Yoga Me Well Blog Archive

A Guide to Self Inquiry

 

Winter’s dark days, long nights and cold contracting weather offer opportunity to dwell in gentler pursuits. Many of us feel drawn naturally to be insular. It’s a seasonal prompt to stillness and reflection.

I’ve had the good fortune for years of a dedicated personal mentor to guide me in this practice.  Broadly speaking, self-inquiry is a process that uncovers layers of original disturbance that are the root cause of unhelpful behavioural patterns and reactive responses.

In my experience, the practice reveals over time many and varied layers of an issue until I become less reactive – and finally neutral – in my response to whatever triggers it.

Triggers could be a situation, place, circumstance, person or event. Some of my responses include defensiveness, anger, victimhood, feeling trapped or powerless, despair and good old avoidance. It’s fun stuff.

Head in Ground Pose. It’s alright. We’ve all been there. But it’s better to go seek, than to hide.

Cleaning up our own psychic mess – which carries the patterns of prior generations too – requires strong intention and an attitude of self-responsibility. The process opens us to see clearly the aspects of Self that challenge us most such as our violence, aggression, selfishness, spinelessness.

The gifts of self-inquiry are:

  • self-acceptance
  • a quieter centre
  • lightness of mind and attitude
  • deeper insight into self and others
  • neutral and productive responses to life’s toughest challenges.    

**How to Self-Inquire

  1. Establish a daily practice and habit of quiet time to settle the overactive mind and becalm the nervous system. While 20 minutes of meditation twice a day is ideal, even 5-10 mins of natural breathing or mindful movement is an excellent habit.
  2. When a strong feeling arrives – day or night – pause to feel it. Name it.
  3. Practice knowing the full spectrum of your feelings, and welcoming them.
  4. Note if an obvious person, circumstance or event triggered that response.
  5. Consider this idea: our reactions are generally not about the thing in our immediate present, but refer to a past disturbing event that has imprinted to recreate that reaction.
  6. Over time you will learn to observe patterns such as particular personalities that trigger you, or situations such as being asked to do certain tasks by a partner or work colleague.
  7. Once you are established in awareness of your feelings, reactions, patterns, begin to self-inquire. After a reaction, ask yourself: “When did I first feel this way?”
  8. Trust whatever the subconscious mind reveals in answer to that question. It might be a flashback, or something you hear or see or read soon after that feels meaningful. It often reveals deep truth. Dwell on that insight from the strength of your older, wiser Self. Importantly, notice how you feel after the reveal.
  9. Next time a similar situation occurs, observe your response. Is it the same, deeper/stronger, neutral, or something else?

Taking command of your responses to life in this way is satisfying and empowering. There is so much to be gained from diminishing the whimsical impact of external forces.

** This is just one of many ways to inquire more deeply into why we are the way we are. This method, taught to me by  my mentor, may not suit all people. It’s not always appropriate to continue reaching back into past disturbances. This can reinforce old triggers. See my blog on yogic mindfulness for another way to clear your ‘psychic mess’. 

Warmly,

Liv

Join us  for Winter yoga (begins Tuesday 17 July). We’re taking time to reflect and go deeper.

Liv Mitchell

Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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Feeling challenged? Here’s what you can do

 

Sometimes Life’s challenges flow thicker and faster than we feel we have the capacity to handle. Here are some simple  practices I follow to get through. 

  • I acknowledge that it’s more than I feel capable of handling and compassionately accept my reality.
  • I release the need to resolve the matter (or matters) all at once. It will take the time it takes. 
  • Gratitude practice – I ponder all the things I can be deeply grateful for: a roof, clothing, food, running water.
  • I linger in moments of great beauty around me until feelings of anger, injustice or anxiety dissipate.
  • Cultivating contentment by reflecting on what is good – friends, health, successful and happy times past, how little I need to be content, access to Nature, the blessing of a Life that forges resilience.
  • I allow myself to be happy, despite the issues , even if it’s only for a few minutes.
  • I remind myself that I am in control of my response to Life.
  • Visualising things I’d like to enjoy in my life changes my chemistry and perception of what is possible.
  • Doing something that soothes me (beach walk, bath, read a book, mat practice).
  • Call upon a friend, or actively distract myself in pleasurable or therapeutic activity (cleaning! decluttering!) until I can return with a more able attitude.

Warmly,
Liv

 Term 2 yoga begins next week. Autumn practices to ground & release. Join us 🙂
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Liv Mitchell

Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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Spring into Yoga!

I’ve done hard-bodied yoga with a humourless teacher and gently coo-ing classes with a sweet despairing one, flowing postures with an Earth Mother and cocooned myself in the comforting routine and community of one tradition. If you’ve lapsed over winter and are keen to get your mat rolling with a new class this Spring, here are some shopping tips… read more…

Liv Mitchell

Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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