What Does 'Inner Work' Look Like?
On Monday I attended an event organized by the wonderful Gareth Gwyn of Let’s See Labs entitled “Sourcing Change from Within: The Role of Inner Work in Societal Evolution.” I had not felt well all day, but something told me that I needed to be there, and, as always, my inner voice/gut feeling was right. The event was held in an intimate space, and everyone who entered the room, entered with an air of openness to what the evening held in store. It was remarkable to be in a space where you could feel that everyone was there with a willingness to be surprised, challenged, and changed.
The event featured a panel of four individuals who had all taken steps in their lives to use the inner work of self-realization to bring about transformation in their lives. Eldra, who grew up immersed in gang life, realized how the events of his childhood led him to stop feeling and that had put him on a path of destruction, which he had to confront in prison and build a new life of understanding outside of destruction for himself. Aelia, who was abused by her father in her fundamentalist household, shifted her narrative to focus on healing and forgiveness. Nicole, who was diagnosed with a deadly cancer that left her without a reproductive system, was able to make sense of her suffering and use creativity to form new life in herself where death had previously inhabited. And Jesse, who had been a radicalizer of Jihadist ideologies
I sat in a deep listening mode. There were narratives that have stuck with me, like how we can be free even behind bars and others can see that, and how we need to invest in young people not shutting themselves off from love and feeling, and how there is a way to move from there is meaning in suffering as a hollow saying, to actually understanding and living the transformation that occurs in the midst of pain and loneliness. This to me was the deepest forms of uncovering and unlearning, and the embodiment of creating yourself to freedom. I thought about how we make sense of our lives through storytelling, and how powerful sharing their stories has become for these four individuals over the years. How the story they are telling really does contain blueprints for societal revolutions.
But this only happens when we start chipping away at the masks we wear. There was another gentleman there, a captivating black man, who runs a project called Ever Forward that helps individuals talk about what it is they show to the world, and all the other feelings and fears that are rarely shown. What I liked is that he didn’t say that these masks were bad - no, they are often for protection - but that we need to cultivate the spaces where we can take them off. I know there is a strong connection between the moments we can take them off and the ways that inner work shows up in our narratives.
As we prepare to launch our second cohort of this is my body, I’m looking forward to continuing that type of work.
You can watch the full footage of the panel here.