How to Use Contemplative Inquiry to Answer Any Question
What if there is a technique that gives you direct access to deep insight and the answer to any question?
No, I don’t mean some super-advanced AI technology, unless, of course, you are talking about the high-powered, bio-energetic, information system that is in your body. Yes, your body houses an advanced higher-intelligence network. You have the ability to tap into the infinite intelligence of the One Life we all share and gather the intuitive information you need, right when you need it.
In fact, this intuitive information system is operating all the time — you just might not be aware of its messages or know how to read its signals. In “Contemplative Inquiry,” you relax your body, calm your emotions, and quiet your mind, so you can tap into deeper intuitive knowing. As Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson say in their book Meditation: An In-Depth Guide, “Contemplation is an age-old technique that goes beyond the rational, scientific mind in a way that provides access to the intuitive wisdom of the inner self.” (p. 339, MAIG)
How to Practice Contemplative Inquiry
You practice Contemplative Inquiry in a light meditative state. So, first, it can be helpful to setup a quiet, private environment. Next, you can use your favorite meditative technique to relax your body, focus your mind, and settle into open, clear, spacious awareness. Within this open, clear, spacious awareness, you’ll float a question or inquiry. Then, you’ll mindfully notice what arises, see where it leads, and write down what you discover.
Contemplative Inquiry can be useful for:
*exploring limiting beliefs related to emotional upsets and bad habits
*making decisions and setting goals
*gaining insight about root causes and next steps
*discovering insight about “who you are” and “what you are here to do”
*finding answers to any practical question
If you’d like to see how this works, take a moment to tune into the space of your heart and ask, “What is most important for me to know right now?”
It could be a small issue that is pressing at the moment or a chronic life pattern for which you’d like guidance. Choose anything that appeals to you at this time — anything you feel an inner pull to know more about.
You don’t have to choose perfectly — and you can repeat this process any time and as many times as you want with other questions or to gain deeper insight into the same inquiry.
Next, state your inquiry as simply and clearly as possible.
Well-stated inquiries lead to useful responses, such as “What will I do about such and such?” “What is the message in this experience?” “What is important to know about ______?” “Is it safe to do this?” and “What is my higher purpose in this situation?” versus questions that lead you to ruminate and feel disempowered such as “Why is this happening to me?” and “How can I make them stop doing this?”
Go ahead and form one inquiry to work with. . .
Once you have one inquiry in mind, is there any research that would help with this inquiry? Is there any information you need to gather? Knowing some pertinent information can seed or “prime” associations for your contemplative practice. Research is not required, but it can be helpful.
Keep in mind that insights may or may not appear immediately during a first session. In fact, this type of contemplative practice engages and seeds the deeper layers of your mind to start working on answers and insights that may appear in the hours, days, or weeks after you initiate your inquiry. So, keep your eyes, ears, and feelings open and pay attention to insights arriving in your daily life, your dreams, and your interactions with others.
You may receive images or insights that don’t make clear sense at first, but as you contemplate them more, they reveal new insights. So, have a pen and paper handy to jot down or sketch anything of importance during your session and in hours, days, and weeks ahead. Some inquiries will reveal answers and insights in layers as you repeat this process, increase your awareness, and grow your inner sensing skills over time.
Once you have a clear inquiry and you’ve gathered any readily-available, pertinent information, set a time limit for your practice. I suggest you also allow several minutes for journaling at the end of this session.
With these preliminaries in place, you can follow along by reading and following the steps listed below.
Instructions for Contemplative Inquiry
Sit comfortably upright in a quiet, private environment with the soles of your feet flat on the floor and parallel with each other. Rest your hands in your lap, palms cupped upward, one resting in the other, in a receptive posture with your thumbs touching.
Focus down into the soles of both feet and feel the contact with the floor or ground underneath you. Allow your feet to soften and relax, as if they are melting down into the ground.
Focus into your palms and fingers, and allow them to soften and relax, as if they are melting down into your legs. As your palms and fingers relax, allow your shoulder to relax down.
Imagine a string attached to the top of your head, drawing your spine gently upright, giving you a feeling of dignity and empowerment.
Tuck your chin slightly, releasing any tension in the back of your neck.
Smile, a subtle smile, of appreciation and gratitude for this moment to consciously relax and connect with deep inner wisdom. Allow the feeling of smiling to relax your face, your jaw, your eyes, and your eyebrows. Allow the feeling of smiling to wash down through your whole body, creating a positive inner environment.
Take a few slow, deep breaths, imagining your whole body is filling up as you inhale and your whole body is emptying out as you exhale. Enjoy the gentle easy rhythm of your breathing.
Now, feel your body as a whole from the inside. Feel the entire space inside your skin. Allow a sensation of open, clear, spacious awareness to fill your whole body. Rest in the feeling of open, clear, spacious awareness. . .
In this open, clear, spacious awareness call your inquiry to mind. State your inquiry silently or out loud. Float your inquiry in the open, clear, space . . .
Notice any feelings or resistance surrounding your inquiry and allow them to be O.K. . .
Imagine your inquiry is sinking like a fishing line deep into the waters of inner wisdom or rising like a balloon up into the heavens, whichever appeals to you, or both at once.
See if you can stay present with your inquiry, without rushing to have an answer. Allow it to resonate within you and send out lines to gather information and insight. . .
If you find your mind distracted, you can restate your inquiry. Otherwise, see if it’s possible to simply stay open, present, and pay attention to anything that arises. . .
When something comes to mind, whether it’s a thought, feeling, image, or sensation, feel into it. Does it feel like inner knowing? Does it resonate with what your heart knows to be true?
Sometimes a response can be very simple and direct, like an answer to a “Yes/No” question. Sometimes what you get seems strange, unrelated, or unexpected. Sometimes, it will be a clue or an image that leads you to inquire further and ask deeper questions. Sometimes, you feel a prompt to action that leads to new insight. Sometimes you just feel blank, which is a sign you are accessing deeper layers of awareness.
Whenever you feel the need to refocus, simply state your inquiry again and stay present, open, and non-judgmentally aware. . . Rest in the feeling of open, clear, spacious awareness. . . Notice anything that arises. . .
You can continue on as long as you wish or you can set an intention that this information gathering process will continue after you conclude your session.
When you are ready, write down anything that feels important to take away from this period of Contemplative Inquiry. Can you sum up what you discovered? Are there any actions you feel inspired to take? Is there more for you to research, learn, and discover? Take intuitive awareness with you and pay attention to what Life reveals. You’ll know the accuracy of intuitive wisdom by the results in your life.