I’ve read enough spiritual books to get the crux about many things, and every passing day, I have to remind myself to move past consuming more information, to actually embodying the knowledge. To practice internalization.
Why? Because knowledge can only take us so far. But until we don’t actually believe what we’re told by experiencing it first hand, it’s all going to blow up in our face when there’s chaos around!
So, if you have a learning plan, I want you to start thinking about creating an absorption plan too.
There are of course many practical ways in which we can “do what we’re told”, but I’d like to share some lesser known tips and tricks to really assimilate everything we’re consuming.
Absorption Plan : 5 Ways to Internalize The Truth
Before we start, I want to share a beautiful analogy that I heard in a recent spiritual retreat. Internalization was explained as similar to eating.
If we put food in our mouth, but spit it out, it has no value to us. This is what we typically do, when we’re mindlessly scrolling on social media. Nothing really goes in, we just zone out and gain little to no value.
If we went ahead and chewed the food a little, but then spit it out, we would get some value out of it. This is what we do, when we usually read endless spiritual articles or keep hopping from one workshop to the other.
However, if we actually swallow all the food we’ve been chewing, only then does it bring true value to our body. In the same way, our mind and soul can only be truly satiated, and change can only happen, when we assimilate, or digest everything we’re chewing on.
But how do we know what needs to be chewed, what should be internalized?
This was asked to me by one of my clients, as I explained the analogy to them. It’s a great question! And I want to remind you, that just like food tastes bad to our mouth and we’re able to reject it, the same is true for spiritual knowledge.
When something doesn’t resonate with us, we have an internal radar, a sense of discretion or discernment, which tells us, this is off.
Sometimes, it may happen that we eat our food and get a sore stomach afterwards. Same is for spiritual knowledge. Try to put things into practice. If over time, they make you feel worse, you’ll know they don’t work.
In that capacity, you’ll have internalized what you shouldn’t eat, and know not to eat it again!
Having understood the need for internalization in a magnified way, let’s look at the actual ways in which you can do this!
#1 – Take a nap.
I put this as the first point because that’s my favorite thing to do! Well, second to eating chocolate chip cookies. Anyway… How is napping relevant to spirituality or internalization?
It is. Because here’s what happens when you take a nap.
You not only unwind the conscious mind and allow your system to ‘reboot’, you also give the subconscious mind added time to process recent events. This added time is especially essential if you’re not someone that gets a full 8-hour sleep at night (as is true for probably every single one of us, except babies).
Does the 8-hour rule really matter? Actually, yes. The book Why We Sleep will prove this better with deep scientific research and evidence, but to give you an idea of what happens, this is what I can sum up.
When we’re sleeping, our mind has the opportunity to sort through the day’s thoughts, and decide what’s relevant and what’s not. This is why, sometimes, we have weird dreams. Now, if we don’t get enough sleep, we start facing challenges like –
- Brain Fog. In other words, not being able to remember events clearly and in general being more forgetful or confused;
- Deteriorating mental and gut health (because your body actually heals when you sleep, which it isn’t able to do now);
- Not being able to stay focused or present, because now you have too many thoughts left unprocessed in your head;
- And many, many other challenges.
So, internalization rule numero uno – give the subconscious mind enough time to process information from your waking state.
To understand it further, also think of this analogy.
Ever heard of the saying “sleep on it?”. Well, napping does help bring clarity. And in computer terminology, it gets rid of the overload that got accumulated in your ROM when you reboot your system. So when you wake up, you have fewer tabs open in your mind’s browser and can start fresh.
I love this video explanation as well on the benefits of napping, and the science behind why it works.
On another note, I also suspect that those that meditate for at least an hour a day are able to reproduce the same effect of information absorption, that a nap would. Hence, those that meditate a lot begin to need less sleep overtime.
I’m hoping some dedicated researcher reads this, and tests it out!
#2 – Practice Bath Meditation.
Lately, my favorite way to check-in with myself and just be present to my own energy, is to practice bathing meditations.
All I do is stand with my back to the shower, and as the water pours down, I relax my muscles. Then, I reflect on the following questions –
How am I feeling today?
Has there been anything upsetting lately that I’ve suppressed? (denied myself the right to internalize stressful events)
How could I have handled those events differently?
What have I not fully processed yet, that’s still on the surface?
Am I ready to slow down and let it absorb?
After this, I release the heavy energy into the water by visualization and intent. And for all that I have missed absorbing, I let a bath oil help seal it in. Again with intent!
Bath meditation is just one of the many ways which we can practice internalization through self-reflection. I teach many modalities that deepen this practice, which you’re welcome to reach out for and learn more about.
#3 – Digest The Energy.
The reason we learn all the things that we do, is to be more lively and joyous in life. But seldom are we, at least not for long. So, it can help us to explore how this energy (vitality) moves through our system.
While studying about the subtle body, I learned about something interesting. The Prana or Chi is a life force that not only rides on top of the breath we inhale, it moves through our body through five key functions. And when even one function is out of order, our ability to be energetic goes down significantly.
Here are the five key functions and their roles:
- Exhale (include excrete),
- Digest or assimilate,
- Balance and sustain.
So in day to day life, become aware of these five functions by reflecting on the following questions –
- Do I inhale fully? Am I permitting myself to fully take in life or am I resisting life in some ways?
- Do I exhale fully? Am I able to release and let things go, or am I still holding on to the past?
- Am I able to absorb what happens around me, or am I constantly losing track of things?
- And, am I willing to learn and grow, or am I holding myself back by being in my comfort zone?
- Do I feel safe in my body, and in my surroundings? Or are there things that stress me and make me react versus respond?
As you can probably tell, these questions help us with internalization by understanding the lifecycle of the prana as it flows in and out of us.
If we are able to stay open to what is coming, and let go of what is leaving, all the while staying present in the moment and fully experiencing it – we will automatically begin to feel like we’re in the flow of life and its wisdom.
#4 – Preach It.
I know, I know. It’s practice before you preach. But, if you can preach while you are practicing, it deepens your lesson.
Here are some things you can do, to deepen your internalization through dialogue with the outer world.
- Talk about your day-to-day spiritual findings and lessons with your loved ones;
- Keep a journal with your ideas and observations, especially noting down the most insightful things that you learn on any particular day. Every so often, go back and read your reflections, and let your own words preach to you!
- Write about it for the world! That’s how my journey began as a writer – on Instagram.
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, but in order to grasp the simpler truths of life, you want to live every moment remembering it. And don’t be shy in bringing those conversations to daily life – that’s the whole point of evolution, to pull everyone up with you!
#5 – Be a modern monk.
If you’ve ever been acquainted with the presence of a monk, you’ll notice how slow and conscious they are of every movement. Through Buddha’s stories, we learn that even though he and his monk disciples walked slowly wherever they went, they covered large distances on foot. They still reached where they intended to, without rushing.
Now, let’s think about ourselves. Even when we’re not rushing, how present are we in the moment?
How often do you go down the same route and see something ‘different’ out of the blue? Or, you re-read a book, or rewatch a movie and realize that you missed something so cool the first time.
There’s so much in our present moment just waiting to be absorbed. But we’re not in the moment, we’re in our heads. So it takes us a while to really absorb anything!
Of course, you don’t have to become a monk to gain benefits. You can make small changes and see results.
Back in the day, such people were called lay disciples. Ones that didn’t want to renounce the world but still wanted to experience a higher quality of life. Like you and me. We can be modern monks!
What are some practical ways to slow down and do more of what the Buddha did? Here’s a handful.
- Consume less knowledge, use more inner wisdom.
Our biggest problem is thinking that we don’t know enough, and not realizing that we already have everything we need. As long as we’re chasing external knowledge, we never put our inner wisdom into use. So, here’s my little checklist.
- Stop trying to finish dozens of books for your Goodreads challenge (guilty). Try to actually implement what you’ve learned from all those books and blogs.
- Ask yourself how to handle your problems, before seeking external advice.
- And, simplify your life by unfollowing people from social media, and unsubscribing from unnecessary email notifications!
Oh and, if you want more inspiration (and reality checks), I highly recommend reading Notes on A Nervous Planet, which pretty much nails this subject with a compelling rant!
- Achieve less.
I spoke about my own workaholic tendencies a while back, and will redirect you to my tips on how to do what’s essential, if you’re having a tough time balancing work-life or overcoming over-achievement tendencies.
- And practice self-isolation like a monk. These unprecedented times are a great opportunity for us to shed our behaviors and go deep within, to reflect on our true nature.
More Ways to Practice Internalization
Of course, the more obvious ways to internalize daily wisdom include –
- Meditating on a certain event. Sit down with the intent to replay an event in your head, and process your emotions around it. Here are some of my tips around sitting still more effectively.
- Mindful walks. Use time during walks to let your mind wander, and reflect on the past hours, days or months.
- Practice journaling your reflections through prompts.
Spending time with our thoughts is the key way to process them. In that sense, we are able to keep what’s relevant, shape newer ways of looking at something, and discard what no longer holds value in our journey.
There are undoubtedly countless books, courses and learning material available on our journey. Internalization isn’t about knowing everything in small doses – it’s just about knowing a few things fully.
I love the belief that if we could do even one thing right, with full awareness and presence, we would learn more about life than through any other type of half-hearted action.
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