Inquiry Instruction 1: Presence and Mindful Stance Towards Experience

The first facet of inquiry is the foundation: being able to be more than any part of experience. As in settling into presence and objectively aware. 

Anyone who has ever studied meditation will know this well, that to begin you need to learn to be with experience without changing, rejecting or clinging to it. It is also helpful to learn an allowing mental stance. That anything that comes or doesn't come is good and true.

In Internal Family Systems Therapy they use the Jungian term "the Self" to denote the level of consciousness that can be with and separate from internal parts and subpersonalities but is not any one part or subpersonality. 

Similar to mindfulness and meditation this practice cannot be effective unless a person can become disembedded from their experience. 

There are many ways this can be accomplished but the two ways I tend to use are the breath and turning sensation towards the present sense of the body. Research meditation to find other means of disidentifying from experience.

First, I take a few moments to come into my body. 

Try this: feel your feet on the floor, your weight on the chair you're sitting on, feel your sense of your skin and boundaries, the tensions you feel, the mask you wear on your face. Feel yourself as substance. As a substantial presence in this moment, fully embodied. 

I usually take a moment to get the general sense of myself and the felt sense of things and life in general. There can be a general "felt-quality" to your recent life, like an atmosphere around you. I may follow this into a line of inquiry that ends up a specific felt place in my body.

The other means to concentrate and mindfully observe experience is to breathe just right:

When I stumbled onto inquiry in myself I noticed an arising of these states of feeling immensely quiet within myself. It was as if the entire room opened up and became still and clear. I felt a sense of being present to the moment in a way that I had not reached in a decade of meditation. 

It took several months to understand why these states were arising. What I was doing was concentrating on allowing my mind to flow and in this I quite unconsciously took these odd breaths that seemed shallow at first but ended up being internally deep. I would breathe with my mouth slightly open and with only my solar plexus seeming to move. I was breathing somewhat irregularly and slightly quicker than a normal breath rate. 

What I stumbled upon was diaphragmatic breathing. Here is a great site on this method of breathing:

Essentially, you are not belly breathing or chest breathing, but breathing with the middle. The lateral ribs and superior abdomen may displace somewhat but it is only the diaphragm that really moves. The outbreath is longer than the inbreath and there is a slight pause at the end of the exhalation. 

This is something that has to be played with. It is more felt and constantly adjusted than practiced as an exact method of breathing. I found that I breathed with the flow of my mind. 

And I cannot quiet automatic mental activity to concentrate at all unless I breath this way. It has helped me with meditation immensely. 

There is actually a third way of disembedding from experience, this is the objective reporting on experience which will be one of the subjects of the next section where I will offer my suggestions on how to actually flow with experience. It will be the meat of the inquiry practice. 

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