May 30, 2013

Extrinsic & Intrinsic Longings. ~ Karen Mozes

There are the ever-present intrinsic longings of our natural and spiritual path: to find work that has meaning, to be of service, to be compassionate, and ultimately, to love and to be loved.

I first touched a drawing board with a straight edge and ink pens at age 14, while a high-school student at a technical architectural engineering program in my home country, Brazil. I spent 15 years working in the architectural and engineering world. The reasons for me to be in an architectural engineering program at that time are varied, and so are the many reasons which kept me in it for years and years.

My career pursuits hardly reflected my true, deep passions. I could not find my spirituality through them for this reason.

To find a path where my intrinsic values were expressed required, I created a life that was almost entirely separate from my career—my continuous studies in yoga, eastern philosophy, neuro-science and neuro-plasticity, human potential and world’s religions.

Many of us find we need to create two separate worlds in order to meet a balance in our pursuit of intrinsic and extrinsic goals. A path where the two are seemingly connected is a much easier, and much more fulfilling one.

On the other hand, we have the very real and ever-tempting extrinsic desires of the material world. These are our financial goals, our desire to look in a certain way and to fit in society by abiding to some acceptable and expected conducts. Although the two do not have to be in conflict with one another, therefore, not always in duality per se, I have found that the two can hardly ever merge if the material pursuits do not genuinely represent the real, truthful and deep dreams of the individual.

In other words, an aimless desire to achieve accumulation of wealth, or status, success, or any goal that is exterior to us, that is not backed up by an even deeper passion for the means by which these desires are being sought, will unequivocally bring a separation between the soul-life, and this human experience.

As we become clear about our own true dreams, we not only successfully bring about extrinsic results, we also find our unique “being-ness,” or our unique spiritual existence in the process.

The desire to become a full-time mother, run a family or to become a well-known CEO of a top corporation does not in and of itself create an internal duality against our spiritual paths. However, an unauthentic desire to reach these goals that is a product of perceived values handed down to us will stand in the way of letting intrinsic spiritual longings to emerge.

How many of us do that? How many of us recognize that the path we chose is not the right path for us, yet we stay in it because at first it just makes sense to stay, and then eventually, it just makes no financial sense to leave?

It took me many years to recognize that the separation I had created in my life between what I did “for a living” and that which I did seeking my true self was depleting my energy. I felt as if I was constantly swimming against the current; the more I tried, the more exhausting both paths became. The career I had chosen at such a young age became a self-imposed container—the longer I stayed in it, the thicker the walls of this container grew around me. From architecture to engineering to sustainability consultant, I earned degrees, arduously climbed the corporate ladder, eventually became a principle and with time I felt there was no way out.

When I chose to become a full time coach, writer and speaker, taking the first step felt scary, and yet the decision to do so brought with it an energy, a drive and a courage that I did not know I possessed. That first step is the step between the self-imposed container and the immensity of everything that lies outside that container.

My container was a career that did not bring me real inner growth. This container never existed in the physical world; it was an imaginary boundary that had kept me prisoner along with my fears and attachments.

Many of you reading this will say you are not able to get out of your own container. You will tell yourself that the container you have is way too thick, and it involves things that are beyond your control. If your container is too small and is limiting your ability to grow both externally and internally, then this container can and should be broken, no matter what the circumstances around you are. They are the conditions you created from choices you have made, but they are not the conditions that must exist moving forward. You are not your past. Trusting the Universe takes courage, but once you do, you will know how worthwhile it was to try. Taking that step will feel like learning to walk all over again.

It will feel like freedom.


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Ed: K.Macku/Kate Bartolotta

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