If we take a closer look at our life we can see that we live in two dimensions. We live in an outer dimension, the material world, with all our stuff, house, car, bank account, also including our job, status, relationships, even our physical body. The other dimension is the inner dimension, our state of mind.
Which state is more important in determining our quality of life? Inner or outer? Inner. Where do people devote most of their attention and time to develop, inner or outer? Outer.
There is nothing wrong with creating a comfortable life on the outside, but if you do not also nurture and develop the inner life you won't enjoy the outer as much and will miss out on the amazing potential that human life offers.
Suppose you could live a life with lots of money but your mind was anxious and angry; or you could be poor but your mind was contented, peaceful, happy and full of love. Which would you choose?
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
Henry David Thoreau
Fortunately, nurturing the inner dimension does not preclude developing the outer. We simply have not been taught how to nurture and manage our mind to live the full potential of life. We were only told to get a good education so we could get a good job and make money and support a family. And also buy lots of toys and take vacations that exhaust us.
If you want a clue to what the true nature of life is, we can look at the most pure state of a human being, a baby. Everyone has seen a baby look up and smile at them. It's not the same as an adult smile. A baby’s smile expresses enormous love and joy, like their whole body is a little ball of bliss.
Of course a baby also cries and screams but only when it feels real pain. Pain can overshadow a baby’s bliss. A baby has about 5 common problems that cause pain: being too cold, wet, hungry, tired, or having gas pain. A baby will cry until somebody fixes the problem. When the problem causing pain is fixed, the baby goes back to the default state which is blissful.
The baby needs a reason to be unhappy, but happiness and love come from the inside for no reason. Right now are you too cold, wet, tired, hungry or have gas pain? If not, are you blissful? Our inner nature has not changed from the time we were babies. If we are not experiencing that bliss something must be blocking it.
From the time we are born our mind begins recording our experiences. Many experiences cause feelings of fear, anger, grief, rejection, humiliation etc. Often we repress these uncomfortable feelings and these emotional memories get stored inside. Pleasurable experiences also are recorded and these create cravings to have the experience again. A desire in moderation doesn't bother us much, but a craving can chronically trouble the mind.
Modern life has taken a heavy toll on our mind. Even if you’ve been lucky enough to live in a peaceful place and not fought in a war or had other trauma, how many hours have you exposed your mind to intense violence and suspense from watching TV, movies and video games? All those images and the associated emotions and tensions have been stored inside you.
Disturbing images and negative emotions in memory will play-back in your mind or lurk in the subconscious. When vague and mixed together we call it anxiety.
In Sanskrit, the oldest language, there is a word that means "impression in the mind". The word is “Samskara”. The english word ‘scar’ is very close in both sound and meaning. A scar is a mark on the body left behind by a wound. A samskara is a mark left behind in the mind by intense experience.
The accumulation of impressions, the samskaras, cause negative emotions, aversions and cravings to chronically come up in the mind. Depending on the extent of the accumulation, you may still feel some of the joy of your nature come up from time to time, but for most people, the samskaras totally dominate.
Ask yourself where you'd like to be in 10 years in terms of your contentment in life and what it will take to get there. More "Outer" accumulation, or more "Inner" development?
Long ago deep meditation was only for the serious spiritual seeker who wanted enlightenment. One had to join a monastery or ashram to learn deep meditation. Today, everyone needs to meditate daily just to cope with the onslaught of stress the mind must deal with.
Opportunities to learn techniques for deep meditation are readily available. If you don't think you have the time to dissolve the stress in your mind, consider how many hours per day you surf the internet, watch TV & movies, play video games and read the news which changes little from day to day.
The need for profound mind-body practices has never been greater. Some practices are more effective and work faster than others. Don't settle for only a little yoga or the Relaxation techniques called Guided meditations on phone apps. Relaxing with guided meditations and doing any yoga is definitely a good 1st step, but freeing the mind of impressions takes more depth.