Self-inquiry differs from all other meditations that I’m aware of because all the others require us to dedicate a period of time to their practice, need a quiet place, entail closing our eyes, and demand the removal of external distractions to be fully effective – or even able to be performed at all.
Self-inquiry however, requires none of those ingredients. This makes it perfect for anyone living a busy, time-committed life. Which is pretty much everyone these days.
Btw: You can, of course, practice inquiry with eyes closed, in a secluded and quiet place devoid of distractions. If you have those possibilities, great, enjoy them. It’s just that they are not requirements for Self-inquiry to produce life-changing results.
What happens after a retreat or relaxing holiday?
The reason stress returns after we’ve been on a retreat or enjoyed a holiday (“holy-day” … ) is that the egoic “I am” thought – which creates the illusion of there being a “doer” of actions, tends to return and take over our lives.
This is such a common experience that I call it the “I feel great on retreat but how do I cope with life afterwards?” problem, which has been reported by every person I’ve spoken with and to which Self-inquiry is the solution.
We can practice Self-inquiry wherever we are, whomever we are with, and whatever we are doing.
Our Heart-felt inquiry can dissolve the tendency for stress-creating distractions to re-emerge following a retreat or holiday. It does this by digging out the “weed thought” of separation (ie egoity) by the root. And then, like a weed in our gardens that has no roots left, it cannot regrow.
Try this simple process now, while you are reading these words
- Notice what is happening, i.e. your experience.
- Notice that there is awareness of what is happening.
- Notice that you are aware of what is happening.
- Reflect on the questions, “What am I?” and “Who am I?”
- Notice that the only possible answer to both is I AM.
- Notice that I AM Consciousness is not a thought (unlike the egoic “I am” thought, which comes with a feeling of separation), an emotion, nor a sensation but rather the pure I AM is aware of thoughts (including the “I am” thought), emotions and sensations.
- Allow attention to relax into the feeling-sense of being I AM.
- Feel the peace that lives prior to every-thing, every-body, and every experience.
- Listen to the silence of I AM, the silence of your Heart.
- Notice that your body-mind can easily continue to perform whatever tasks are required of it while you enjoy living from the feeling-sense of being I AM.
- Repeat steps 1-9 as frequently as possible until all that remains is the silence of your Heart, the inexplicable peace that is beyond all understanding.
The secret to success with Self-inquiry: Notice that attention is already and always free to focus on whatever you choose to focus it on – e.g. thoughts of past and future, emotions and physical sensations. Notice also that you can choose to focus attention on, and into, the silent feeling-sense of I AM Consciousness.
The power of inquiry does not come from the questions themselves but from the silent I AM Consciousness, the silence of our mutual One Heart, to which they point our attention.
Do the best you can to engage with the simple practice of Self-inquiry. The more frequently you practice it, even while engaged in everyday tasks, the easier it will become to remember to practice.
Similarly, the more frequently you choose to rest attention on, into, and ultimately as, the feeling-sense of I AM Consciousness, the more natural it will feel.
I AM is the silence of your Heart. Ultimately, when you dive deeply into the mystery of I AM, you will find it to be Divinity Itself.
You will know Divinity as being a power beyond comprehension, a beauty beyond compare, and to be none other than the ultimate truth of who and what you really are.