We looked at how Samyama works in the lesson “The Workings Of Samyama“. Please review that lesson prior to moving ahead with this one. This is a slightly more advanced technique and will be helpful to those of us who have experienced some degree of inner silence and have practiced the core Samyama practice for a bit, or any other practice that works with inner silence and letting go.
As we get past the mechanical phase of samyama, and we begin to get familiar with the two main components of samyama, the letting go of a thought/word into stillness and the outward movement of the stillness that happens during the practice of samyama, then we can begin to apply the technique of samyama to many of our other practices. One such application is samyama and self inquiry.
It does not matter what kind of self-inquiry we practice; what is important is that we practice self-inquiry, when inner intuition lets us know we are ready to do so. The reason for this is very simple, yet very fundamental, and it is one that can shave years off our journey to Living Unbound in reality. The reason that practicing self-inquiry is important is that while our daily sitting practices (meditation, breathing) clear out the neuro-physiological issues which keep the ideas of our non-wholeness and separation in place, there is limited benefit to this facet of daily practice, alone. Why? Because while we’re making positive changes in terms of our neuro-physiology, we’re undoing those changes by re-creating those very same issues, via our conditioned thinking and behavior in our day-to-day lives.
There is a saying: “Sewing with one hand, while unstitching with the other”. This saying refers to this dynamic that we’re discussing here (benefiting ourselves with daily practices, undoing those benefits with our thoughts and behaviors in daily life). How does this work? Very simply: the ego-centric body-mind stores impressions (memories) of events, based on the magnitude of association with either pleasure or pain. Daily practices help to undo the conditioning of a lifetime in this regard. However, we tend to operate from this limitation-based conditioning during the rest of our daily life (meaning: we react to people and situations with the same kinds of conditioned evaluations, in general, that we have, over most of our lives, based on our personality, culture, family of origin, and so on). We tend to do this less and less as the momentum of daily practices hits exponential levels, but this dynamic (sewing with one hand while unstitching with the other) is still present, and still delays our experience of Living Unbound, in reality, especially in the earlier phases of our daily practices. Which is where this lesson comes in.
And where self-inquiry comes in. Self-inquiry helps us to both identify and release the erroneous views which block our awareness of our inherent wholeness and unity, thereby supporting and augmenting the clearing that we do in our daily practices. There are many of us who, unfortunately, meditate for ten or twenty years, only to find that our lives are plagued by some of the same erroneous view which plagued us when we started. There’s no reason for this; sitting practices can take us to Living Unbound in reality, in a fairly short period of time, if we allow them to do so. One of the most powerful ways we can allow them to do so, is to practice self-inquiry in our daily lives.
And so, again, it does not matter what kind of self-inquiry we practice; it can be The Living Unbound style of identifying mind stories and letting go, or Byron Katie’s style of asking four questions and letting go or the advaitic way of asking “who am I” and letting go, but adding some self-inquiry to our lives along with meditation, will help us experience the joys of Living Unbound that much more quickly.
Samyama and Self Inquiry:
And so, let’s take a look at how we can combine the practice of samyama with the practice of self-inquiry.
Living Unbound: Identifying mind stories: As we go about our day, and we feel a moment of discomfort, we identify the mind story (see Living Unbound: Identifying Mind Stories) that is causing the discomfort, and we drop the story into stillness, exactly as we do with the other samyama sutras in our daily practices (the only difference being: with inquiry-samyama, we’re not sitting in meditation, but going about our day, and we’re doing the samyama with a reaction, rather than with a proactive intention; other than that, though, the mechanics of the practice are essentially identical). We do it again and again as a given reaction comes up naturally. We do not keep the story or the emotion in place just so we can practice this technique, but when the emotion or the story comes up organically, we see it and we drop it into the stillness. So we don’t make the emotion stronger by thinking about it, we just bring it up and before the mind can grab it and make it a full-fledged story, we drop it into stillness.
Because releasing into silence puts us in touch with our inner stillness, beyond the reflections and reactions of surface thinking. We suddenly have “broadband access” to our deepest levels of will and awareness, if only we will stay out of our own way by allowing our awareness to rest in silence, after we have released the thought or feeling, using the samyama technique. This can be difficult at first, but with practice and faith (trusting the process and the answers that come up from this stillness) it gets easier and more natural.
Byron Katie’s Work: We ask the question, “Is it true?” and drop it into stillness. We don’t try to find an answer. We let the stillness give us the answer. Many times, thinking mind will not know what the answer is, or it will try to generate a reactive answer, but there will be an inner, intuitive knowing, regarding the solution. When this technique works, the 4 questions really become just 1 question. “Is it true?”, and instead of “how would I feel if I did not have this thought” and “Can I turn it around”, you just drop it on the inside, and let the sea of inner silence and wisdom provide the answer as and when it does. This takes some faith in the beginning, but soon enough, it becomes an inherent part of our conscious living, and eventually, of Living Unbound in reality.
Advaitic Technique: This is a sitting practice and is to be done along with the core samyama practice. This has been explained beautifully in Yogani’s lesson Adding Self-Inquiry to Core Samyama Practice: “In addition to the 9 words/sutras Love, Radiance, Unity, Health, Strength, Abundance, Wisdom, Inner Sensuality, Akasha – Lightness of Air, we add a new sutra – “I-thought – Who am I?”. The procedure is the same. We pick each word/sutra and let it go in stillness for 15 seconds. We do this twice with each word/sutra. At the end of the 9 sutras we pick the words/sutra “I-thought – Who am I?” and drop it into stillness for 15 sec then pick it up again, and drop it into stillness”.
This Samyama-Self Inquiry variation involves picking up a question, problem, an emotion, a feeling, or a thought that may be bothering us and releasing it into stillness. We pick it up at a “fuzzy” level, before it becomes a concrete thought/feeling and before the reactions of thinking mind can grab the thought or feeling, and make a story out of it, or give it a logical answer. Then, as always, with samyama techniques, we release the thought or feeling into inner silence. At first the dropping can be by just stopping the thought and being in the stillness of non-thinking, even if it just for a few seconds. As we continue with this practice, the process will become more organic, wherein we will pick up the thought/emotion and let the stillness dissolve it. In the process, and sometimes later, at a different point in our day, answers will arise from that same inner stillness. We have all experienced this experience of answers arising from stillness at some time or the other in out lives. It’s called intuition, those times when we have known the answer to something from within; knowing that we know, without knowing how we know. This is our inner stillness, the depths of our consciousness, speaking to us. By doing self inquiry samyama style, we are tapping into the our stillness, where intuition arises, and hence taking self inquiry to a new level of knowing; true unitive knowing, beyond the limitations of thinking mind; the freedom beyond imagination that is actually, ever Living Unbound in reality.
- Living Unbound: Dissolving Emotional Reactions In Reality
- Living Unbound: Identifying Mind Stories
- Living Unbound: Accepting Reality
Level 2 Teachings