The Art of Inquiry
(a way of working that informs the workshops....)
What is Inquiry?
Many contemporary spiritual traditions * have developed practices of Inquiry - ways to explore, express and clarify our experience in enriching ways. Inquiry invites us to draw on the integrity and directness of presence we associate with meditation, yet within relationship, through language, and with others. This forges a valuable bridge between our private experience of presence and our everyday lives and relationships. We learn to be more immediate and genuine in how we speak, and this is in itself both integrating and enlivening.
How do we work with speaking and listening?
In my teaching and workshops, alongside whatever themes we are exploring, I introduce some of the skills of relational inquiry (chiefly through the use of repeating questions), as these practices support participants uncover and express fresh insights. Working in a contained, confidential way, each person is free to follow their own rhythm of expression.
In the silent, attentive presence of each other, we experience and offer each other space that enhances and develops freedom and self-acceptance. In speaking, we become more precise about our experiences and truths; in listening, we attune to the uniqueness of another person, and allow ourselves to be touched.
What is the value of relational inquiry practices?
Relational Inquiry offers us an opportunity to speak directly and deeply about things that matter. We speak from the coalface of our own experience, and hear others there also. This is a gift and a privilege. We step away from our habitual social communication (where pleasing, impressing or conveying ourselves to others can dominate what we say) and try to be more immediately true to our actual experience and thoughts. In learning how to explore in this way, many qualities develop as a side effect: clarity, presence, spaciousness, and an ability to host ourselves and others with more spontaneity, generosity and grace.
'We may fail to connect either with ourselves or with others, and what we are feeling slides away. We may pretend such slippage is unimportant or a normal part of living, and so nullify it or play it down. But somewhere we are left with frustration and perhaps loss, as feelings that carry our most intimate facts and selves remain unborn or undeveloped.'
Michael Eigen: Emotional Storm
* These include The Diamond Approach with AH Almaas, Eugene Gendlin's Focusing, Gregory Kramer's Insight Dialogues and Thomas Hubl's Transparent Communication - each, with their own emphasis and style, have developed practices of this kind to support development and integration of relation with self and others.