If there is an addiction in your life, there is a bodily contraction.
And that goes for anxiety, depression, spiritual seeking and any number of other common human conditions and behaviors. These things, when you boil it all down, come from bodily contraction.
Bodily contraction is more than just the sense that “I am this body,” it’s a physically-felt contraction or set of contractions in different parts of the body. Although we don’t use the term “chakras” in the Living Inquiries, thousands of years of talk of Chakras in spiritual literature is not just a bunch of hot air. There are seemingly solid contractions in different parts of the body and these contribute to all sorts of conscious or unconscious stories related to the belief in a separate self. This includes issues of safety and security, sexuality, creativity, pleasure, control, power, love, relationships, expression, and a host of other things. As we are growing up, we find ways to protect ourselves from feeling certain emotions or experiencing certain threats in our environment. As the mind experiences this self-protection, the body follows suit. This stuff is remembered and solidified in the body itself, forming contractions. We find ways to distract ourselves from being fully conscious of these contractions including through addictions, self-improvement, spiritual seeking, work, being overly analytical or “staying in our heads,” and all sorts of other ways. Becoming aware of these contractions and no longer distracting ourselves is a first step to freeing this stuck energy.
Your body remembers pain, even if you don’t.
Unraveling these contractions is actually quite easy with the Living Inquiries. Easy doesn’t mean painless. We can’t promise you that you won’t feel swells of emotion or that a contraction will undo itself in one session, but the Inquiries cut right to the chase. They put aside all fancy spiritual talk and do the kind of inner looking, or spiritual surgery if you will, that actually moves energy and releases stories.
We use the Unfindable Inquiry to look through all the words, pictures, emotions and sensations that keep a particular contraction in place. For example, if there are issues around power or control or feeling powerless or weak, quite often it’s the stomach area that feels contracted. Sifting through each particular set of words and each mental picture that is unconsciously hidden in that part of the body releases that energy. With something like creativity or expression, where one feels stifled or unable to express or create freely, quite often that is contracted energy in the throat or pelvic area. Attachment, possessiveness, and neediness in relationships can be attributed to a contraction in the chest or heart area. That’s just the short list. Just about everything can be reduced down to one or more particular bodily contractions that are largely responsible for a particular kind of suffering.
Where a contraction is and what story is attached to it is an individual thing. In the sessions we start by having you sit with that energy until the identity comes to mind. Once it comes to mind, we look for that person, that particular identity that seems embedded in the contraction. In not finding it, the pictures and words fall away so that they energy of that area can release and flow more freely throughout the body. In addition to the Unfindable Inquiry, the facilitators use both the Anxiety and Compulsion Inquiries to clear away all the thoughts that are, unintentionally, keeping the contraction in place. For example, addictive-compulsive thoughts about a particular substance or activity keep the contraction in place (and keep us distracted). Anxiety-ridden belief systems do the same. Weaving all three of these inquiries together (Unfindable, Compulsion and Anxiety) leaves you nowhere to go, with no distractions, resting with what is so that energy can finally shift on its own (without personal will involved). This weaving challenges all the belief systems that keep contraction in place. In fact, you can even look for “contraction” and “chakra” and not find it. That alone can release energy, especially if you are mentally fixated on these spiritual “things.” The inquiries don’t need fixation to work. They undo fixations.
I have firsthand experience using the inquiries to release contractions in my pelvic and throat area related to the belief “I can’t express my feelings.” I had found ways to distract myself from these contractions (mainly through addictions). But, through the years, my body remembered this story and solidified itself in these areas. Releasing this energy in these parts of my body was incredibly freeing. Vital energy began to move throughout my body more fluidly, leaving the body feeling completely open in every area. Things and people felt more transparent. It was then easier to express myself and be who I am naturally in each moment, especially in relationships. Even walking felt lighter and more easeful as that pelvic energy relaxed.
Be careful of the teachings that merely say that your real identity is the formlessness or awareness in which contraction is happening. Fair enough, but the body doesn’t always get that. In that stuck energy, there is identification happening, old stories that keep the contraction feeling solid. You’ll see and feel the identification in times of suffering, conflict, anxiety, addiction, illness, chronic pain, relationship breakup, neediness, feeling stifled in your creativity, needing to be right and situations involving power or control issues. You’ll feel that tense pressure or hit in a certain part of the body. And that’s telling you that you aren’t just awareness. On some level, you believe that contraction is you.
If you haven’t looked into using these inquiries on contractions, do yourself a favor. People spend a lot of time trying to change behaviors, change the way they think, seek some future realization and a host of other paths and endeavors that do nothing but keep the contractions there or make only small strides in releasing them. Be careful not to confuse my invitation to look at bodily contraction as a form of seeking into the future. Seeking is a movement of escape. It’s another way we distract ourselves from what is happening in our bodies. The inquiries are about looking directly into the present experience of body and seeing that the contraction is not who we are so that it can release.
Instead of doing things that only solidify the contraction (e.g., seeking), be more radical. Look with us.