Last week I wrote about cultivating awareness and touched on some of the mindful practices that we do in order to keep expanding our awareness and uncovering the beliefs and illusions that may be keeping us from living a full and engaged life. This week I would like to expand on that theme by discussing the process of mindful inquiry and how it leads to deepening awareness.
Mindful Inquiry is one of several skillful means by which we can begin to deepen awareness. It is a wise and compassionate investigation of our lived sensory experience by which, we cultivate an openness to what is happening right here and now. It is an embodied experience rather than a cognitive processing – we investigate what is going on in this moment through our senses and not our thoughts about what is going on. In other words; we investigate what we are feeling rather than what we think about what we are feeling.
Another way to think of it is bottom-up processing versus top-down processing. In our normal way of being, we have learned to be very top-down oriented. We live in our heads and very seldom process our feelings and sensations without filtering them through our thoughts. Why is this a problem? Our thoughts are quite biased and taint everything we experience with the pre-conceived beliefs and notions of previous experiences. Which is great for survival and learning on some levels, but it also means that we don’t always get an accurate picture of the reality that is unfolding in this moment.
Mindful inquiry encourages us to experience our sensations without the filter of our thoughts. We ask ourselves what is happening in this moment with a sincere, open, non-judgmental attitude. We tune-in to what is happening with the willingness to be changed by whatever arises. We investigate our feelings, our beliefs and our thoughts in a given moment with the intention of waking up from any illusions that may be keeping us small or limiting our sense of self.
This investigation is a gentle one, done with an attitude of kindliness and compassion. This is not a process of delving into our darkest places and berating ouselves or reliving any traumas. It is about allowing ourselves to feel what we are feeling now, in this moment, before opening to deeper understanding of those feelings. We then offer ourselves comfort for whatever arises. If there is any trauma or particularly distressing emotion, it is best to work with a counsellor or coach.
For more information about mindful investigation, please feel free to get in touch with me.