"Inside Out," the movie, is non-fiction. Learn to listen to the voices in your being.

Inside Out Image

One of the most delightful of the Christmas gifts we received this year is a DVD of the movie, "Inside Out". It tells the story of an 11-year-old girl from the perspective of five emotions operating within her -- Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness. 

It points the way to one of the most powerful sets of practices that I've encountered -- awareness of the many parts of the human being. Thinkers and teachers from Assagioli to Hal and Sidra Stone to Dennis Merzel (formerly Genpo Roshi) have advocated the conscious engagement with the myriad "voices" or "parts" that constitute a human being. 

These parts of us, however, go way beyond our emotions. These parts, according to Merzel, can number in the thousands. Some of the many I've encountered as I've led group processes include The Controller, The Protector, The Wounded Child, The Seeker, Desire, Shame, The Mind that Does Not Seek, and Boundless Heart.

The fundamental technology I use when working with these parts is question and answer: Ask to speak to a particular part, ask him/her a question, and then step into the role of that part when answering the question. For example:

  • I'd like to speak to The Protector.
  • Q: What is your function?
  • A: To protect.
  • Q: What are you protecting?
  • A: My Self, my family, my home.
  • Q: What are you protecting them from?
  • A: All sorts of danger.
  • Q: Like what?

And on like that. Now, there's a skill to this, so you might want to do some reading on this approach (e.g., Big Mind, Big Heart, Finding Your Way, by Genpo Roshi, watch some videos of Genpo Roshi leading his Big Mind process or, better yet, get some formal instruction in one of these approaches. 

There are inumerable benefits from this sort of practice, but I count among the most important of these benefits an increased capacity for compassion, both for your self and for others. 

Please write me if you have any questions: thomas.g.goddard@gmail.com.