Have you ever felt reborn after a long death? You may interpret my question literally or not. My birthday, on December 31st, 2020, was my resurrection time after many things—things that actually have been fragile for years before COVID-19—finally collapsed, just like a tsunami wiped away small huts on the seashore. It was an uneasy process to rise up from darkness into light. From not wanting life at all into feeling purposeful again.
In this humble writing, I simply want to invite you who read this to take a moment, 10 minutes of your valuable time, to reflect and pause. Have we “gone home” today? I don’t mean to tell you to commute right now from your workplace to your shelter, house, apartment, or wherever you stay/live. Going home here is a mindful invitation to reread, redefine, relearn, and re-understand your inner meaning, your inner “home.”
I will explore two terms: inwardness vs outwardness. Let’s disentangle them one by one, piece by piece:
For many, we may have already discovered an untouched land within us, our terra incognita. And, even if we have found this piece of treasurable land within us, do we dare to explore it? Do we dare to plow and plant some beautiful seeds that grow the roots of trees within us?
Since birth, we are encouraged and even forced to keep busy, to stay occupied by tasks and responsibilities. We are rarely—and even— prohibited to “be" us instead. An example of this can be seen in the ceremony Tedak Siten (“stepping on the ground”) from a sub Javanese community in Indonesia. This ceremony is prepared by the family, and surrounding community, when the baby has learned to crawl and tries to begin walking. They place the baby before a few items that symbolize various occupations and, whichever item the baby chooses, decides what they will do for work when they grow up.
Before the baby can voice their mind or heart yet their future is decided. Who knows what they pick today might be different from what they are passionate about tomorrow or when they are 17 or 21? This is an extreme example yet I think the same propensity to predetermine what our life “should” be happens in many cultures.
Going home to our internal landscape may sound difficult but actually it’s simple. It may feel complicated because many of us have felt like we are printed and produced by a factory of social construction that demands us to do this and that without our consent. So, taking a 10-minute pause daily is the least we can do to go home, to rest, and to get to know ourselves better without letting others keep trespassing our boundaries.
Outwardness—indeed—is the opposite of inwardness. Indirectly, I have stated that when we only occupy ourselves with many things to do, we lose ourselves, we forget how to be us, authentically. And when this habituated, busy behavior is activated every day, especially from early childhood, the human who grows to be an adult no longer realizes that they have lost themselves before getting a chance to know themselves at all.
This outwardness, motion and action without contemplation, becomes one of the root causes of a long toxic chain in many relationships, including family relations, such as toxic parenthood and toxic marriage. Many children who were born from this kind of relationship have a big task to discover themselves and heal themselves before the chain of toxicity eats at their souls, their energy.
Lastly, think about a fish that is forced to live on the land. Will it stay alive? Can it breathe well? NO! Exactly! That is the simpler way to explain outwardness. Many of us have lived outside ourselves for a long time, proverbial fish out of water. Our society has even introduced this way of life since we were born, since the first time we could say our first word, since the first time we stepped on the ground.
“Peace begins with love, and love begins with peace,” said Sheikh Ninowy, a Syrian-American Sufi teacher. How can we find our inner light and build our inner peace without love to ourselves, right? We need to choose and begin inwardness as our way of life. And no rushing either. We can take time at whatever pace that’s suitable. I believe a 10-minute pause is a truly priceless way to take into account our daily investments. Everybody has different need, struggle, and suffering. When I just began my 10-minute pause in 2016, I chose to sit and observe my breath. Then, a year later I decided to close my eyes and turned on my 5 senses while exercising my breath. Two years later until now, I added mindfulness exercise by doing grounding and rooting to the place I am sitting, standing, or laying down. So, it's your call. You can pick and adjust whichever method suits you best as your 10-minute pause. For me, we might have different amounts of money or wealth, but we all get 24 hours in a day. And it depends on us to invest this time. Thich Nhat Hanh also reminded that meditation can be done anywhere and anytime, even in the middle of the busiest day and noisiest place, even on the crowded train and bus. Take your time, Beautiful Soul, you deserve it.
Isti Toq'ah is the 2022 Wellspring Fellow. Additionally, Isti is pursuing her dream of a Ph.D in Peace Education from UPEACE in Costa Rica and has launched a campaign for financial support. You can learn more about her Ph.D plans and how to support her here.