Skillful Collaboration

I have a new dentist.  About halfway through the cleaning, I asked her “how am I doing?”, she looked a little confused and said “you are doing fine” and then after a pause, she asked what I meant.  I asked if I was being a skillful patient. At first surprised, she then became engaged; she said that she had never thought of it that way.  I said that we were on the same team and working toward the same objective, clean teeth, speed, ease, accuracy, and connection.  She said she wished all her patients saw it that way and suggested maybe I could train them.

This is a great example of a moment of level 4 altitude; we were working at a task where we were both focused on the task together and putting our attention on that rather than on ourselves.  I was ignoring any inherent personal discomfort or concerns and putting as much attention on the task and flow as she was.  In fact, my main job was to make her job easier and to be in flow together to get the best outcome.  It is a much more satisfying way of being in the chair.  Every collaborative task can have this feeling and engagement, this is how we behave when we are in a collaborative level of consciousness, it is such a satisfying and productive way to be with others.

I love to coach people who are interested in this same level of collaboration.  In Inquiry Method, the skills of coaching and being coached can be equally skillful activities.  Some of my most satisfying moments in life come from the moments of deep collaboration in coaching, both being coached and coaching.  This is the essence of the upcoming Inquiry Method Training in July.

The other aspect of this insight is to look at the things you do with the perspective of doing them skillfully.  Doing things skillfully does two things:

  1. It is almost like meditation, all your thoughts can be focused on the task or activity. There is true joy in being that engaged in your activity. Instead of being subject to your thoughts you are actually using them for what they are meant for.
  2. Anything you focus on from the perspective of doing them skillfully you get better at, your body and mind learn to be more nimble and focused and you often have insights that develop your capacity.

The whole purpose of Life at Altitude is to experience a more fulfilling and joyful life.  Any place you can combine collaboration and skill: work, play, games, housework, dancing, cooking, sex, communication, growth…, creates more satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy.  Opportunities are all around us.

Question & Answer: How to Begin Your Personal Development Journey

We are starting to do a series of blogs based on questions that have been sent in. The blogs will be created based on dialogue between Olivia and Kyle as he considers the questions.

If you have a question you want to be answered, please email us at info@inquirymethod.com

How do we begin our personal development journey? How do we begin to address those deep childhood wounds?

Consciousness, Letting Go and Altitude

The biggest challenge in the transformational process or the raising of consciousness within the context of Life at Altitude is the ability to recognize what is “I” and what is not “I”. It’s impossible to let go of something that you’re identified with. When someone I work with is identified with their emotional pain they can’t let it go because from the ego’s point of view, it would be suicide.

If I’m identified with my anger, “I am angry”, then I identify as that thing and my consciousness and my awareness are so focused on the anger that I can’t see anything else. In colloquial terms, it’s called “seeing red”. If I am looking at life through anger, as anger, there is no way to let it go. In Inquiry Method, when we’re working with something like anger or sadness, grief, loss or fear, we have to raise up the level of consciousness to, “I feel angry”. If I can get to the place where I recognize “I feel angry” then I am no longer identified with the anger and have, with a little bit of training or re-training, the capacity to let it go. That is the same for any pain or emotional trigger that you have. If you can get separate from it then you can let it go.

Beyond identification with emotions, we can also identify with a belief, idea, or self-image. Whatever self-image we are identified with is difficult to let go of or dis-identify with because we think we are that. Somebody who thinks they are a victim or believes in their victimhood rarely can get out of that mindset until they realize they are just playing the role of a victim. The same goes for when someone believes in their power, their authority, or their importance. It’s hard for people who have been very successful, such as CEOs or presidents of organizations, to let go of their identification with the importance of their station. However, each one of these titles can be a trap. Once we identify with some egoic position, like importance or lack of importance, it’s very hard to let go of – until we can raise our consciousness to the level where we recognize we are just playing a role or a game and that it is not us.

It’s the same with drive. We can identify with whatever drive we have. It is really hard to see myself or see things accurately when I am driven toward anything. It could be a drive toward relationships, toward love, toward money, etc.

The whole key of transformation is to recognize that A) you are not your emotions, B) you are not your thoughts, C) you are not your drives. By developing the skill and capacity to recognize the difference, we become more flexible and more able to transform our lives. We can lift our experience of life into realms that are beyond our current experience.

Consensual Intimacy

In the same way sexual consent is important, in Inquiry Method there is a range of intimacy and the depth of that intimacy should also be consensual.

If the intimacy reached through Inquiry Method is nonconsensual, it can sometimes feel like a violation. That is why we like to set up containers or an environment or sanctuary in which to practice Inquiry Method.

Obviously, inquiry on a casual basis does not necessarily need to be overtly consensual but you want to watch very carefully as you are practicing asking deeper and more intimate questions to notice if your inquiry partner is responding as if they are being violated. Some people are harder tells and it is better to practice caution.

Consent in Inquiry Method is very simple. It can be as simple as, with a casual acquaintance, asking if they mind if you ask them a question: “Would you mind if I asked you a question?” In more formal Inquiry Method, we want to set up safe containers. We may ask someone if they would like to practice Inquiry Method together. Within that container, there are different levels of formally declaring sanctuary- from simply saying it’s my intention to be safe for you, to even repeating the sanctuary context from the Mountain Experience overtly. Even within a formal Inquiry Method container that is fully consensual, we may still find ourselves asking questions like – “Do you mind if I ask about your childhood?” or “Would you like me to ask questions to go deeper?”

You may find consensual based Inquiry Method to be particularly useful and poignant with children and partners. Watch your children when you ask them penetrating questions, and notice when you have pushed into a non-consensual boundary. Try it out this week, watch for any violation, ask for permission and see if you don’t actually get deeper connection and deeper opening when you practice safety and permission in this way.

Inquiry as an Approach to Life

Inquiry Method™ is not just a technique for interacting with people or addressing deeper personal issues, but also an approach to life in general.

A while ago, I spoke with some teachers who had talked about our minds as ego and emotions. They referred to how our minds are constantly wanting to put things into the categories of good and bad, positive and negative. So, when we are in our minds, we are always interpreting everything around us from this quality of good and bad. When I heard that, I thought to myself that if I dropped the discernment between good and bad and stopped putting things into those categories, then my life would be neutral.

I thought I would test it, so I imagined that I would drop all good and bad and see if life would be neutral. I was very surprised to find that life was far from neutral. When I looked at it from that perspective of the elimination of good and bad, I was aware of just the miracle of life and even the miracle of existence.

The idea that, out of nothingness, all this appeared, that I even exist, the world exists, this planet exists, the universe exists is truly just an incredible miracle.

I began to understand the deeper, maybe religious or spiritual understanding, or even the practical understanding of the true appreciation, gratitude, and experience of life. This is what was so shocking from breaking the habit of putting things into categories of good and bad; I switched into having wonder, awe, and amazement for just being here.

Any time I remember and bring myself to that place again, I am stunned by the existence of my consciousness, the existence of life, the planet, plants and animals, things that happen, things that come into my life. Cars and cell phones, raindrops, everything starts to take on a quality of wonder.

Innocence and wonder are at the heart of the inquiry approach to life. We are so used to focusing on our wantiness and drives and feeling like there should be something more to life; Inquiry Method TM instead guides us to finding a quality of deep appreciation and acknowledgment in life. Because, when I am out of wantiness, neediness, and exchange, I can be present for my day without needing it to be different. And from that place, I can just be curious and engage in life with a sense of wonder.

Wonder is such a beautiful word that combines a sense of curiosity with a sense of awe; awe implying awareness of beauty, awareness of serendipity, awareness of magic, and even awareness of surprise about life.

On Contemplation

I’m sitting here thinking about life at altitude and what practices are associated with it. Obviously, Inquiry Method is the primary practice associated with life at altitude, but there are other practices that are going to come out over the ensuing months that if included in your life, really support life at altitude.

You may have heard of meditation, and meditation is certainly a huge support to life at altitude. But, there’s another thing that is similar, but totally different called “Contemplation”.

You could say contemplation is another form of meditation, but it’s not quite the same thing. Contemplation is like meditation in that it’s a quiet solo process, and it’s better without any distractions and better with time set aside for it. But, meditation essentially means a singular focus. So, you can meditate on an object, you can meditate on your thoughts, you can meditate on stillness. So, meditating just means – singular focus. Contemplation is different.

Contemplation is also similar to Inquiry Method, but Inquiry Method requires a partner and contemplation is something you do on your own.

The difference between thinking about something and contemplation is that thinking about something often gets you into a loop of thoughts- like judgments, or if you are thinking about somebody- you may think about all your judgments or what you don’t like about them, or what the problem at work is. That would be thinking and it’s a closed loop- stuck system.

Contemplation is a meta-activity, meaning it is an activity of looking at something from a more separated point of view. So, like Inquiry Method, you get into a state of reflection and you’re looking at yourself from a higher level of consciousness, from a sense of inquiry and curiosity, asking “what’s behind that?” You’d be asking yourself: what’s bothering me about that, how can I get in approval of that, what am I not seeing about that, how am I creating that situation- so that you’re looking at the larger perspective of things. It’s amazing to get into contemplation.

Just sitting here this morning, there was something coming up for me. I could just feel that I was carrying stress and I was carrying some tension. And, with my willingness to go into contemplation and get into that higher level of consciousness, I was quickly able to see that there were two things going on.

  • One is that I had some stuff stuck in me that needed to be unpacked and emptied out. Things that I was holding that just needed another person’s ear just to empty out. Just to say “oh this is going on for me”. We just had a blog on emptying out, which is wonderful practice. You can read it here
  • The second thing I could recognize is that I had a block. I was noticing that I had more creative expensive energy than my mind would allow and so in my contemplation, I could see “oh, my mind is limiting the amount of energy that can flow through my body and the creativity and it’s just a little jammed up” and then that gives me an opportunity to start to look into what are the thoughts and beliefs and ideas that restrict that and create that kind of backed up feeling inside my body.

So, I recommend trying it out, try a contemplation practice. Get into a state of reflection and get to where you are looking at yourself from a higher level of consciousness, from a sense of inquiry and curiosity, asking yourself “what’s behind that?”

And, also see if you can discern the difference between contemplation and thinking. See if you can discern the difference between meditation and contemplation. And, really see if you can get into that higher level of consciousness; in the levels, we call it “Level 4 – consciousness towards yourself”. It’s the level of altitude which allows self-inquiry to happen.


We just started sending out daily prompts for contemplation. If you’d like to get these in your inbox each morning, you can sign up here: http://bit.ly/dailyinq

Read more about contemplation here

The Big 5 of a Better Life

Awareness
Is simply noticing things, it is what we choose to bring our attention and
consciousness to. You have the power to choose what you become aware of
and what you give your attention to. This is one of your most powerful allies
in how you experience, evolve and construct your life.

Perspective
The filters through which our consciousness sees the world, how you are
interpreting what you are aware of. Perspective limits and can modify your
awareness. Getting new, more expansive perspectives will powerfully
upgrade what you can do with your awareness and how you are able to
participate in your life.

Consciousness
Is the active part of ourselves, what we are present to, what we call agency;
our power to choose and act in alignment with our most authentic self.
Conscious behavior is in contrast to unconscious behavior. As we grow our
consciousness, conscious behavior takes over more of our lives and
unconscious behaviors are diminished, we feel more empowered and alive.

Feedback
Is information that comes in from the outside as a result of our conscious and
unconscious behaviors. By bringing awareness to the feedback we are
receiving we get a mirror to the impact of our behavior and have the
opportunity to change conscious behavior, grow and change our perspective,
and possibly bring unconscious behavior to light.

Inquiry
Is a tool for working with feedback and exploring our own awareness,
perspective, and consciousness. It is also a way to explore relationships and
interactions with others without interference from our own perspective.
Inquiry can be a method for supporting others to become aware of their own
unconscious behaviors, beliefs, and perspectives. Inquiry brings light into
unexplored places.