ist eines der Bücher von Arnold Mindell, dass uns hilfreiche Tipps und Erklärungen liefert, um mit Hilfe von innerer Arbeit (prozessorientierte Meditation) störenden Erfahrungen, wie z.B. Konflikten oder Erkrankungen im Leben besser zurecht zu kommen.
is a book by Arnold Mindell, founder of Process Work that gives useful hints and explanations on how to deal with disturbing situations in life
Innerwork (working on yourself alone) is an essential method of Process Work that can give orientation in certain moments and helps to connect with a sense of meaning in our life. Instead of trying to get rid of disturbances the focus is on unfolding inner and outer experiences guiding our interactions with family members, teammates and friends and supporting our participation and leadership in projects within organizations or in our community. Innerwork can also help us to understand body symptoms and any other disturbances we face in our everyday life.
What is Innerwork? – Prozessorientierte Meditation
The goal of Innerwork is to find out what is going on inside of yourself and how this is connected to what is going on outside. It is not about changing yourself or working towards solving a problem or archiving a pre-defined goal. It is about becoming conscious about who you are in a certain moment and how you perceive. This embraces your momentary identity as well as aspects of yourself you are not conscious about yet, parts you don’t like about yourself, experiences in your everyday life that are disturbing, painful or difficult – everything you consider to be ’not me‘.
Process Work views any problem, disturbing thought, feeling or body symptom in a theological way. This means that all experiences, the liked and disliked ones are meaningful and purposeful. Exploring a disturbance instead of trying to get rid of it, the inherent unexpected meaning can appear and transform ourselves and the situation in a more satisfying and sustainable way; while trying to get rid of a problem we need a lot of energy to keep our boundaries of identity and the disturbance might come back in an unconscious moment, ‚attacking us from behind‘.
The theological perspective has its roots in Jungian analytical psychology. Jung stated an inherent tendency of individuals to grow towards wholeness using dream work as possibility to find structures supporting the personal development. The main question therefore is not ‚why‘ has this or that happened (looking backwards), but ‚what for‘ is this happening. Everybody wants to avoid pain and difficulty, and everybody fears parts of themselves, like, superficiality, being too powerful or powerless, being messy or too orderly. If these annoying and disturbing parts can be unfolded and enter our identity they transform and we feel more whole.
Everything that catches our attention while doing Innerwork shows us deeper parts that we haven’t considered yet and leads us to greater richness and fullness in life. If I do Innerwork I am more aware of what I am doing in a certain moment and who (which part of me) is doing it.
Basic Methods of Innerwork
A basic method of Innerwork is to explore what you identify with, and where your focus is in a certain moment; f.e. on inner thoughts or feelings. A second step is to widen your perception towards signals that are in the margins of your perception, something that is not quiet conscious. These are e.g. little movements of your body, your posture, and face expression. These are called double signals, which are signals that happen unintentionally and don’t go along with what you identify with in a certain moment. Also body symptoms, moods, inner voices, thoughts and pictures that are not intended as well as what you hear and see in your environment. It could also be a situation you face in your everyday life at work or within your family, or a conflict with somebody that comes to your mind. All these experiences you don’t identify as ‚me‘ are possibilities to unfold with Innerwork and gain awareness of the bigger picture that includes your momentary identity as well as everything you don’t identify with. Disturbing experiences can be an incredible gift, when we can own their energy in the background. It is not about taking on the disturbing figure and e.g. become mean, but it is about finding the deeper sense of what is disturbing, a person, an event, a body symptom.
Innerwork with a Body Symptom
Putting my work aside focussing on my right shoulder and arm I sensed numbness in my arm and stiffness in my shoulder, but the arm was also unintentionally moving slightly. When I focussed on that movement very slowly for some time I felt a kind of being in an imbalance. Instead of trying to get back centred in my body I followed this experience further; the left arm of my body felt relaxed and easily moving, while the right felt like not being part of me. Then an image emerged from that body experience: a bird with one wing. So I followed that impression together with moving my body in order to find out more about the quality of that experience. Me, the bird, was flying and to do so, I needed to change my balance point from the centre of my belly towards the left side. I moved through the room visualizing that I am flying with one wing highly up in the sky.
What has been useful and meaningful in that brief exercise?
Even though this was simple, my point of view changed fundamentally. I often sense a pain in my shoulder and my arm getting numb. The usual pattern is to ignore the pain and continue what I am doing or working on or trying to get rid of the disturbance by taking pain killers. Exploring the experience itself and realizing I am a bird with one wing that still can fly in a different way, various insights emerged. One was about disability: Working on a project on disability I realize that disability is about a differing ability, something beyond the ordinary, mainstream. And that it would be interesting to do further research on how we label people with disabilities and what disability means to them. Another aspect was that shifting my inner balance helps to access new patterns and step out of old ones, somewhere beyond the ordinary. This helps me to deal with challenges in life differently, to try out new ways of thinking about a problem – shifting my perspective. So actually the pain, which is very unpleasant on one level, helps me to access a perspective, where I can take difficult moments more relaxed – when inhabiting the bird with one wing flying high above the ground I have an overview in distressed moments with my kids or at work and then think about what to do from that perspective.
In summary the symptom or random body experience is a diversity issues within oneself. We identify with one side only, which for me in this example was to stay centred, to concentrate on my work tasks and to look like “everybody else”. Then there are other parts present, which show up in an unpleasant way, e.g. shoulder pain. Exploring unconscious movements or symptoms can lead towards new and unexpected qualities. Symptoms therefore are not necessarily bad only, but holding a creative process wanting to emerge.
Innerwork in Relationship
I met with a friend and colleague talking about a recent conflict. Both of us were bringing in our thoughts strongly, but we were trying to solve the situation in a friendly way. Great first step, but it took us nowhere besides being tense.
Focussing on myself I sense a grounded stability in my feet while the upper body was swinging slightly, connected with a quality of looseness. Staying with that body experience the image of a reed with strong roots, that cannot be pulled up and has got a very flexible and soft top came to my mind – a reed swayed by the wind and moving in all directions. Imagining that I am a reed that is moved by this conversation I realized that I am deeply grounded and can trust that whatever is moving me in this conflict I can stay present. I can let go holding and protecting myself and open up to feeling and being touched. I can connect to my friend even in difficult or controversial situations. This helps me to not just react, when I feel disturbed or hurt, but to stay interested in her as well as in me. The experience of the reed brings an attitude of effortless and unimpressed presence. It also helps me to not just be kind and friendly, but trust, when we bring in all parts of ourselves, that we will be connected through a deep feeling sense and find a consensus.
Through unfolding an inner experience which was unintentionally happening to me the atmosphere between us changed. My friend could soften and stop reacting against the unconscious stability or force she sensed in me and open up in a more feeling way.
In summary, unfolding subtle tendencies in us within a conversation or conflict can help to change the atmosphere. This doesn`t necessarily mean the outer conflict disappears, but helps us to deal with the difficulty in relationship. The Innerwork helps us to be less one-sided and be more aware of what is going on between us in a certain moment.
Innerwork helps to find a meta-position
Innerwork is also important for any facilitator whether we work with individuals, groups or world issues. It is an effective way to keep a meta-position, a place where we have an overview, of what is going on in the clients as well as in the field we are working in. It is also helpful to intervene and support our clients from within. That means if we remain open to what we experience in ourselves and unfold it, we can use the awareness to understand what happens in a therapy session.