Wellness through Radical Self-Enquiry
Self-enquiry is not a skill usually taught to children. Some parents care enough about their children to teach them how to do this. They ask questions which lead with curiosity, questions which wonder about what the child is experiencing on the inside.
Self-enquiry is the quickest way to emotional regulation, managing negative self-talk, and managing sensory stimulation. The key is when activated by anything, pleasurable or painful.
Self-enquiry is discussed by Denver Frederick, Host of "Business of Giving" in an interview with Jerry Colona, Author.
"When those of us hold power, either by dint of the meat bag that we occupy, or by the role that we have in society, when we allow those unconscious forces to stay in the unconscious, we are much more likely to do damage in the organizations, in our communities, in our society." Denver Frederick.
Let us talk about reality for a moment. There are only three ways to tell whether something is real or true. The first way is to have an experience with a thing or reality for a long period of time. Scientists do this when they spend months and years researching to come up with solutions to our problems. This is why you can truth Scientists for the most part as a group.
The second way to know what is true is to study from masters and leaders in a certain field. I typically have problem with "group think," but when all the leaders in a field find certain facts to be true, you can at least suppose they are true until you have more information.
The third way to what is true is to have an accountability partner in life who know you better than anyone else. This partner knows how your mind works, what you tend to rationalize and justify and how you tend to get yourself into trouble. Now, I do not mean people who are going to be loyal to you and tell you what they think you want to hear. This is what authoritarians and autocrats expect of you. I am talking about a balanced, healthy person in your life who will love you enough to tell you the truth.
Clearly, a bit of radical self-enquiry is due here on the part of all those who participate in life.
The only way to know who you are is to enquire within. The only way to change your behavior is to understand yourself. The only way to understand yourself is to to self-enquire. Why do I use the word "enquire" as opposed to "inquire?" Denver Frederik above is suggesting the best leaders are ones who "radically self-inquire." Historically the word "inquire" has meant to "ask," while the word "enquire" has meant to "explore."
Radical self-enquiry is an "exploration" of thought, words, actions, motives, biases, prejudices, influences, and unconscious pre-dispositions. It is not just an "ask." It is a targeted and directed "exploration" aimed at finding out what is at the root of YOUR "modus operandi" and how have those actions become habitual. With an open mind, a kind heart, and a neutral process, self-enquiry becomes less "dangerous." If you commit to not shaming, blaming, judging, disparaging, debasing, labeling, analyzing, debasing, criticizing, dishonoring, or discrediting yourself, it will go well for you. You cannot self-enquire while judging yourself or others. If you know you did something wrong, correct it. Then self-enquire.
There are unconscious people who live in this World. The number of unconscious people is at an all-time high. They believe they are correct, entitled, elevated from the rest of us, worthy of special privilege and cannot be bothered with most people. There are also people who have been so injured in their relationships with others they are worn out and not really interested in trying to relate any longer. Neither of these is a reasonable solution.
When you self-enquire with an open mind, kind heart, and a neutral process then you can begin to know the answers to these questions.
What is the root cause of my behavior?
What are my motives?
How is my behavior causing harm to myself and others?
When did I first learn how to behave this way?
How can I begin to change my behavior?
Here is a model to begin the practice of radical self-enquiry.
First, find a quiet, comfortable place to sit, a glass of water, and a journal or paper with which to write. It does not matter where you are. The only equipment necessary for this exercise is a seat, water, and a paper.
Sit down, take a sip of water, and get comfortable. Set your paper aside for a few minutes to allow yourself to relax. Close your eyes and take ten profoundly deep breaths. Most of us hold our breath most of the day. Breathe from the tail bone all the way to the top of your head. I know, it does not seem possible. If you imagine you can, each breath will get deeper.
After the ten breaths, open your eyes and ask yourself three questions. Ask the question, then close your eyes and allow the answer to come to you. The answer is not usually your first "thought." The first thought comes from the busy mind, the one who wants to get on with things. We want another part of your mind to answer these questions. The quiet mind. Wait for the answer to come to you and then write it down on the paper.
Go on to the next question and repeat the process.
Repeat the process again for the third question.
Here are the questions:
1. What am I thinking?
2. What emotion am I feeling?
3. What sensory experience am I aware of in my body?
Check the answers to the three questions for consistency. If you are thing, "I hate this exercise," and you are feeling "serene," and you are feeling "numbness" in your body then your thoughts, emotions and sensory experiences are a bit inconsistent.
Just note this experience and move on with your day.
If this exercise is done every day before bed, it will provide a good start on the journey of radical self-enquiry.