Late last Fall, I stumbled onto a YouTube discussion between Mike Tyson, and Yogi/Mystic Sadhguru. (Video clip found here.) It kicked off with the quote a quote stating “The only way out is in.” I was hooked.
After watching the discussion, I was drawn to seek and understand more about Sadhguru and his work. I learned of his book and movement called Inner Engineering. I read it and quickly enrolled in the on-line 30-ish hour course described by clicking the link. It has changed my life.
For as long as I can recall, I have moved through the world both aware that I am not the only one it, and also committed to bringing as much harmony to it, as I possibly could. Much of my energy has been spent on mitigating whatever external circumstances might be waiting to explode. This has been true in my home and personal live, as well as at work.
I could say that having a specially gifted young man like our son Zach trained me to think algorithmically, always trying to get ahead of the next shoe that drops. And that would be true. But my endless treks down decision trees and “what if…then that” hypotheticals did not come from Zach. I learned early on that the best way to manage the world is proactively.
So when I heard “The only way out is in” and subsequently immersed myself in the on-line Inner Engineering program, it was a major paradigm shift. It was the first time I recall being taught that I cannot, and should not try to, control anything outside of myself. It was a 180 degree flip from my life long efforts at controlling everything. Even with years of studying Buddhist and other spiritual principles, working on my meditation practice and pursuing all things to increase my mental toughness aptitude, my “focus” has always been about making the world around me more harmonious.
Until Inner Engineering.
This is not an advertisement for the program, or even an endorsement really. It is more like an invitation for you to consider letting things be as they are, and learning to engineer your inner system and menu of situational responses such that they reflect the highest version of yourself.
Before completing Inner Engineering I was reactive. I had sharpened my “non-reactive” skills over the years and have gotten better about not letting physical scenarios trigger reflexive and even compulsive reactions in me. However, I have not been skillful at avoiding my internal alarms and anxieties. It is just that until recently I was able to keep most of them to myself instead of blurting them out, or acting them out, and later regretting it.
Now that I am saturating all aspects of everyday life with the concept that I can’t control anything outside of myself, that has changed. I am learning that I am the only one I can control, and therefore I should focus my efforts internally. I am now working on the skills I need to train myself in being responsible. When I engineer myself to be fully able to respond in all situations to the best of my abilities, I experience an increased sense of harmony. I also sigh with major relief that the world is not my domain. I feel lighter now that my main focus is being able to respond to the world, but not control it.
As an extension of this pursuit I have also participated in live Inner Engineering events including extended meditation and yoga programs. Most recently, and the inspiration for this post was my first ever trip to Isha Institute of Inner Well-Being Sciences, just outside of Nashville, TN. I was able to spend several hours with Sadhguru in live talks and meditation programs. The consecrated spaces brought a calm to my energy that I have not experienced before now. And I am learning how to maintain that state a little more each day.
In the meantime, you may or may not have any interest in learning more about creating yourself in such a way that you are ready for anything. Even if it is not your thing, I encourage you to open to the big idea that if we work on showing up as our best, most capable selves, we can release our compulsion to control the world, and the people and circumstances around us. This simple but complex mental shift might just bring you the Peace you have been seeking, as it has done for me.
Investing in ourselves, and working to become the highest versions of who we were created to be is one of the most important contributions we can make in our lifetimes. Although we never actually attain that highest version, just trying to embody it brings out the parts of me that make me who I am: Loving, Compassionate, Empathetic and All-Inclusive. These traits enhance my ability to respond the world in a way that is genuine, feels natural and takes little effort.
The more authentically we are planted, the greater our ability to establish meaningful and lasting connections with the world and others in it. Any practice that has the potential to enhance connection with others is one I want to learn more about. Whether it is Inner Engineering or another resource, focusing on our own skills, including our ability to respond to situations in ways that we feel proud of, rather than regretful about, I encourage you to ponder these questions:
- What is my personal investment in my own ability to respond to conditions and circumstances around me?
- Is there any room for increased attention to my responses?
- Can time that I now spend spinning wheels on the things I can’t control, be spent on engineering myself such that what happens around me is somewhat secondary?
- Do I consistently interact with the world in ways that feel genuine?
- Do I regret aspects of my reactions to the world around me on a regular basis?
- How often do I engage in behavior that is compulsive, rather than a true reflection of what I consider to be my core values?
- Could the currents of fear that mostly underlie everything I do be transformed into currents of bliss and feelings of adequacy?
These questions should stir the pot of contemplative thinking enough, that you might start to get curious, as I did, and start to wonder: How would my experience of life be different if I felt equipped to respond to anything that happens?
If you feel at all inspired by this last question, Inner Engineering might just be the support you need to shift your life from fear to bliss. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. And if you have access to other tools to help us find our way out, by going inward please share them in the comments. The mechanism of info delivery is unimportant. What matters is that we are learning to focus on our own ability to respond to the world rather than focusing on controlling the world itself.
There are many ways to get there, but the only way out is in.