Exploring Your Inner Landscape

Exploring Your Inner Landscape

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This article explores the connection between our inner landscape and our outer world through the lens of mindfulness. Through guided meditations, exercises and journal prompt, we explore how to cultivate awareness of our body, mind and emotions.

Table of Contents

What’s in it for you:

  1. Explore the concept of ‘inner landscapes’
  2. Learn how to explore your inner landscape
  3. Understand what happens when we don’t know who we are
  4. Discover how to change your life

Benefits of this guide:

  1. Learn how to connect with your inner self
  2. Learn how to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings
  3. Learn how to develop an understanding of your inner world
  4. Learn how to improve your relationships

Related: Instructions for Body Scan Meditation

Source: Alo Yoga

Exploring Your Inner Landscape

I think it’s really easy to fall into the trap of intellectualizing this material. There are some really interesting concepts and principles associated with it. But if what you’re doing is thinking about mindfulness rather than practising it, your relationship to mindfulness won’t be a deep one and you’ll miss out on the many gifts that it can bring to your life.

It can be hard at first both to find the time and to permit yourself to spend time in this way, but I promise the work you put in, the discipline this practice requires of us, and the sacrifices that you might have to make to find time for it, are truly worthwhile.

In the last guide, we focused on the mind-body connection, and you’re given some exercises designed to help you focus on, and get to know your body a little bit. Well, as you now know, mindfulness of the body is the first foundation of mindfulness because our bodies are so integral to all of our experiences.

When we pay attention, we can see how much life and energy flow through the body, electrifying us from the inside out, guiding us into behaviour, and reflecting our inner state of being. And for example, maybe at some point this week you felt tender towards and connected to someone that you care about.

If you were paying attention to what was happening in your body, you might have noticed a softening around the eyes and in the chest and a desire to be close or make physical contact with that individual. This basic drive for affiliation and connection which is innate in all of us becomes, or at least can become apparent to us first and most directly in the body.

And this is true for any experience we have that has an emotional quality to it, which is pretty much every experience.

But if that surprises you, what I just said about most experiences being saturated with feelings, don’t be too alarmed. Many physical sensations are easy to miss, and some even lie under the radar of normal conscious perception.

But when we bring a quality of gentle mindfulness to the body, these sensory experiences that sometimes feel vague can begin to show themselves with greater clarity and presence.

A great benefit of this practice is the way it helps to bring sensations, emotions, and habituated thinking patterns up to the level of conscious attention.

Having these elements rise into consciousness helps set the stage for increased self-awareness on our part and gives us the ability to evolve mental habits or behaviours that aren’t working for us. After all, we can’t change what we can’t see.

And that’s where we’re headed in this guide. We’re going to keep the lens of attention on our internal experience and begin to look more deeply at our emotional lives and the patterns of thinking that sustain them.

As we peel back some layers here, I think you’ll see that physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts are deeply intertwined. And while these aspects of ourselves are independent, each influences the other and works together to create our perceived reality.

But it’s important to remember that you’re not a victim of these forces. Bringing awareness to our emotions and getting to know the conditioned mind are crucial first steps that help us shift away from patterns and habits that don’t serve our well-being.

The exercises and activities included in this guide will help give you a sense of your emotional comfort zones, and you’ll learn which emotions are easy for you to be with and which emotions you tend to avoid or reject.

They’ll also help you uncover some of the habitual thinking patterns that may be creating dysfunction in your life. For example, maybe you tend to catastrophize when something in life doesn’t go your way, or perhaps it’s like you take all the blame for any conflict that arises in your life, even when it’s not your fault.

By the time this guide ends, I think you’ll see just how gifted we all are at getting in our way, but you’ll also see options for relating to your internal experiences differently, and you’ll have some new tools and resources to help you live with greater balance and ease.

Explore Your Inner Landscape: An Introduction to Self-Discovery

To explore your inner landscape, you need to first understand yourself. This means understanding who you are, where you come from, how you got here, and why you do what you do. It also means understanding your strengths and weaknesses, your values and beliefs, your dreams and goals, and your fears and anxieties.

Exploring Your Inner Landscape Exercise

With this guide, we are focusing on the relationship that exists between our bodies, our thoughts and our emotions. There are two activity challenges outlined below. I hope that, along with the content and questions posed earlier, you will have at least the tiniest taste of just how limiting the conditioned mind can be, and the freedom that arises from a full, loving presence.

1.     Listen to the Awareness of Breath guided sitting meditation attached below and keep notes about your experience and what you notice mentally, physically or emotionally before and after doing this practice. Try and complete this meditation at least 3 times this week.

2.     Reflect on a recent situation that was/is challenging for you in some way.  Describe what makes it challenging for you and your current strategies for dealing with it. Consider what might shift if you brought any one of the 7 attitudinal foundations to help you face your situation. Notice how your body and mind feel when these attitudes are present; compare this to how you feel when they are not.

Breathing Exercises

Here is a helpful form for keeping track of your activities and what you notice along the way:

What am I committing to do?           

Activity One:

Activity Two:

Activity Three:                                

DayWhat I didObservations
weekly activity record form

Checking in: What have I learned about myself this week? What would I like to continue doing? What would I like to shift (if anything) based on what I noticed about myself?

Instructions for Sitting Meditation to explore the inner landscape

The heart of formal meditation practice is called “sitting meditation”, or simply “sitting”. When we practice sitting, we are making a special time and place for non-doing, for simply being still.

We consciously adopt an alert and relaxed body posture so that we can feel relatively comfortable without moving, and then we do our best to stay grounded in each present moment while noticing various aspects of our experience.

You have already experienced small doses of what occurs during sitting meditations in some of the demonstrations we have provided throughout the course.

Below are a few tips to help get you started.

Exploring Your Inner Landscape step #1: Posture

It helps to adopt an erect and dignified posture, with your head, neck, and back aligned vertically. This allows the breath to flow most easily. It is also a physical manifestation of the inner attitudes of dignity, self-acceptance, and alert attention that we are cultivating (remember the attitudinal foundations!).

We usually practice sitting meditation either on a chair or on the floor. If you choose a chair, choose one that has a straight back and that allows your feet to be flat on the floor. Depending on your abilities/limitations, it is often recommended that you sit away from the back of the chair so that your spine is self-supporting.

But leaning against the back of the chair is also fine.

If you choose to sit on the floor, do so on a firm, thick cushion which raises your buttocks off the floor three to six inches (a pillow folded over once or twice does nicely; or you can purchase a meditation cushion, sometimes called a zafu, specifically for sitting).

There are several cross-legged sitting postures and kneeling postures that some people use when they sit on the floor. Depending on how flexible your hips and knees, and ankles are, you may wish to adopt one of these.

The main points to keep in mind about your posture are to try to keep the back, neck, and head aligned vertically, to relax the shoulders, and to do something comfortable with your hands. You can try placing them on the knees or allowing them to rest in the lap.

Exploring Your Inner Landscape step #2: Initial Focus on Breath

Once we have settled comfortably into our posture, standard sitting practice is to bring attention to our breathing.  This doesn’t have to be complicated, we are just attempting to keep our attention anchored to the sensations of the breath.  We feel it come in, we feel it go out.

We stay connected to what is happening in the present, moment by moment, breath by breath. It sounds simple, and it is. Full awareness of the in-breath, full awareness of the out-breath. Letting the breath just happen, observing it, feeling all the sensations associated with it.

As you’ve heard me say multiple times, it is simple, but it is not easy. You can probably sit in front of a TV set or at your desk for hours without giving it a thought.

But when you try sitting in stillness with nothing to watch but your breath, nothing to entertain you and no place to go, the first thing you will probably notice is that you can’t pay attention to the breath for very long. And maybe you won’t want to.

If you think you are sitting in stillness with nary a thought to distract you, you are likely so lost in thought that you don’t even know what you are thinking.

But don’t worry, this is inevitable. Over time and with discipline, you will begin to notice that your attention has left the breath, and you will begin to see the frequency of your wandering mind. 

Exploring Your Inner Landscape step #3: Deepening Practice

Once we settle into this place of more distant observation of our body/mind the work of self-observation gets particularly interesting and fruitful. Normally every time the mind moves, the body follows. If the mind is restless, the body is restless. If the mind wants a drink, the body goes to the kitchen sink or the refrigerator.

If the mind says, “This is boring,” then before you know it, the body is up and looking around for the next thing to do to keep the mind happy. It also works the other way around.

If the body feels the slightest discomfort, it will shift to be more comfortable or it will call on the mind to find something to distract from the pain.

At this point, you might be wondering why it is that your mind is so quick to be bored and why your body is so restless and uncomfortable. You might wonder what’s behind your impulse to fill each moment with something. Or what is behind your need to be entertained whenever you have an “empty” moment?

Or why do you feel so compelled to jump up and get going, to get back to doing and being busy? The question of what drives the body and mind to reject being still is a good one. But in practising meditation, we don’t try to answer these questions.

Rather, we just observe the impulse to get up or the thoughts that come into our minds. And instead of jumping up and doing whatever the mind decides is next on the agenda, we gently but firmly bring our attention back to the breath, and continue to watch it, moment by moment.

This inclination to wonder why the mind is like this is natural, but in the practice of mindfulness meditation, we are less concerned with the mysteries of the mind and are instead attempting to focus our energies on learning to accept each moment as it is without reacting to how it is.

By doing so, you are training your mind to be less reactive and more stable. You’re making each moment count. You’re taking each moment as it comes, not valuing anyone above any other. In this way, you are cultivating your natural ability for concentration and focus.

By repeatedly bringing your attention back to the breath each time it wanders off, concentration builds and deepens, similar to how muscles develop by repetitively lifting weights.

Mindfulness meditation doesn’t involve pushing thoughts away or trying to stop our thoughts as they cascade through the mind. We are simply making room for them, observing them as thoughts, and letting them be, using the breath as our anchor for observing, and continuing to remind ourselves to stay focused and calm.

At the same time, you’re also developing patience and practising being non-judgmental. You’re not giving yourself a hard time because your mind left the breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, you simply and matter-of-factly return it to the breath, gently but firmly.

Our capacity to bring more generalized mindful awareness to our daily life requires regular sitting practice and a kind and spacious heart. If you can commit to sitting with awareness every day, you will gradually find that you are more present, focused and centred throughout your day!

Step-by-step process:

1. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. If sitting on the floor, make sure your legs are crossed at the ankles.

2. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths.

3. When you feel relaxed, begin to notice how your body feels. Notice any tension or discomfort.

4. Now imagine yourself lying down on a bed of soft grass. Feel the coolness of the grass beneath you.

5. Imagine that you are floating above the ground. You are weightless and free.

6. As you float higher, look around you. See the sky and clouds. Hear birds chirping and insects buzzing.

7. Continue floating until you reach the top of the atmosphere. There, you are surrounded by space.

8. Slowly descend back to earth. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face.

9. Once you have returned to the ground, open your eyes. Take several slow, deep breaths.

10. Repeat steps 1-9 three times.

11. After completing the meditation, spend some time reflecting on what you experienced. What did you notice? How did you feel? Did anything surprise you?

12. Write down your thoughts and feelings about the experience.

13. Share your reflections with others who may benefit from them.

14. Thank you for reading!

How to Explore Your Inner Landscape?

You have an inner landscape. It’s just waiting to be explored. Discover what lies within!

The human mind has many layers, and each layer contains different thoughts, feelings, memories, and beliefs. Some people call this inner world “the subconscious.” Others refer to it as “the unconscious.” Still, others use other terms, such as “the spiritual realm,” “the collective unconscious,” or “the soul.” Regardless of which term you choose, there is no doubt that we all have an inner landscape.

Start with a journal or notebook.

A good place to start exploring your inner landscape is by writing down your thoughts and feelings. This process will help you understand yourself better and gain insight into how you think and feel. If you prefer to write digitally, try using a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Write down everything that comes into your mind.

Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; just let your thoughts flow freely. Try not to censor anything. Just write whatever comes to mind.

Don’t judge yourself. Just let it flow.

If you’re feeling stuck, try writing down everything that’s going through your head. Write down any ideas, feelings, memories, or questions that come up. Then, take some time to think about them. What do they mean to you? Why do they matter? What would happen if you acted on them?

When you feel stuck, ask yourself why.

Once you’ve written down your thoughts, you’ll notice that there are patterns in how you think. These patterns will help you understand where you’re coming from. They also give your insight into what you need to work on.

Ask questions about your thoughts.

If you’re having trouble understanding why you feel the way you do, ask yourself some questions. What’s going through my mind right now? Why am I feeling this way? What does this mean about me? What would happen if I acted differently?

The Power of Self-Discovery

Discovering your inner landscape is an important step towards living a more fulfilling life. Read on to see how you can start exploring yours today!

The first step in discovering your inner landscape is to learn how to recognize your feelings. Once you’ve learned this skill, you can begin to explore your thoughts, memories, beliefs, and values.

Start with a journal.

A good place to start is by writing down what you’re feeling right now. You might also find it helpful to write down some of your past experiences. This will help you understand yourself better and gain insight into your emotions.

Write down what you’re grateful for.

Once you’ve written down what you’re feeling, think about what you’re grateful for in your life. It’s easy to forget to appreciate the things we take for granted, so make sure to write them down as well.

Think about what makes you happy.

You might find that writing down what you’re grateful for helps you feel better. If you’re struggling with negative thoughts, try focusing on something positive instead.

Ask yourself questions like “What am I good at?” or “Who am I?”

It’s easy to focus on the things we aren’t good at, but there’s no reason to dwell on them. Instead, think about the things you do well and who you are as a result. This will help you discover new strengths and talents.

Take time to reflect on your past.

Start by taking some time to reflect on your history. What did you learn from your experiences? How has your perspective changed since then? You might find that you’ve grown into a stronger version of yourself.

5 Tips for Finding Your Purpose

Discovering your purpose is one of life’s most important journeys. In this article, we share five tips on how to start discovering yours.

Discovering your purpose in life is an exciting journey that will change your perspective on everything. It can also be scary, especially when you’re unsure where to begin. Here are five steps to take to discover your purpose.

Start with the End in Mind.

1. Start by asking yourself what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. What would you do differently? How would you spend your time? Who would you help?

2. Write down your answers.

3. Now think about what you love doing.

4. Think about who you admire.

5. Ask yourself why you admire them.

6. Write down your answers again.

7. Look at the common themes between your answers.

8. You might find that you have more than one answer.

9. If so, write down each answer separately.

10. Choose the answer that feels right to you.

11. Keep going until you feel satisfied.

12. Repeat as necessary.

13. Once you’ve found your purpose, make sure you live it every day.

Find Your Passion.

We’re not talking about finding your passion because you want to become rich. We’re talking about finding your passion so that you can live a meaningful life.

Ask Yourself Why You Do What You Do.

If you ask yourself why you do what you do, you’ll find out what your true purpose is. It’s easy to think that you’re doing something just because everyone else does it, but that’s not necessarily true.

Be Honest About Your Goals.

To discover your purpose, first, figure out what you want. You might need to take some time to reflect on your past experiences and see where you’ve been successful. Then, make sure you’re clear on what you want to achieve in the future.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

Once you’ve figured out what you want, you’ll need to find ways to do it. This means making decisions based on your values and priorities. It’s also important to keep an open mind when considering new opportunities.

Source: Cat Trumpet

A Few Important Terms Mentioned in This Guide Are as Follows:

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is defined as being aware of what is happening at any given moment, without judgment. To practice mindfulness, we need to become aware of our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and actions. We can then choose how to respond to these experiences. When we are mindful, we are not caught up in our thoughts and emotions, nor do we react automatically to them. Instead, we observe our thoughts and emotions and make choices about how to act upon them.

2. Meditation

Meditation is a way to cultivate mindfulness. There are many different types of meditation, including sitting meditation, walking meditation, mantra meditation, and yoga. Each type of meditation cultivates mindfulness in its unique way. Sitting meditation involves focusing on one thing at a time while walking meditation focuses on moving through space. Mantra meditation uses sound to focus attention, and yoga focuses on physical movement.

3. Concentration

Concentration is the mental discipline of focusing on one object or idea. Concentration helps us to stay focused on something until it becomes automatic. Concentration is often used in sports, music, art, and meditation.

4. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. It is also known as introspection. Introspection is the opposite of self-absorption. Self-absorption occurs when we only think about ourselves, and ignore everything else around us. Self-awareness means paying attention to both external stimuli and internal processes.

5. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s point of view. It is the capacity to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Empathy is a powerful tool for developing compassion. Compassion is the desire to help others who are suffering. It is the wish to alleviate their pain and distress.

6. Acceptance

Acceptance is the willingness to let go of negative thoughts and feelings. It is the ability to stop fighting reality and live in the present moment. Acceptance is the first step toward change. If we accept things as they are, we have no choice but to move forward.

7. Gratitude

Gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for what we already have. It is the recognition that we have enough even though we may want more. Gratitude is the foundation of happiness. Happiness comes from appreciating what we already have.

Also Read: Deepening The Mind/Body Connection

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