When something “big” is up it often becomes a powerful time for inquiry.
A transition is happening in your life. Oh look. Now this.
There’s something brought to your attention where you’ll need to respond, money is coming or going, health is potentially changing, a relationship changes formats, you lost your job, you started a new job, you sold a house, you’re moving, you broke your arm, you’re getting divorced, you’re getting married.
I’ve worked with people going through every single one of these experiences, and many more, who have considered them all to be very stressful.
But here’s a funny observation. I’ve noticed it in myself, and others report the very same thing.
The order of response sometimes leads to more stress, first, before remembering “I can question this!”
It goes like this:
1) an event, situation, incident happens
2) mind perceives in a flash that something bad is happening now or will happen later (there’s a threat) based on what it’s seen happen in the past
3) feelings enter, almost simultaneously it seems–you’re flooded with adrenaline, choked in sadness, rage rushes up–there are lesser or greater variations of these emotions, from tiny irritation to extreme fury for example
4) you react, in other words your actions are based on getting away from the threat, being upset by the threat, handling the threat, destroying the threat, telling other people about the threat….whether with words, movement, gesture, planning
5) you return to a calmer state, supposedly, back to homeostasis, relaxation, waiting, calm, resting….or you continue your project of seeking this state of rest, which isn’t here (yet)
6) the situation is has passed, but you stay alert, braced, ready-to-jump, on call for when the next “incident” happens
7) go back to #1
What I find is no matter when or where you remember you have the tools of inquiring….
….questioning the truth of your assumptions interrupts this pattern.
At the beginning of my journey of awareness, I sought comfort from books and spiritual wisdom.
These offered a lot of insight.
But I kept acting the very same way. (See cycle #1 through #7).
So I made contact eventually with people and started meeting with a therapist once a week, who then invited me into her group therapy.
It was sooooo helpful, I am forever grateful. Especially for the group process.
It interrupted the pattern completely of how I assumed, managed, thought I needed to handle, and interact with humans. (See #4).
It opened up tons of alternate possibilities for communicating and being with others.
It was really frightening work, in many ways, because I had to try things suggested to me that sounded really dangerous.
(My therapist: “Tell your fellow group therapy member how you’re feeling about him for real”. Gulp.)
Even when I came out of that awesome experience, perfect for my own growth and path, I would still enter into the cycle above.
Nothing wrong with this at all….the therapy assisted greatly with expansion of steps #4 through #6 and opening up more possibilities and alternatives had some affect on #2 and #3.
But #1 would still set a lot of things off.
I freak out. (On the inside, or maybe the outside too). I react. I have big feelings.
I focus on fixing and managing the feelings and adjusting or working with the thing causing the feelings, whether the “problem” was something outside of me, or the “problem” was me.
In any case, there’s a problem. That’s for dang sure.
Enter the practice of Inquiry.
Inquiry challenged that very core, deep assumption that something, someone, somewhere….was indeed a problem.
All those ideas I had about what would make things better, whether that other person changing, or me changing.
Wow, what a lot of work.
Who would you be if you stopped….and right after #1 above as your mind gets fired up into #2….you wonder if it’s true that there’s a problem?
Or, who would you be if it occurred to you, right after #3…..I wonder if my feelings are telling me the truth about what is or is not a problem?
Or, who would you be if you slowed down right after #4 as you’re executing your plans or you’ve just reacted with words, or you ran away…..hmmm, I wonder if I’ve got the full and complete picture here about safety or lack of safety or the problem?
Or, who would you be if you sat still when things got quieter in #5….and you began to answer a few questions about this whole situation overall and your view that it was a problem?
Or, what if as life slowed down and you’re no longer in emergency mode and you sit in #6…..you really let go entirely in the present moment and notice, quite astonishingly, that currently there is no problem?
Eventually, you might notice #1 (called life) and then….
….wait for it….
“I was in a hurry, so I did The Work.” ~ Byron Katie
P.S. Some issues appear to be big. Health, relationships, career, spiritual awakening. Maybe it’s a good time for the power of practice and group support, to keep you interrupting the regular pattern of suffering. Year of Inquiry is awesome for this. We start next month.
It’s called The Work because this takes, well, work.