Inquiry Method Training

Hi! This is Olivia and I just recently joined the Inquiry Method team. This week’s blog is my reflection on the amazing Inquiry Method Training that I participated in this past weekend.

The Inquiry Method Training is a four-month course that kicked off with an in-person retreat in Venice Beach, California. Twelve students have committed to diving deeply into Kyle Mercer’s philosophy. I’m new to these teachings, but not to personal development and because of my experience I can recognize Truth. Truth, with a capital T, is what I call the path to being in alignment with Source. As Kyle says, you can feel it when you read a book, listen to a teaching, or watch a video and you can feel there is Truth in it. This weekend was packed full of Truth.

In other programs that I’ve done and other experiences that I’ve had the instructor always spoke of a life of wonderful possibilities but didn’t create a map to the end result. These other teachers spoke of releasing pain in order the create the life you long for but never showed you how. Kyle filled in that gap in knowledge for me beautifully. What’s more, his process is simple, reproducible and has a deep sense of safety built into it.

Kyle starts each event talking about Sanctuary, a promise we make to each other to hold safety as our top priority. While I sometimes like being pushed by teachers or coaches I can’t describe the feeling that washed over me the first night. Kyle started by looking at each one of us in the eye and telling us that he was safe for us. The container that he held wrapped me up, holding me in tender loving care until the last moment of the retreat. I was able to relax in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. Kyle not only held that space for us but taught us how to bring this model of non-judgment, curiosity, and care back to our communities and lives.

This retreat represents a new phase of growth for the company, a movement forward into creating a Life at Altitude, a realization of one’s deepest desires. Although there was releasing of pain that happened during the course of the weekend that wasn’t the main focus. The real motivation for the retreat was the dissemination of the Inquiry Method to those who would make the greatest impact.

The training was mainly comprised of coaches or aspiring coaches who came to learn inquiry tools to take back to their clients. I am a doula or birth coach and although I will use it in my practice I’m even more excited to see how it impacts the relationships in every facet of my life.

This training helped me to be more selfless than ever before. Tony Robbins says that suffering only occurs when a person is focused on themselves. Turning my attention outward allowed me to get out of my own head and hold space for another’s healing. It was a win-win.

Kyle helped instill in me a level of curiosity and openness that I didn’t know was possible. His method helped me get out of the trap of teaching and advocating and back into a childlike sense of wonder. I cannot wait to see how the process of Inquiry Method shifts my relationships and enhances my life. This is only the third day after the training and I already feel like I’m experiencing more flow than ever before. I’ve had the pleasure of allowing the river of life to have its way with me. I’ve stopped resisting the current, started to open, and I can’t wait to see what is waiting around the bend.

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.

The Deepest Practice

I have clients who I have worked with as a coach for years and we explore and find amazing areas for growth, for release, and for understanding. The process of coaching, in a short burst, often heals or resolves an immediate issue, but in a longer term coaching relationship, what I notice, is that the client gradually develops a new way of seeing and being in the world that is profound, and there is no limit.

I’ve also noticed that the clients who eventually incorporate their relationship into their coaching get opened up to a whole other level of discovery and understanding. Couples coaching is amazing because its no longer just the client and I working with their own perception of themselves. When we bring in the person in the relationship there is a whole other level of reflection, accountability and feedback that we get to work with. This often takes things to the next level for both people and for the relationship.

Relationship, especially primary relationship, is one of the most challenging practices there is. If you notice, many deeply spiritual people go into monasteries, and they can develop a relationship with themselves or whatever they consider the universe or god. The giving up or renunciation of relationship, money or business, things that make life a struggle, may accelerate that opportunity to experience the transcendent or the spiritual.

Most of us, however, or most of you reading this blog, would be considered in the Vedic tradition as “householders”. Meaning that we are operating businesses, we are in relationship, that we are raising children. We have beautiful and challenging parts of our life to learn from. Business itself can be an amazing teacher and practice, as well as parenting. And, as many of us know, the direct connection with another person in a primary relationship can be a very powerful (and challenging) practice.

I put them in the category of practice, because we often think of them as something to meet our needs or fill our lives, but more than anything they require us to grow and develop ourselves, which makes it a practice. That’s why Inquiry Method is such a powerful tool for self-discovery, but also for developing, refining and amplifying relationships. The more you can bring Inquiry to any of your relationships, in particular, your primary relationship, the more you can practice discovering love, discovering connection, and discovering the capacity in yourself to open to one of the great challenges of life.

 


We are in the process of scheduling all of our coaching clients for the next 6 months. Email us if you’d like to learn more about coaching with Kyle on a regular basis.

Question and Answer: Change within a Relationship

You can’t change another person. That is one of the unfortunate, and yet universal truths. Sometimes, you can inspire another person to change. Being motivated is always impacted by the perception, “what’s in it for me?”.

On the other hand, there is one person who you are 100% empowered to change, and that’s you. In any relationship, whether it’s personal or in business, I like to tell people to take 100% responsibility. Take 100% responsibility for the business or 100% responsibility for the relationship. I am always looking to create a vision for a relationship that is inspired by the other person’s motivations or by adapting myself to what is or what’s true about the other person.

The most potent example of the first is a “want for us”. This is what I work with during a corporate or a relationship renewal. Whenever I’m in a primary romantic relationship with someone, I always like to whether it’s just for a vacation or long-term, come to a shared understanding of the “want for us”. Meaning, what is the want for us, what are we working towards together? When I can get clear about the “want for us” the relationship feels easy. When I can’t get clear about it, it feels hard or difficult. It’s even harder if we’re trying to achieve, experience, or do different things. In a case where we can’t come to a “want for us” or the other person is uninterested or unwilling to participate in a “want for us” in the way I want them to, the only other option is to accept them just the way they are.

That can sometimes be miraculous. Sometimes when I accept someone just the way they are, and get behind who they are, I find things open up and possibilities appear that never would have otherwise.

A relationship is always positive if we are oriented toward the want for us. Practice with your partner. When you wake up, before you go about your morning, discuss the “want for us” for the morning.

It could be, “Well I have a lot going on so let’s do our own thing and go our own way, but I want 5 minutes to have coffee with you and kiss you good-bye.”

The other person can say, “Actually there are some important things we need to get done. I would like help figuring out dinner so that I can go shopping for it and I’m also missing your attention. I’d like you to put your attention on me. I’d like for you to rub my neck and take some time for me.”

Then the other person may say, “I can get into that”, or not, but the goal is to get aligned.

So the want for us could be an overarching desire for your life together or it can be broken down into the want for the morning, the evening, or any of your time together.

Another example could be making decisions like buying a new refrigerator. Imagine this dialogue:

One person might say, “I want to buy the coolest refrigerator ever!”

And the other person might say, “I want to save some money. I’d like to spend under $300. I guess we better get aligned with what we are shooting for. Can we find a cool fridge for under $300?”

“Oh, I guess I hadn’t really thought about that. Are we running out of money?”

“Yeah, we don’t really have a lot of money this month, but we do need a fridge.”

“Oh, well maybe we could find a used one.”

Anytime we can get in alignment the smoother things will be. For example, you can decide on a “want for us” on vacation. If one person wants to relax and the other wants to go on adventures you should probably get clear on the “want for us”. Here is dialogue that could happen around that:

It can get really powerful when you go deeper, like, “I just really want this to amplify our connection to each other.”

The other person might say, “Oh I guess I hadn’t really even thought about that. I just thought we were going on vacation.”

“On the flight there let’s imagine different things we could do or different ways we could approach this trip so that it would amplify our connection to each other.”

Then, throughout the trip, when you go to do things, check in. “Should we go parasailing? Would that amplify our connection?”

“I guess not. It seems like the jungle hike would really achieve that.”

Anytime you can catalyze something around a “want for us” it’s really powerful. Anytime you step into any of these conversations it helps you clarify the relationship more and more.

The alternative to coming to a “want for us” is the choice to accept the other person the way they are.

Inquiry Magic

Today I want to focus on an aspect of Inquiry Method and the distinction of Inquiry Method as a practice between two people.

You can use this practice in any situation, from informal to formal.

The formal form includes setting up sanctuary, having one person hold the space of inquiry, and having one person hold the space of self-reflection.

In both positions, we start from a position of not knowing. It is the same willingness to not know that occurs in both positions. The person in the inquiry position doesn’t know about the person who is being inquired upon. And the person in the self-reflection position starts from not knowing about themselves. Everyone is equally curious. The principle of inquiry method is to understand together, to co-learn, to co-reveal.

When I’m in the place of inquiry, I’m revealing my ignorance about what it is like to be the other person. When I’m in the position of self-reflection, I’m willing to reveal my ignorance about myself.

The better we can do this together with an open nonjudgmental sense of wonder and curiosity, the more will be revealed. The more we develop our capacity toward this practice, the more it starts to seem like magic.

As an added bonus, this practice will develop an intuitive, empathetic quality that will give you information about yourself and others, even outside the practice. It’s a powerful muscle that will develop as you exercise it.

Living a Desire Based Life

I recommend a life based on desire. But, how do we know what we want? How do we get to know ourselves?

To get to know your desires, you tap into your source. Get quiet, wait, and see what you desire. Don’t put your attention on your mind or your emotions. Just wait. And, some desire will pop up.

Try it now, ask yourself: What’s one thing you’d like to get out of today?

It’s not a thought, not a should, not a reaction to the emotional body. It comes from your source. Get quiet, and wait for a desire to pop up. This is the best way to tap into who you are.

You might be thinking that you don’t know. But, you can actually tap into what you desire. Just be patient, you can always find a desire somehow/someway.

Acknowledging desire goes against everything we’ve been taught, particularly for the feminine. But, my recommendation is to honor and recognize your desires. It’s an unfolding and opening process to acknowledge them.

Here is a great exercise for acknowledging desires:

Sit down and start writing them down. I desire… I desire… I desire… Or, have a friend do desire pulling with you. Either way, do it for 20 full minutes. Have them ask “What do you desire?” over and over and each time just say the first thing that pops into your head. Get really free with it, like nobody is watching or listening. Don’t monitor it.

It could be a donut or a coffee, but the farther you get into the feel of it, the more deeper things will come up. And, you’ll feel yourself connecting with your deeper desires.   

For instance, you can play with material outcomes. I desire a new outfit.  I desire a new car. I’d like a million dollars.

But, in Inquiry Method, I’d also ask follow-up questions about what it would mean to you or what it would feel like. That’s where you’ll start to feel the connection to your desires.

And then you can start to recognize and honor them – that you want to feel them, that you want to experience them.

On the other hand, you may find yourself starting to think you can’t have what you desire. That’s ok, too. Once it’s out there, then you can start to work with it. And, it’s amazing, the more you start to bring them out, the more they start happening.

Your desire starts to be a compass point. And as you stay present with it, the desires start growing around you. Just by putting your attention on it.

It starts to get you out of the cage. It’s not necessarily to the end of dissatisfaction, but more to a recognition of what is really true for you – a recognition of what you’d like to feel, or what experience you’d like to have.

Why learn Inquiry Method™?

Most of you have never heard me define what Inquiry Method is, but you have seen me practice it. Inquiry Method is actually a partnered practice that can be done by anyone who understands and has learned the context. We’ll go more into that later – in upcoming posts, online courses, or in Inquiry Method Training.

The beauty and power of inquiry method, almost like and potentially even more powerfully than meditation, is that it teaches you to disidentify with your ego. Besides the direct benefit of what is discovered, there is a powerful and profound transformation in how you identify with who you really are.

One of the unique aspects of this practice, that at the beginning may not seem self-evident, is that the practice is the same whether you are the one asking the questions or you are the one responding to the questions.

The only difference in the positions is where we are putting our attention. In one position, I’m putting my attention on you. And in the other position, you are putting your attention on yourself, but we are both holding the same consciousness and a sense of curiosity and wonder. This is the true goal of the heart of the practice: to develop that view and be able to carry that view into our lives.


If you are interested in learning Inquiry Method and how to hold attention on yourself or others, you may want to check out our upcoming Inquiry Method Training

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

Emptying Out

Emptying out is an important life practice, as we go through our day/lives we accumulate thoughts, impressions, feelings, ideas, hurts, judgments, etc. There is a way that these things start to block our system, like a form of mental or emotional constipation.

It is important to clear our system out regularly to a safe listener. Some people know this consciously or unconsciously and practice it regularly with friends. Others don’t practice it and don’t necessarily value it or understand it. Part of this is that we are often conditioned to fix problems and focus on that, rather than listening.

Fixing is not the point, emptying out and being heard is the point.

I often give the talking stick exercise (practice) to my relationship clients to practice this and create a new dynamic in the relationship. It is wonderful to have a partner to whom you can empty out to. Emptying out feels clean, it clears up your thinking and reasoning and opens up your clogged mind to be free to think about creating things, gratitude, love, socializing, playing, and anything else you would like it to be doing rather than being stuck in endless loops of thinking and perseveration.

Read more about the talking stick exercise in this earlier blog

Loving Myself To Sleep

A crucial part of discovering what it means to love ourselves is finding our capacity to step into our larger self, what I am calling going to a higher level or altitude of consciousness. To do this, we must step out of our emotional or mental self, and step into the part of ourselves that can love and embrace all of our flaws or struggles.

To master this capacity, it is helpful to find ways to practice regularly. There are two things that I have been doing that help me step into my larger self.

The first exercise is to practice loving. I do this by picking an object, a beautiful rock or a flower, or anything else that speaks to me. I intentionally choose something with slight imperfections. I start appreciating it, begin pouring my loving into it, recognizing the beauty and preciousness of it. This is the practice of developing your capacity for love. By recognizing that you can intentionally generate your loving and appreciation for something outside of yourself, you are developing that capacity within yourself. As you get better at it, you can start extending it to things around you all the time. Everything that exists is worthy of love.

The second activity for deepening the capacity for self-love can be done at any time of the day, though I do it at night. As I prepare for bed and get ready to sleep, I step into my larger self and hold myself in the same consciousness that I would hold a stone from the beach. I think about the person who has gone through the day, about what happened mentally, physically, and emotionally and then I just hold him in deep acceptance. In the same way that I can love a stone from the beach or a flower from the garden, I can appreciate this imperfect person in all his aspects. And thus, recognize the beauty of self by going beyond the judgmental part of myself.

This is a different process from what we do in the Mountain or the Freedom Experience. This is not so much about getting better, but more about practicing having unconditional love for ourselves. In a way, it is a step towards reaching the Want-for-Us level. While it is very hard to do if in a lot of mental pain, it is separate from letting go and self-acceptance. In fact, it is of a higher order. Practicing this type of self-loving will support the experience of altitude throughout your life.

To learn more about altitude listen to my podcast: Life at Altitude.