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Going deeper

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Inquiry is all about going deeper and not just staying on the surface. The deeper we go, the better we start to feel. This of course goes against our conditioning because we fear going deeper, as if we will feel worse if we do (all the scary movies we grow up with certainly don’t help). Fortunately, the truth is quite the opposite. There are layers to the patterns that cause our suffering, and if we just stay on the surface then nothing gets resolved. There’s also no awareness of why we suffer so much. But the deeper we go, the more it makes sense where all the suffering comes from and at the same time stops feeling so true. We feel more and more free. Especially if we can make it down to the root of the pattern which is usually a need for love or safety.

For example, if all that we are aware of is a fear of failure, a need to do well and succeed, etc. then that’s all we’ll know. You may try to understand this fear by going through your memories. When did it start? Why am I like this? How do I stop being so afraid of failure? You’ll try to control this fear somehow by altering your behavior or your thoughts, but nothing ever truly works. Worst of all, you may now have shame and embarrassment about this fear because it really shouldn’t be this way, which only makes you feel worse.

But say you do inquiry with this fear. You first want to acknowledge the resistance to being a failure and allowing that. Maybe it’s “I hate being a failure,” so you connect with those words and allow them. Then, once the resistance is more neutral in the body, the word ‘failure’ is also more neutral. Now you can go deeper and see what is underneath this fear of being a failure. You cannot go deeper until what is on the surface is allowed and neutralized (because it’s protecting us).

A good inquiry question you can use to go deeper would be, “what’s the worst that can happen if I am a failure?” You can replace failure with whatever deficiency or resistance pattern you are working with. Another one is “what happens next if this is true?” Ask the question and be patient for the answer. Feel the body and be open to whatever comes up. Remember that we never know what is deeper until we ask and see, so curiosity is very important here. If images come up, be curious about any words. “what does this say about me?”

Most of the time, what is underneath fear of failure is a need to be accepted and liked (see my post on the Big Fears). So maybe something like, the worst that can happen if I fail is that no one will respect me or like me. Now we are aware of what’s underneath failure, and it’s starting to make sense why success is so important.

Each layer will have its own protectors, so when going deeper, you always want to connect with any resistance, otherwise the pattern will stay unresolved and uncomfortable. If we stay with that same example, the need to be liked comes up. We can then notice resistance to that, a sense of “I don’t want to be not liked or rejected.” Feel in and see if that connects. You always want to trust the words that feel right to you. But once you have the right words for the resistance, release happens very quickly.

Then, you can start seeing the connections. Seeing the programming is what really frees us. If you started with “I don’t want to fail” and then underneath it is “I don’t want to be not liked,” then you can take that and notice the utility or benefit of the pattern, something like “in order to be liked, I don’t want to be a failure.” Then allow those words, stay with them, and especially the need to be liked which is the utility of don’t be a failure.

Seeing the pattern in this very clear and matter of fact way will release it very deeply in the body. For sticky patterns, this may require repetition. But sometimes just seeing the connection once is all that’s needed to clear it out. You can just stay with those words a bit until the body is done releasing and it feels neutral. It’s like we are reminding the body of what the programming actually is, and that’s what releases the emotional charge that makes it feel so true and real.

From there, you can then ask again to go deeper, “what’s the worst that can happen if nobody likes me?” See what comes up for you and remember to always allow resistance. In this way, we are getting closer and closer to the root of the pattern. But we are also getting closer to what the pattern is trying to protect, so your mind may find distractions very easily. This is why inquiry can be a challenge at times. Our brains are wired for comfort and safety, not truth. But be patient, and eventually you will get to the more vulnerable layers. Touching into them and allowing the words, and especially the protectors that are trying to push away hurt, find safety, etc. The roots of our suffering as humans are here, waiting to be explored, allowed, and integrated.

The worst that can happen with this work is that you feel some emotional charge in the body that may be labeled as “overwhelming” or “too much.” Be sure to practice your grounding skills here and trust your protectors. If it feels like too much, do some tapping and deep breathing and then take a break. There’s no rush here and pushing through resistance is not going to work. Walk gently here. A good metaphor for working with vulnerable parts is if you are in a park and see a deer in the distance, you don’t want to run quickly toward the deer and scare it away. You want to be gentle and patient and actually let it come to you. If we meet a lot of resistance, it may be a sign that this part of you just isn’t ready to be connected with yet. There is nothing wrong with that.

With time, our bodies will release all of the repressed vulnerable parts of us that are hurt, alone, unloved, and unsafe. Then it will become more clear why there was so much suffering, and as these parts are allowed and integrated, the suffering will simmer down more and more.

Stay curious to what is beneath this or what is this doing for me. Every pattern that comes up, no matter what, (even the most hopeless or scared pattern) is trying to benefit you in some way, otherwise it would not be reinforced. The fact that the pattern recurs is evidence that it's doing something seemingly beneficial, but still at the same time causing difficulty. Like misguided helpers, these patterns are trying to get some relief, safety, love, or peace, but they only perpetuate our suffering. Seeing this clearly is what will integrate and clear up the patterns.

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Sam Roff
Sam Roff
04 Eki 2022

Brilliantly written Michael. Thank you for sharing such a rich understanding of inquiry here. It's really exciting to know that all patterns, however they manifest, are capable of being loved and investigated that can culminate in release and deeper self discovery. ☺

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