Outer World, Meet Inner World

Outer World, Meet Inner WorldLast time we talked about the inner world. You saw why opening it can help you transcend your past and open greater possibilities.

One of those possibilities is that your inner world starts influencing the outer world. The potentials of this are often surprising.

One rather unexpected example of this happened to me in 1984. I happened to live across the street from a very large park in the Los Angeles area at that time. Sometimes I would walk over to practice Tai Chi in one of the grassy openings there.

This particular Friday morning was sunny and warm without being too hot. It was a perfect L.A. day. I decided to go practice Tai Chi.

A bit of background – although Tai Chi is a martial art, it approaches conflict in a somewhat counter-intuitive way. For example, one tenet of the system is to yield in order to overcome your opponent. In other words, not to meet force with force. Instead, you meet the force by moving out of its path.

That day, I found a nice, sunny place in the park to practice. The temperature was just right, so I took off my shirt.

About 30 seconds after starting, I notice a young Latino man come up to the picnic table behind me and to my right. (Figure 1).

Figure 1


A few seconds later, he shouted to me, “Hey man, you’re in my spot.” This was odd, since this gigantic park was practically empty. But somehow he thought I was in “his” spot.

Now in L.A., it’s not uncommon for gang initiations to involve hurting or even killing some random stranger. That made this young man’s yelling at me an event to pay unique attention to.

But my response wasn’t what I might have expected. Instead of getting worried or anxious, I found myself getting even more relaxed. I could feel the adrenaline pumping, but didn’t feel tense. Instead, this the adrenaline feeling expanded around me for about 15 feet in all directions. It was palpable. I was curious about this, but made no obvious response to his shouting and just kept practicing my form.

The young man, noticing that I wasn’t reacting to him, came closer to me. He stood right at the edge of the 15-foot diameter area that felt to me like a large circular energy field. He once again said in a loud voice, “Hey man, you’re in my spot!” (Figure 2).

Figure 1


The effect on me of this second communication was that I got even more relaxed and felt the energy field become even stronger.

I had no thoughts about myself at all. But I started becoming very concerned for him. I felt that if he tried to cross into this energy field that his own violent energy would come back to hurt him. I really hoped that for his sake he didn’t cross that line. My concern for him eclipsed any other thoughts as I continued my practice.

When I didn’t respond yet again, he looked around and saw my shirt on the ground. This was an old shirt I just threw on to go to the park. It had holes in it.

He started walking towards the shirt. But instead of walking directly to the shirt in a straight line, he walked around the 15-foot circle diameter while I continued to practice my form. (Figure 3).

Figure 1


Frankly I was relieved that he didn’t cross the energy boundary. I kept wishing that he wouldn’t do anything that would get him hurt.

He got to the shirt and stood menacingly over it. (Figure 4).

Figure 1


I thought, “If he want’s a rag, he’s welcome to it.” I kept moving through the Tai Chi form.

When I didn’t react to him once again, he walked back over to the table. And again, he walked around the perimeter of the energy field. He sat and watched me for a few more minutes, then turned and left.

I finished my form. I felt relaxed and happy, and very relieved that he hadn’t done anything to hurt himself. I walked back home.

I have often thought of that event in subsequent years. I’m always grateful that he wasn’t hurt in the process. And I’m equally grateful to have had the experience of the inner world interacting with the outer world in such a harmonious way.

As you can tell, this type of experience is uncommon. But it does exist in the realm of possibility. In fact there are many stories of martial arts masters who’ve had similar uncommon experiences in the face of conflict.

I’ll tell you about one of these true masters in the next article…

All the best for your health and happiness,

Dr. Bruce Eichelberger

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