Connecting to Your Inner World

“Willed introversion, in fact, is one of the classic implements of creative genius and can be employed as a deliberate device. It drives the psychic energies into depth and activates the lost continent of unconscious infantile and archetypal images. The result, of course, may be a disintegration of consciousness more or less complete (neurosis, psychosis: the plight of spellbound Daphne); but on the other hand, if the personality is able to absorb and integrate the new forces, there will be experienced an almost superhuman degree of self-consciousness and masterful control. It cannot be described, quite, as an answer to any specific call. Rather, it is a deliberate, terrific refusal to respond to anything but the deepest, highest, richest answer to the as-yet-unknown demand of some waiting void within: a kind of total strike, or rejection of the offered terms of life, as a result of which some power of transformation carries the problem to a plane of new magnitudes, where it is suddenly and finally resolved.”

This is a quote from Joseph Campbell’s famous book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. I like to read it slowly, sentence by sentence, and let every word sink in. What Campbell is describing is the direction which I am constantly going with myself and my clients. There is always more depth. There is always more to be gained. It is the ultimate rebellion. In order to discover yourself, you need to rebel, you need to reject the offered terms of life. You need to rebel completely, utterly. You have to see that the cultural notions of who you should be are the biggest impediments to truly knowing yourself, truly being free. Then you must direct your attention to the void that lies within you; not once, not twice, but every moment of every day, as often as you can. 

Most people have never had an experience of the void. Their bodies instinctively know that it’s there, but their minds try to skirt around it, pretending that it’s not really there. But skirting around it is the worst thing you can do. By avoiding the void, you are avoiding yourself. The void is not the enemy. The void is your greatest asset. It is your gateway into a spiritual dimension, into the consciousness of love. Not romantic love, but true love. The mind, left to it’s own devices, will ruin your spirit. But the void will connect you to something far more profound; the energies of the earth and the energies of the universe that are not personal but spiritual, connected to all things. A timeless eternity lies within. But between your conscious mind and the void lies your unconscious, which will attempt to keep you from experiencing your own depth. It will fill your mind with stories and distractions and tell you that there is no reason for you to go within. It will tell you that there’s nothing to find in there. Then you will go back to your habitual patterns of distracting yourself. The void will again become the last priority. Onward goes the mind, to pizza, movies, Facebook, to-do lists, etc.

The reason that people avoid the void is because they are addicted to their identities and they don’t even realize it. The void has no identity. As Campbell says, “the result, of course, may be a disintegration of consciousness more or less complete.” Who wants to disintegrate their consciousness? What a horrible idea, right? But the people who would shudder at the thought of disintegrating their consciousness are the same people who might have thoughts like “I am my own worst enemy. I’m constantly thinking too much. What’s the purpose of all this, anyway?”

I don’t know about you, but that, to me, sounds like a consciousness that needs to be disintegrated. Why would anyone care to hold onto those types of thoughts and feelings? They don’t serve any useful function. They are garbage thoughts. Yet people think thoughts like this all the time. Some people are so bombarded by thoughts that they have no idea what they are actually thinking at any given time. This is a mind without direction. The void will lead the direction if you give it time, learn to sense yourself from inside it. As Campbell says, “if the personality is able to absorb and integrate the new forces, there will be experienced an almost superhuman degree of self-consciousness and masterful control.” 

My wife Meghan has joked with me in the past that I am a brainwasher. She’s right. I wash people’s brains. I help to clean them out. The brain needs regular maintenance, regular cleaning. But what I don’t do is put anything back in. That would be crossing a sacred boundary. It is not up to me what goes in someone’s mind. I don’t ever wish to replace their old ideas with new ideas. I want the inspiration to come from the void.

Sam Morris is the founder of Zen Warrior Training. In 1999, just after leading a bicycling trip for nine teenagers across the United States, Sam was in a car accident caused by a drunk driver which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Years of struggle from his condition forced him to experience over a dozen surgeries and to lie down flat on his back for over three years, two of which were in hospitals. Determined to not become the victim of his circumstances, Sam learned and created a system of mental and physical training based in Zen philosophy, meditation and somatic disciplines that healed his mind and body and brought him more vitality and clarity than he had before his injury. He created Zen Warrior Training as a means by which to inspire and teach people how to go beyond their limiting experiences and discover what's possible for their lives. Sam is a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator and individual and group life coach.