How To Do Inquiry

The first step of doing Inquiry is to identify your stressful thoughts or beliefs.  This is best done by putting your thoughts in writing.  You may download a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet and fill it out, or just use paper to journal. Think of a person whom you haven’t forgiven 100%.  Who makes you angry, sad, or confused?  Find your judgments and write them down.  Be as petty and childish as possible; this is an opportunity to meet your stressful thoughts just as they are.  How do you want the person to change?  What do you need them to do in order for you to be happy?  This exercise can be thought of as a meditation; it is important to listen quietly for your own thoughts. Then write them down, just as they appear in your mind.  When we see our thoughts on paper, it is easier to work with them.

Next, The Four Questions and Turnarounds.
Now we question the thoughts that we’ve identified in the first step.  Take one thought at a time, and apply these questions:

1.     Is it true?
The invitation is to listen quietly for your own answer, a simple yes or no.  Either is fine.  Notice if you have the wish to explain, or go into story.  And then come back to the inquiry, and wait for the yes or no.  If you answer no, move to question 3.

2.     Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Again, listen quietly for your own truth, a yes or a no.  Can you know what’s best for someone else?  Can you know that you would be happier if you got what you wanted?

3.     How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
How does believing this thought affect your life, your emotions?  How you feel in your body?  How do you treat yourself and others when you’re believing the thought?  Notice what images come.

4.     Who would you be without the thought?
Close your eyes and drop your story just for a moment.  Notice, how would your life look different if you didn’t believe this thought?  How does your body feel?  Who would you be without your story?

Turn the thought around.
The last step is to turn the thought around to the opposite, to the self, and to the other.  For example, the original concept, “John doesn’t listen to me” turns around to “John does listen to me”, “I don’t listen to me” and “I don’t listen to John”.  Find at least three specific examples of how each turnaround is as true or truer than the original belief.  The turnarounds are not about self-blame, they are about shifting our perspective to find in ourselves what we project onto others.  The way we expect them to change, we would also like to change.  Be gentle with yourself; feel your mind opening to your deeper truth.  From this place comes an experience of peace.

Click here to learn about experiencing a facilitated session of Inquiry.