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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January's Theme: "Self"
Volume 7 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265

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Our Inner Self
by Phil Kotofskie

Have you ever stubbed your toe or bumped your head on something? Haven't we all? Inattention opens the door to pain. Reactive thoughts about pain create emotional turmoil. Hurt and angry, lost in our thoughts, our emotions build like a thunderstorm. We're off to the races, causing pain in others, especially loved ones. Ah, the gift of giving!

In my experience, our focus on thoughts—rather than reality—produces inner separation. In other words, we lose touch with our inner self, our inner guidance. We look around. Perhaps, we think, he or she knows what I should do? Others may have great suggestions and advice, but the answer to whether something suits us comes from within.

Quiet, gentle inner guidance makes way for selfish desires. For example, the instant I consider eating a third piece of cake my "inner rudder" (as I like to call it) suggests moderation. Perhaps I feel like gorging on cake, so I eat it anyway. No problem. My inner rudder will guide me across the stormy sea of indigestion! We may consider our inner counsel or ignore it. We are free to ignore the shining paths before us, around us, within us; we are free to remain confused.

Attention on my thoughts and senses is the only way I've found to live without the confusion created by inner separation. I am by no means finished working with myself. However, when I recall myself five, ten, twenty years ago, I know it's been worth it. Attention on my thoughts, actions and feelings has born fruit.

During my divorce in the mid-eighties, I resolved to become a "good man." God could do what God needed to do, the Devil could do what the Devil needed to do, and Phil would do what Phil needed to do. In turning from this dichotomy (light against dark, good against bad), I inadvertently stepped onto the sweet spot of my life path.

I thought, Why am I angry with people who are not trying to anger me?

From this starting point, I watched myself become impatient with others. Why? I thought at each new discovery about myself. Life answered with challenging situations, which tested me ever more deeply. Patience and compassion grew as years passed, along with my ability to recognize confusion and wait, rather than react. For example, if a man approached me on the street and asked for money, I acted according to the deep, quiet feeling from within. My habitual thoughts about what to do still came. However, countless joyful, surprising exchanges taught me to be aware of those habitual thoughts, but avoid acting on them. My inner self offered win-win options regardless of the situation or person.

My thoughts about a person's motives and the reality sometimes differed. People who irritated me often barely noticed me. People who irritated me on purpose slaved under the tyranny of their inner fantasies. How could I not feel compassion? Each of us lived the same drama; we just read from different pages of the script. Constant awareness of my thought mischief, my actions, fueled my self-exploration. I learned to look for the responsible party in the mirror first. "Yes, it was me," I'd say for the thousandth time, laughing at my stubborn refusal to see.

Watching my thoughts taught me how anger forms and grows. Physically sensing the other person and myself calmed my emotions. My anger had been masking life's wonders. We humans are fascinating.

Life can be experienced only through experience. We nod our heads in agreement, but do we follow through? It's up to each of us whether to answer the "inner phone" and learn about ourselves. "Inner phone calls" cause discomfort when we ignore inner counsel. Doing, doing, doing temporarily masks discomfort; perhaps we need time to process physical and emotional trauma? In each pause, however, we feel our fears. Knowing how what's best for me fits in harmony with everybody, it's funny how I still don't always heed my inner counsel instantly. Ignore-ance proves a persistent habit, one we can dissolve by paying attention.

Let's try an inner chat.

While reading these words, what are you thinking? Simply observe your thoughts. If you feel yourself analyzing, watch yourself analyze. If you feel yourself agreeing, watch your thoughts. Oh, not thinking anything related to this article? You must be human! Regardless of what you think, simply observe your thoughts. Our thinking tends toward craziness. Please be patient and kind with yourself. You are worth it.

That's it for thinking. Observe thoughts, trust inner guidance and live. We can't change our fundamental thinking—such attempts add to our abundant supply of habitual thoughts. However, thought observation prepares us for change. Our inner self or spirit, by whatever name, guides us beyond our control.

Our bodies respond to thoughts with bodily sensations. While watching your thoughts, experience the full range of your senses. Our bodies live in harmony with physical reality. We live in fine examples of unity and oneness: our humble bodies, the jewels of physical existence. For this reason, observing one's body creates subtle separation where there was none. I've played with this a lot. I know I'm experiencing body rather than observing when I settle down and feel comfortable regardless of what's happening around me.

Since our bodies are physical, they have no natural barriers to physical reality. Thus physical bodies of any form know how to thrive in any conditions, including death. Although my physical body does not yet want to die, the subatomic particles making up my body know they will continue in other forms. No big deal.

The essence that creates me also knows it continues after a physical body dies. When I'm comfortable in an aging body that does not want to die, I'm experiencing my physical body, thoughts and essence in harmony. Then the fun begins.

I'm sharing from experience, but the only way to discover truth from your perspective is to explore. When you realize you've gone off on yet another thought tangent, return to watching thoughts, experiencing your body. (This happens continually.) Refining attention proves simple, but quite challenging. Fortunately our inner self never sleeps. Without fail, our answers arise from within. Do I trust enough to pay attention? Do I trust enough to try what comes, to allow change? Do you?

May you find adventure and enjoyment to last a lifetime and beyond.

Phil Kotofskie is a longtime student of life. His sharing is based on years of working with himself in diverse jobs and relationships ranging from Army Soldier to Overnight Grocery Stocker, from spouse to stranger. His specialty is everyday life as a spiritual path.

Phil is a Reiki Master who offers healing assistance and a musician who plays didgeridoo and West African drums. He is currently finishing a book with the Stones that guides the reader to answer the question "Who am I?"

Phil lives in Tucson, Arizona with Popurrie and the Stones and can be contacted via email.

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