Inquiry as a Tool for Conscious Realization
As a human being, you have the opportunity to realize that never, not even for an instant, are you separate from consciousness, love, the source of everything.
Where are you in your realization of this statement? Do you get this conceptually but feel like the demands of life get in the way of you understanding and experiencing this wholeness? Do you have glimpses of this realization and experience a connection to life, the earth and the universe (even if for a nano-second), or is it a familiar experience to feel that connection – that sense of calm, flow, freedom of the grip of time – and can source it, allow it to flow through you and do what moves you?
With vulnerability and honesty, ask yourself now: can you see this opportunity for yourself? Or are thoughts already flooding in with “yeah, but….”, “If I had time, I’d….”, “if I was alone on vacation, I could…”, “If they would stop… “, “yeah, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to…” or maybe 1000 others.
Thought is what separates you from the realization
of who you are
Who you are – your true self, higher self, the inner you, your soul, your spirit, your light, your essence… is untouched by any idea of who you think you are. What blocks your realization of that freedom and connection is your attachment to limited thoughts of who you, others and the world should be.
These concepts of self, others, and world are just what the Default Mode Network of the brain pieces together as your ego. The ego is just a thought: an assumption based on concepts we feel others have put on us or those we have put on ourselves. Those thoughts, ideas, and beliefs swimming through the mind… who is doing the narrating? We spend our lives never genuinely questioning this most basic assumption: who is this “I” I keep referring to in my inner thoughts?
Assumptions, thoughts or self-concepts, knee-jerk reactions, behaviours, defences or strategies get used daily so that the “I” can feel solid and real; it can stay safe, have its needs met, and motivations fulfilled. These activities are most likely being directed by the ego. How can you know, though?
You (at your essence) is that which animates the body, but the conviction of the ego that “I am this body” or “I am the solution finder” or “I’m responsible for everything” is the only obstruction to the truth of who you are. From the ego lens, you maintain this belief every minute with incessant thought activity revolving around the idea of who you have thought yourself to be; this is the ego’s strategy to remain relevant, but in its relevance, your essence remains in the shadows. With inquiry and practice, you can get a good sense of when the ego is engaged, the heightened sense of self and what might be sitting in the shadows.
Inquiry is an act of revealing the quality of ego-based thought activity and instead turns your mind toward a central, inner experience. Through this process, you can discover boundless pure consciousness inherently free of all ego-based thought, free of any need for safety in experience. The process ultimately turns down the volume of the ego, allowing more room for the inner you to shine through and a more profound sense of belonging & connection.
How we maintain the experience
a separate self - the ego self
What happens is this: energy passes through the space you call your body; this is energy in motion (e-motion). E-motion is picked up by the senses (perception) and interpreted as a feeling – let’s say irritation. Through the habit of identifying with the body, the thought process says, “I am irritated.” It then begins to look for reasons why “I am irritated” and looks for ways to push that feeling away or justify it. But all the analysis, thinking, remembering, and storytelling that it engages in serve to keep the irritation there and even amplify it, feeding the delusion of the separate self, the ego.
So what can one do to be free of this?
Observing, sensing and understanding e-motion and emotional reactions can be keys to liberation. I teach students at MICH and bring my clients through a process to reveal and channel the emotion; move with it, allow it to move your energy. That is an essential first step that anyone can do anytime, anywhere. The process stops you from going into a story around your thoughts, feelings, and inner sensations and allows it to be just energy.
One thing to remember about inquiry:
Inquiry has nothing to do with finding a cause to why "am I this way" but everything to do with telling the truth of who you think you are, meeting it, and finding the compassion to let it go.
Let’s say you feel irritated.
STEP 1 SIT IN IT: Allow all the thoughts, stories, feelings, reactions, and “shoulds” around the irritation to come forth. Don’t identify with the irritation (“I am irritated”). Instead, allow it to be a feeling, a sensation (” I feel irritation”).
STEP 2 EXPERIENCE THE E-MOTION FULLY. Let the stories and thoughts fade into the background and allow irritation to be there and be with it as an experience. Go into the sensation of irritation. Where is it felt? What is its vibration, nature? Go into it – allow your awareness to enter it completely. Don’t let your mind analyze, look for reasons “why”, or go into any story. The movement of consciousness is INWARD to elicit the inner experience, not outward to find a source that caused this experience by simply staying with the irritation, not doing anything with it, not pushing it out of awareness, or getting rid of it without hiding it or speaking it. Just allowing the irritation will reveal something more profound than irritation. The irritation was just a surface ripple. Something deeper than irritation may be exposed, such as fear, unseen, subconscious existential fear. Not to be gotten rid of or analyzed but directly experienced. Be open to fear – this is fear from the point of view of the ego, its own existential fear that it might no longer have a role, purpose or meaning.
STEP 3: BE OPEN TO FEAR & WHAT CAN EMERGE FROM BEYOND: Experiencing being afraid without needing to say what you are afraid of, without following the thought. Experience. An even deeper emotion may be felt – again experienced without any storyline. If you allow yourself to experience each of these layers, you will approach a deep abyss, or a black hole as perceived by the mind. This is what the mind perceives as nothingness, emptiness, as no-body-ness. Be willing to be nobody and be free.
STEP 4: GIVE GRATITUDE: Give gratitude for creating and allowing this experience to unfold. The more gratitude you express when engaging in Inquiry, the more you encourage an appreciation for the process. Ultimately, this makes it easier to enter into Inquiry the next time you feel charged with feelings, emotions or anxiety rather than choosing to go into a tailspin of action and frenzy, eventually sapping your energy.
- Emotional states are layers of defence against a deeper inner experience. Once the defences are down and this door is open, then this nothingness that the mind wants to evade is met fully, and the nothingness in this meeting reveals the secret gem of truth that has been hidden all this time.
- With every emotion, there is the opportunity for direct self-inquiry to not move into a story but to experience emotions directly, without movement or action out in the world.
- By just being with the energy of emotion, sitting deeply and completely in the core of any emotional state, you will discover the same pristine awareness meeting itself as both experiencer and experience.
Inquiry ends the incessant running from negative states towards positive states, and one is freed from clinging to the impermanent. “Nothing” meets “No-thing” – whether mental or thought-based, physically based or circumstances in life.
So if it’s no-thing, you can consciously choose to lessen its weight, reducing the grip and attachments you may have assigned to it and see new opportunities.
Whatever arises in consciousness or awareness can be met entirely by consciousness or awareness with no need to hide in a story of emotions, feelings and beliefs that might be sucking your vital energy and not allowing the inner you to shine more brightly.
Ego Alchemy is an effective process of transformation from who we think we are to who we really are and allows that light to shine through.
About Christiane Magee, Resident Ego Alchemist
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