nor is it feasible to explain what takes place during such ineffable moments in terms that you might use to describe an ordinary experience, because they aren’t strictly experiential in the same sense as swimming in an ice-cold lake, or floating in the salty summer ocean.

There is no unambiguous corresponding way to describe such events. We can only search for metaphors and point in certain directions which inevitably must fall short of exactitude, since these events unfold where there is no physical space. Even so, from my point-of-view, the direction I follow within is fairly consistent in its breadth and depth, and it always brings me reliably to a realm where words and thoughts and feelings and sensations are not necessary. When I find myself there, I am consistently inspired by the strength and intensity of my inner life; my connection to it is predictably temporary in duration—so truly fleeting in the broadest sense—but it is, upon reflection, always subjectively real, and I cannot now imagine enduring my temporal existence without periodically spending even the most fleeting of moments interacting with the world within.

5 thoughts on “Navigating the Path Inward

  1. John, this is so beautifully written, so deep and introspective that I am intimidated to even leave a comment. I loved this post and I am working very hard to get to my inner being so I can heal physically. Bless you my friend, I hope you are doing well and today will bring you a smile. 🙂

    1. Wendi, thank you so much for your thoughtful response and I hope you won’t allow yourself to feel intimidated by anything you encounter here on my blog. Your positive response and kind words are most welcome. While it is always my goal to present writing with a certain depth that expresses my introspective nature, it is equally important to me that anyone who reads my postings receive some benefit from doing so, and that, if prompted to do so by the reading, they feel welcome to share whatever thoughts or comments they may have as a result. Your own blog has inspired me to respond and I know your talents well from reading there. If you would prefer to respond offline from here that would be alright too. I encourage anyone who is moved to make a comment to share it, either here or in my contact email.

      The process of familiarizing oneself with his or her own inner life can be challenging for a number of reasons. If we are not encouraged to do so as young people, or never exposed to the wide range of pathways to expansive world of the spirit in our individual lives, it takes a lot more effort to discover the path. Sometimes, traumatic events or prolonged health challenges can make it much more challenging to withdraw from our temporal routines long enough to become acquainted with our inner lives. My own struggles, which I have written about at length over the last eight years here, show that even with ample opportunity to explore our evolving human nature, clarity is not automatic and consistent determined effort is required. I still struggle today, but after thirty years of exploration, I have come to a much better understanding of my own “inner evolution,” and hope that by sharing with my readers, they may benefit from my experiences and research.

      Sharing WordPress with such great people as you is a gift, and I hope you and all my readers will feel free to share thoughts and questions either here or offline.

      1. Thank you so very much John. I deeply appreciate your kind and thoughtful words. I do have a question……….what was the first step that took you on your journey?

      2. Great question! Answering it, though, is not a simple matter exactly. Within the framework of John’s Consciousness, the initial push in my active pursuit of my journey to understand the traumatic event that I experienced in 1973 came right after it when I was stationed in Massachusetts. In December of 2013, I wrote this posting in which I announced my intention to tell the story of those days:

        Beginning in January of 2014, I started off explaining the specifics of the event itself, and continued throughout 2014 to tell the story in serial form. For some unknown reason, the initial posting of January 1, 2014 was somehow inadvertently deleted by WordPress, and I didn’t discover it until May of that year. I immediately re-posted the original blog entry during that month with an explanation for anyone trying to figure out what happened to it:

        Periodically, since 2014, I have selectively posted follow-up postings to clarify and expand on some of that earlier work, and in the process I came to realize that I had actually been on this journey for some time before that traumatic event. The actual “first step,” in the sense of the first deliberately chosen action on my spiritual journey came as a much younger man, when I asked permission to go on a retreat at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. My parents were quite surprised that I had an interest in the priesthood, but I was intensely curious in those days, and felt a deeply spiritual connection to certain individuals and at certain times when engaged in religious activities. It was an enlightening and oddly confusing experience, not the least because of the expressions on the faces of my parents and siblings when I returned from the retreat. I must have had a visible halo or something, because they all looked at me like I had become unrecognizable. Sometime later, I had a heartfelt conversation with my sponsor and mentor from the retreat, and explained that I needed more time to figure things out.

        Perhaps in the near future I will revisit this experience and talk more about it. Great question!

      3. Thank you so much John for taking the time to leave such a long response with links. I hope to read through them soon as possible as I am trying to get further down a path that I am not sure how to get there. Bless you for taking so much time to respond to all of my comments!

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