By Aquila: Part 3 of Self- Sabotage a Spiritual Perspective
Most of us have not been trained how to reflect on ourselves in a productive way. It’s especially true for people who are self-critical, often when we think about ourselves, we tend to fall into negative thought patterns. How are we supposed to perform this task well without any instruction? There is no instruction manual for our human intellect. Being a human can be challenging, and we frequently lack the resources necessary to insure that we live happily and healthily.
Developing self-inquiry skills helps us identify troublesome thoughts and beliefs. Many of them are misunderstandings or simply habits that we have grown accustomed to over the years that repeat compulsively. Getting started on the path to liberation begins with questioning our thoughts. Inward Looking or Self-enquiry, initially consists of nothing more than asking oneself simple questions. It involves focusing your interest and attention inside into the truth of who you truly are. It is a practice of shifting attention away from external objects, events, and sensations and onto internal experiences, particularly subtle experiences inside awareness itself. This inward focus can eventually result in an awareness of your true nature at its core and perhaps take you beyond the realm of experience to a place devoid of personal identity or experience. Even that is merely another level that has the potential to lead to astonishingly deep realities.
This is the method of self-inquiry, which has you entering a state of inward-pointing silence, turning your attention inward, and directing it toward your true Self. As a result, the ego ceases to exist; instead, there is only an empty presence of unattached, unconcerned consciousness.
“Let what comes come. Let what goes go. Find out what remains.”
– Ramana Maharshi
So, how does one go about self-inquiry? You start by pondering questions like “Who am I?” and “What am I?” or “What am I doing here right now?” You can also use any other question that draws your attention to your sense of “me” or to your immediate experience of your being and/or experience in this now. A sensation or experience outside of yourself can be accessed by asking, “To whom is this sensation or experience occurring?” It’s natural to answer, “ME.”. In order to take the encounter deeper and deeper into your inner being, you ask the question repeatedly, “Who or what is this me?” With each new experience or sense of me that you have, you can take the
encounter deeper and deeper into yourself. If we turn our attention inward, we can immediately observe that there is a wealth of possibilities for what we can discover. In essence, you redirect consciousness inward onto itself. You are expressing your ego when you say “I.” So the real question is, where does this ego come from?
Here are two hints:
1) You won’t locate the source in any one location within your body or outside of it for that matter. You have to realize how simple this is. If you’re not sure whether you’re doing it correctly, simply ask yourself, “Who is experiencing the doubt?”
2) Ask the questions and allow the mind to do its thing, thought will come and go let that happen. Then at a certain point when you ask the question don’t search for an answer just rest in the silence that remains on the other end of the question(s).
After some time, you’ll start to understand that the majority of your thoughts are external and do not need to be thought. And you may come to the point of not even having to give the thoughts any consideration or analysis. Whenever you have a question, ask it without even speaking. The answers to these questions must come from your intuition and insight, not through mental debate. The practice will be easier if you approach each thought with indifference and distance, as if you were watching a boring movie. Be careful not to let your ideas control your actions. If you practice this meditation for a while, you can learn to separate yourself from your worries and racing thoughts. It will then be possible for you to discover the deep and expansive consciousness that has been hidden within you. A key component of self-inquiry meditation is detaching from your thoughts and letting them run the show. If you maintain this attitude, you will be able to control your impulses and ideas as well as quiet your mind.
In conclusion, by developing the capacity of self-inquiry, we can take a moment to reflect on where our beliefs came from and whether or not they still serve us. By engaging in self-inquiry, we can learn to deal with discomfort, feelings, thoughts, ideas, and sensations. It may be easier to let go of such beliefs if the discomfort can be tolerated and something positive is gained. We may be more likely to make healthy decisions if we feel empowered and in equilibrium.
Stay tuned for Parts 4 where I will share about the last of the methods to remember and embody your limitless self. Through: Love and Compassion.
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