Turning Inside Out

I am beginning to get it. The ultimate ingredient for really getting things off my mind is to nurture the part of me that lives from the inside out.

Now, when I say, “I’m beginning to get it,” please keep in mind that I’ve been “beginning to get it” for at least 50 years, consciously, and perhaps for millennia before that. It seems the nature of this earthly challenge is to recognize the value of focus on the inner life amidst an outer one that is so easily all-encompassing, on so many levels. It indeed makes no sense to “go inside” if the physical, mental, and emotional senses are what I’m hooked into. But there is a “beyond that” or “beneath that” or “inside that” which I have experienced as very real—more so in impact and energy than any of what I think, feel, and touch.

Lest you think this is only an essay about the spiritual life, I can assure you I have found very practical reasons to operate on the working hypothesis that there’s more of me to me than I know. One way is in trying to resolve a paradox that I have grappled with for many years—how much do I “let things happen” as they might, trusting that the world and my life in it are flowing onward in a natural way; and how much should I set my own goals and objectives, and march toward them with conscious determination and effectiveness?

I have discovered there is no answer to that, as long as I have that question. And I only have that question when I have been ignoring my own inner quiet place for too long. When I let go of my attention on this world and let myself drop back into the subtler and larger places I have access to, in meditation, contemplation, and simple reflective moments, the questions fade away. I find myself in the paradoxical state of surrendering to a larger flow and consciously creating my next directions and outcomes. It’s like I’m being breathed, but I’m also what’s breathing.

There are times for me to let things just show up, and respond. There are times for me to make it up and make it happen. I just need to pay attention to the music. And when I do, it’s all the same dance.

–David Allen

This essay appeared in David Allen’s Productive Living Newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. David,

    Thank you for this. It actually came during on-gonig struggles that I have with these very things. Although I don’t yet understand how this all works, I appreciate you writing about it and keeping it in my consciousness. 🙂

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.