It can be helpful to conceive of psychological and meditative aspects of a full-spectrum inquiry. While theoretically we can speak about these as two separate processes, in practice they interpenetrate as our inquiry unfolds, with a full range of influences spanning intrapsychic, intersubjective, neurobiological, and cultural-historic dimensions.
Psychological inquiry is oriented in our capacity to reflect on our experience; to take a perspective on the narratives, feelings, and impulses that organize the ways we see ourselves, others, and the world. It is focused upon the content of our experience, the unfolding of that content and the specific meaning it has for us, and how we make sense of our lives, especially in the context of our interpersonal relationships.
Meditative inquiry is not as oriented in understanding experience, but in exploring and resting in its actual nature. It is a pure, phenomenological inquiry where we infuse warm, spacious, accepting awareness into the core of whatever arises in our immediate experience as it unfolds moment by moment in the here and now.
Here, we discover how much space there truly is around and inside a thought, an emotion, a mood. Our experience is made of space. We are made of space. Not an empty space, but a space that is overflowing with qualities of warmth, kindness, presence, and love.
Learning to access, regulate, and integrate our experience, both on our own and with the shared nervous system of another – making sense and exploring its unfolding meaning - is the heart of psychological inquiry, especially as it relates to experience which has previously been dissociated, disowned, or only partially metabolized. To provide sanctuary and safe passage for the lost and buried members of the inner family is a profound act of self-compassion.
Entering into non-interpretive, intimate attunement with the nature of our experience, as it unfolds in each here and now moment – without any agenda to understand, shift, transform, or heal it – is the essence of meditative inquiry. To begin to discover, in an embodied way, that what arises in consciousness - and consciousness itself - are weaved of the same substance, crafted of the same particles of warm, spacious luminosity. From this perspective, difficult, disturbing, and confusing experience does not arise to be healed, but to be held, to be permeated with and soaked in loving awareness.
The invitation of this inquiry is intimacy, without fusion. To allow ourselves to care deeply, to be willing to get messy, to stay with states of not-knowing, to enter into the body and the heart and take the risk to see what is there. To set aside our fantasies of invulnerability, mastery, and power and lay ourselves at the feet of the mystery. To see that life would never ask us to “master” it, but to become, dance, and play as its humble servant.
And to then rest in unstructured, open being. Explore, and then rest. And then explore, and then rest. Sort of like an ocean or a star.
My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available