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  • Emily Balazs

What is Inner Alchemy?

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

What comes to mind when you hear the word alchemy?

If you were raised in a Western European dominant culture, chances are that you associate the word alchemy with the image of a wizard or some other magical authority figure transforming base metals into gold. However, Western European culture does not have a monopoly on this concept. Eastern Asian cultures associate the concept of alchemy with yogic practices included within a variety of religious traditions. In fact, the idea of inner alchemy is most closely associated with Eastern traditions and takes the external transformation that we see in turning lead into gold and extends it to working with our internal states. Instead of chemical transformation, the focus is on energetic transformation.

Alchemy is everywhere. Alchemy is nature herself. It is a constant energetic flow. Truly, all we have to do is look around to see that the world is in a continuous process of change. We see it in the shifting of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the tides, in the process of birth, growth and decay – and the human experience cannot be separated from this. Our relationships, our identities, our beliefs, our values, our behaviors are all subject to these same sorts of processes, and we frequently feel swept along by them.

And holy shit…we are self-aware! We can think about our thinking. We can have feelings about our feelings. For better and for worse, our brains have evolved to allow us to reflect on and observe our experience, and while that can be absolutely maddening at times, it also comes with the invaluable ability to witness, pause and respond. Essentially, it gives us tremendous creativity and power.

From a very early age, most if not all of us are given a prescribed set of instructions on how to live life “correctly”. Some of these instructions are useful, though many are based upon outdated cultural and societal norms that we are encouraged not to question, thus disempowering us from our own genuine sense of agency and discernment. In short, we are not given the full opportunity to cultivate true inner wisdom, leaving us feeling generally disconnected from ourselves, our needs and our desires and cutting us off from the natural flow of life.

Inner alchemy starts with the acknowledgment and acceptance of being on this ride of constant change whether we like it or not! In fact, there is no way to distinguish between ourselves and the cycle of life and death. We are born out of it. We ARE it. When this is fully recognized and embodied, you begin to understand the power that you have within you to direct the course of your life. You cannot control what arises within or around you, but you can control how you hold it in your hands, how you move with it, how you use its energy to keep flowing, growing and learning. Inner alchemy is taking whatever exists within you and being with it in such a way that it cannot help but transform into something else, because that is what everything in this world does. It keeps unfolding. It keeps moving. Our big, beautiful thinking minds just get in the way.

What are some of the ways that you see alchemy showing up in your life?

What are some of the ways that you allow your mind to get in the way of letting life unfold?


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