Instruction Part 2: Learning to Allow the Mind to Flow and Reporting on Experience

I must begin by being clear: The use of the mind in inquiry is not analytical or involved in reflective thinking. Well some reflection can have an affect but that is not the goal.

Contrary unlike some meditation techniques which simply "give the mind something to do" this approach revolves around a correct use of the mind. 
The mind is not the enemy of deep wisdom practice, but it is not meant to be the master of our experience. It is incorrectly used by modern humanity. Driven by our excess fight/flight/freeze charge of our stress, anxiety, and over all "sympathetic arousal." Thus there is constant activity of novelty seeking, planning, analyzing, judging, imagining and so on.

I have learned over many years of inner work and from my influences (see my links and references) that there are intelligent uses of the mind. As one path has put it: the mind is a tyrannical master but an excellent servant. Meditation creates the ability to disengaged from the habitual mind. I believe that Inquiry nurtures the ability to use the mind correctly. There are several facets of the correct use of the mental center:

  • Spontaneous synthesis of information and insight.
  • Discrimination
  • Knowing by Being: direct knowing of the moment.
  • Objective recognition and qualitative description.
  • The sense of allowing a coherent flow of knowing to occur.
Inquiry engages all three "centers of intelligence" in actuality: mental, emotional, behavioral/somatic. The reader will understand this as they practice this. But, before I fall into more theory and ideas, let me introduce the next experiments that have led to my discovery of Inquiry. Again, like meditation, it is something you discover in your own experience rather than learned from a method. Methods and experiments just lead to this discovery. 
It's beyond these directions but I have come to believe that Inquiry is optimally practiced in a peer to peer setting. But most of us don't have this luxury and will have to find a way to inquire alone.

To begin, sit upright comfortably. I have attempted free associating in the traditional Freudian manner of laying on a couch and staring up at the ceiling. To me, this leads to dissociation and makes me tired. If I sit up, preferably in a straight backed chair, I become more alert and engaged. 

Now, once settled and breathing correctly and in your body and in a mindfully objective stance

Begin reporting on your experience. Let anything be there, inside you or outside you. Sensations, thoughts, impulses, images, breathing patterns and so on. 

For example, I'll sit and suddenly become aware of my feet. I stay with that and next I notice some thoughts and images from the latest problems I've been mulling over in my life, I simply note that to myself quietly and note the next thing. You can journal if you like. My mind moves to fast to write my experience down, so I simply note what I experience to myself and move on or stay with it.


Notice the body. Also notice the general sense of "things." Notice the middle of your body. Find a sensation in your body. Or the general sensation of your whole experience. Such as the atmosphere around you. Describe it as objectively as you can. Use whichever quality adjectives come to mind that fit the experience as directly as possible.

For example: I feel a sense of a "thickness" around me. Things feel thick and heavy, then a notice a sense of a heaviness in my chest. I stay with this sensation and describe what's there and so on. 

This experiment builds the ability to tune into the felt-sense of one's experience and to be able to objectively describe it without analyzing it. You feel and describe at the same time. As well as concentrate.
A note on concentration. Many concentration practices in meditation are about tuning out other objects of attention so that you can focus on one thing. Similarly, there is a return to what is arising in experience, but there is a dual focus of a flow of that attention. You are concentrating on the flow of experience. And returning to it if you become distracted.

Now try this:

Let yourself down, into your experience. Allow for you censors to come down as much as you can without forcing anything. Allow the mind to flow. What thoughts, images, memories and so on seem to arise if you allow anything to come up in your mind? Can you let this happen in the first place? What is is like to allow anything, even the darkest, most painful or uncomfortable things to arise? Can you let spontaneous imagery arise without being identified in it?

This was my first main experiment that led to true inquiry for myself. Just simply letting my censors down and beginning with my mind. I had been practicing Focusing for years with meager results. It took until this work on free association as well as work on parts, or subpersonalities which censored my experience that led to my mind's ability to freely flow and thus the rest of my experience could link together and reach greater coherence and experiential truth. 

If your mind will not flow at all, there would probably be a strong defensive "ego state" at play. For some reason you may fear something coming up and being known. The two parts or defenses I had to wrestle with I called "the blank screen" and "the skeptic." You can imagine how those parts worked to censor the free flow of my mind. 

And now for the next step and the heart of what this practice truly is:

As you settle mindfully into your experience, let the first thing come. A sensation, image, thought or memory, behavioral impulse, emotion, bodily felt-sense (knot in gut, feeling in throat or chest and so on, see Focusing), or anything else. Go to the first thing that comes and let the mind associate onto the next thing. Let the next associated thing come, report on it, let it associate and repeat. If something strong or meaningful occurs, stay with it until something occurs or it is known well enough, or further associations occur.

This is difficult to describe or teach. It is basically a holistic mind-body free association. This is the heart, the grounds to Gestalt Therapy work. Fritz Perls was more about direct experience and less about the mind so I am combining the Freudian mental free association with Jungian active imagination (free flow of imagery) with Gestaltean free flow of embodied and sensory experience. 

There is a feeling of a coherent movements and flow of experience. It is NOT a practice of the stream of consciousness. It is more coherent. Things arise, things come together. Insights may occur, emotions and stuck behaviors may arise. 

Stay with the whole sensation of the body. Hold the self-images and states that come up with your present, adult sense of self. This is called "dual processing" by one form of psychotherapy. Where a client learns to hold their present state with old states and senses of self. When a person can hold their old self images and parts in present consciousness, fully embodied, this old psychological material may tend to shift and change rapidly. 
This is why it is essential that Inquiry is practiced from a mindfully objective stance. 

This is basically it for my description of Inquiry. It is a free association of the totality of experience. There are other approaches I integrate into it from time to time, such as parts work and body work and Focusing. 

These approaches are beyond this introduction and I will either blog about them or create another section on them.

Feel free to email me with questions. I hope that this site can introduce this practice to more people. Seek out Focusing or the Diamond Approach or the Diamond Logos approaches if you want to practice some forms of inquiry with others. So far, I do not know of any other way to practice Inquiry with others. 

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