“This too shall pass.” - Unknown author
Why should we work on ourselves? What is the ultimate goal of such work?
It’s simple: to achieve permanent happiness. Or at least, to become much happier than our “normal life” offers. Even if our reason is curiosity or spiritual drive for the Truth, that’s again sort of happiness.
One might say that there are so many other methods to become happy, at least for a while. You can be happy by falling in love, exercising, eating, playing football, talking with your best friend, or doing countless other things. But, the emphasis here is on “for a while.” It won’t last long enough. And when such happiness passes away, there comes its opposite – suffering of various kinds. But that’s kind of expected result. Falling in love or eating – that’s not inner work at all.
On the other hand, even the sincerest self-improvement work will bring about some amount of pain into our lives. These difficulties are often unexpected so that we can talk about the side effects of inner work.
What is the inner work in the first place? It is a broad and fuzzy term. Many teachers and practitioners differ significantly on its meaning; however, I will describe it as conscious effort invested into achieving an ultimate spiritual goal or psychological development, on a regular basis.
True inner work must be comprehensive. It should include investing efforts toward spiritual liberation, developing love and presence, fulfilling and harmonizing goals, doing psychological work, and adhering to ethical standards. Otherwise, the achieved happiness won’t last much. Or all achievements will be accompanied by a lot of suffering.
However, even when you think you have covered all these areas with your work, you will still suffer from time to time. That’s inevitable until you reach the final liberation, or Nirvana as Buddhists call it.
Difficulties of Meditation
Some of the approaches mentioned above are in fact paths to Pure Consciousness, or Presence – meditation sittings, mindfulness, self-inquiry…and they all are inevitably accompanied by many unpleasant side-effects.
Whether you are trying to experience Truth through the process of self-inquiry or to empty your mind and live in the here and now through some form of meditation and mindfulness, you will unavoidably encounter many difficulties along that way. You will be uncovering a lot of previously suppressed emotions, long-forgotten decisions, deep-rooted beliefs, traumatic childhood experiences, fears, resentment, or other hidden mind contents. Even if you are simply trying to wake up pure love in your heart, you will also meet various unpleasant reactions from within.
During the meditation and mindfulness work your mind and body purify progressively. But there is a problem. As more and more layers of the subconscious mind are being removed, old, deeper structures that were mentioned above, emerge inevitably. As you are digging ever deeper into the microcosm of your psyche, any of these can be exposed to the light of your consciousness and triggered off unexpectedly.
As more and more layers of the subconscious mind are being removed, old, deeper structures emerge inevitably.
These unconscious structures can appear in diverse ways. They might manifest within your mind or physical body, so you could, for example, become depressed, anxious, over-reactive, or even physically ill. But if you are very stable mentally and fit physically, these long-suppressed subconscious contents will instead emerge in the outside world. You may experience all kinds of troubles, such as sudden accidents, serious disputes with your loved ones, or even attacks by total strangers.
It’s like the stillness within is telling us: OK, you are able to remain calm during your meditation sittings, when you walk, or during your chores. But are you able to maintain your stillness in this situation?
Or: OK, you can feel deep love of these people in those circumstances. But is your love really that well-founded? Can you love this person in this situation?
And you get the challenge to deal with. Only when you become able to deal with them appropriately, such people and circumstances will not appear in your life anymore.
Difficulties of Goal Achievement Work
Generally speaking, work on goals is even trickier than meditation or mindfulness. For a goal or intention to be fully accomplished, it must be:
2) Without much resistance from your other goals and various parts of your personality, and
3) To be “immersed” into the state of Presence or Pure Consciousness before its manifestation.
Therefore, you have to be very careful during any goal achievement work. Almost every goal carries with it a cluster of various desires, negative beliefs, emotions, and decisions, that are in fact obstacles to the goal’s manifestation. Also, there is always some amount of misalignment or disharmony with other important goals that you want to achieve or with many other parts of your personality. This conflict will produce friction and pain.
To attain the goal, most of these subconscious obstacles and all disharmonious tendencies must be removed peacefully, for example through some form of the Reintegration process.
Difficulties of Psychological Work
This is also a wide area. Psychoanalysis, Transpersonal psychology, Personality psychology, Transaction Analysis, NLP, Reintegration System, etc. – all have quite different approaches, but demand a lot of work anyway. Typically, these types of inner work are not about Pure Consciousness, nor achieving goals. They direct you toward the transformation or integration of various parts of your psyche. Still, they may also trigger numerous disturbing side-effects.
During such work, some aspects of personality are changing, realigning, or reconfiguring. There will be a lot of friction among them until a new mutual equilibrium is established. That friction unavoidably generates suffering, which can be expressed in many ways, too.
Any kind of unexpected physical or emotional troubles may appear. All sorts of unpleasant experiences may arise in your external reality, in forms of aggressive people, sad events, dangerous accidents or anything else.
As already said, the distractions during your practice sessions can be internal, external, or both.
Throughout your session, be attentive to all interruptions of the desired state or the state of Presence. Numerous thoughts, emotions or physical sensations will emerge. Every single of them represents some inner conflict or hindrance to your desired state.
Therefore, you have to remove and reintegrate them all. Otherwise, any of these may manifest in the external world. If you neglect them, they could wreak havoc in your everyday life.
You can overcome these inner obstacles simply by accepting each of them entirely or, if the distracting content is recurring and complex, by using the Reintegration System’s techniques.
The distractions during your practice sessions can be internal, external, or both.
Outer distractions are often neglected or ignored in almost all types of spiritual or psychological practice, even though they always represent some inner obstacle. They develop and manifest when the previous internal distractions are neglected or suppressed.
For example, someone enters your room in the middle of your meditation and interrupts it. Why do these things happen? The person who interrupts your inner work is the representation of some concrete, subconscious structure.
First, you must accept the person’s sudden appearance and the whole situation totally; then continue calmly with your session. Later, you can contemplate what they embody – maybe that person is an outer representation of your stubbornness, or anger, or any of your other inner conflicts.
As an illustration, let’s say that your sibling often expresses her anger or rage toward you. She just entered your room unexpectedly and disrupted your stillness.
The hidden lesson of this situation could be: if you are determined to expand your consciousness, some previously suppressed inner conflicts are preventing you in achieving that, and one of them is your anger. As this particular sort of rage is embodied in your sibling, it is evident that you must resolve your own anger, represented by her.
Your inner knots will also manifest some time after your sessions. For instance, when you finish some important Reintegration process successfully, you might enjoy a blissful state of sublime peace and deep satisfaction with the fact that you resolved one of your most severe inner conflicts. That state may last for several hours, days, or even longer. But a reaction will undoubtedly come.
The blissful state will uncover anything which is the most appropriate for you to deal with, at that particular moment. Typically, it is the next layer of your subconscious inner world, a layer of suppressed traumatic experiences and pain of all kinds.
Fear not – as the blissful state is infinitely intelligent, it will “bring” you only those experiences that you can withstand and overcome. Again, those experiences can be internal or external.
If internal, you may face physical difficulties like vibrating, tingling or itching sensations, periods of fatigue, increase or decrease in appetite, flu-like or allergy-like symptoms, heart palpitations and fluttering, dizziness, etc. You can also experience flashes of traumatic memories, emotional outbursts, swarms of thoughts, anything, until a new equilibrium of your subconscious structures is achieved.
You may encounter disturbing hardships in your outer world, too, as described previously.
Fear not – as the blissful state is infinitely intelligent, it will “bring” you only those experiences that you can withstand and overcome.
All these difficulties are indicators of your spiritual evolution’s acceleration. The main life lessons that lie ahead of you must be learned. In this way, you encounter these lessons earlier than it would be without your inner work. Still, you must pass through a certain amount of suffering. However, that suffering is significantly milder and softer, as you are going through that process consciously.
You should not allow these setbacks to become real pitfalls. Many people are often discouraged by such experiences. They feel that these events or negative states are somehow related to their inner work, and decide to abandon it, at least for a time. That’s a pity because without their spiritual practice they would have passed later through similar experiences but in a much harsher way.
You should not allow these setbacks to become real pitfalls.
What to Do?
So, during your meditations don’t forget to pay attention to all kinds of distractions. All of them – inner or outer – represent some obstacle to your desired state. You have to reintegrate all those emerging interruptions, one by one. Otherwise, they will manifest in the external world afterward.
Either way, you will encounter some difficulties after your sessions. You may entirely forget to be here and now, you may experience swarms of thoughts, emotions or various painful life events.
Do not force your meditative practice. If you feel that you are overwhelmed with hardships, slow down your pace, but do not give up. You have to persevere. Know that these challenges are temporary.
If you feel that you are overwhelmed with hardships, slow down your pace, but do not give up. You have to persevere.
Continue with shorter sessions and focus on revealing the causes of your hardships. Dive deeply into your past and try to find the roots of the problem. Again, you are the source of everything that happens to you, as it is postulated by the Holographic Principle.
The hardships lie in various parts of your inner being. These parts were already mentioned above, but here are some more concrete examples:
There could be even more to this list, even more reasons for your possible hardships – long forgotten bad habits, lack of self-confidence and self-worthiness, or many other things.
To deal with these challenges, I would recommend one of the most comprehensive and powerful RS techniques, the Inner Triangle, or other RS main techniques.
Also, your self-development should be comprehensive. Try to change or improve your general attitudes in life. Be aware that everything passes. Develop the attitude of full responsibility for your own life. Love yourself and others, but don’t force your compassionate feelings too much. First, learn to remain calm, and pure love will begin to pour out of your heart naturally.
Practice forgiving yourself and all other people. Always help them and be kind. Develop modesty and live humbly. From time to time, exercise the all-inclusive attention. Do journaling regularly. Be open-minded and nurture your creativity. Don’t cling to anything, drop all attachments. Exchange ideas and experience with others. Feel gratitude for everything in your life.
Don’t forget the physical aspect of your being. You are responsible for your own body, so maintaining a healthy diet and exercise is essential, too.
And finally, fuel up your spiritual passion. Your craving and determination toward God, enlightenment, final liberation or whatever your deepest desire points to, has to be the most powerful driving force of your life.
The whole Universe will conspire to fulfill your innermost desire. There is no doubt – you will succeed!
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