Friday, June 18, 2010
I've been reading an interesting book by a psychologist named Laurel Mellin. Called "The Pathway" it is a book that tries to help people find what they want the most, what she calls "life's sweetest awards." What I have loved about this book is the author's insistence that we don't find those rewards by looking outside ourselves to external solutions. Those external things that we try to use to make ourselves happy generally don't work. Sometimes because they are inherently destructive, and sometimes because in our desperation, we simply can't limit our use of them. So no matter what they are they end up as "bad news."
So we are out of balance, feeling sad, angry, guilty, or fearful, and we reach outside to things that might be good, serving others, working, but we go to excess and we stay a mess. Or we reach outside to things that numb but don't help, such as alcohol or food, and we stay a mess.
Mellin believes that the way we get back in balance, and find what we need, is to go inside, to look of internal solutions. Often the reason we don't go inside is because we have neglected the inner life, so that when we do go inside, there is nothing there. Or it is a space so full of emotional junk that we cannot find nurture and comfort in that place.
Mellin suggests that we take time to nurture that inner place, which she calls, fittingly, the sanctuary. She says that we need to do some house cleaning. Take out the emotional trash, "clean he cobwebs off a nurturing inner voice," repair the disconnects between ourselves and, well, ourselves. In short, we need to be lovingly connected to our self, intimate with our self.
But not just our self, also "spirituality." Being connected with the spiritual, with God, being "intimate" with God. Becoming intimate with the sacred, is something else that happens when we go within to the core of who we are. There we find God, and as we are open to that presence we learn to love the sacred, and be loved by the sacred.
I have been using many of Mellin's ideas in my own life. But what I realized the other day is that this concept has been around a long time. This idea, that we go inside, to the heart, that we connect there with God and our true self, and thus find joy, and intimacy with others, has been around - well at least since Jesus said "Love God, with all your heart soul mind and strength, and love your neighbor AS YOURSELF".
I like the idea of being what Mellin calls "an intimacy catcher" - being so in touch with my God and my self that I can allow others in, that I can catch those opportunities for intimacy, for love, as they come along -- in the smile of a child, in the laughter of a friend. I'm still working on it! But hopeful.