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Mindful : August 2014
Investigating means calling on our natural curiosity—the desire to know truth—and directing a more focused at tention to our present experience. Simply pausing to ask, what is happening inside me?, ca n initiate recogni- tion, but investigation adds a more active a nd pointed kind of inquiry. You might ask yourself: What most wa nts attention? How am I expe- riencing this in my body? Or What am I believing? What does this feeling want from me? You might notice hol- lowness or shakiness, then discover a sense of unworthi- ness and shame masked by those feelings. Unless you bring them into awareness, your unconscious beliefs and emotions will control your experience a nd perpetuate your identification with a limited, deficient self. Poet Dorothy Hunt says that we need a “...heartspace where everything that is, is welcome.” Without such an at titude of unconditiona l care, there isn’t enough safety and openness for real investiga- tion to take place. About ten years ago I entered a period of chronic illness. During one particularly challenging period of pain and fatigue, I became discouraged and unhappy. In my view I was terrible to be a round—impa- tient, self-absorbed, irritable, gloomy. I began working w ith RAIN to recognize these feelings and judgments and to consciously allow the unpleasantness in my body and emotions to just be there. As I began to investigate, I heard a n embittered voice: “I hate living like this.” And then a moment later, “I hate myself!” The full toxicity of self-aversion filled me. Not only was I strug- gling with illness, I was at war with the self-centered, irritable person I believed I had become. Unknowingly, I had turned on myself and was held captive by the trance of unworthiness. But in that moment of recognizing a nd allowing the suffering of self-hatred, my heart bega n to soften with compassion. Here’s a story that helps to describe the process I went through. Imagine while walking in the woods you see a small dog sitting by a tree. You bend down to pet it and it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. Initially you might be frightened and angry. But then you notice one of its legs is caught in a trap, buried Investigating with Kindness I Some of us are at war with ourselves for decades, never realizing how our self-judgment and self-aversion keep us from finding genuine intimacy with others or enjoying our lives. 74 mindful August 2014 in practice insight 74 mindful August 2014