As I helpfully pointed out last week, the title of this blog is “Focus Pocus: The Magic of Inquiry and Intent.” I’d love to tell you that to come up with the name, I researched and did focus groups and hired a marketing consultant. Actually, it came to me like a hiccup as I drove over the Spudnuts Bridge on the way to teach class.
Not a terribly sophisticated process, I grant you, but it’s a good name and I believe in it.
Last week, I wrote about Intent, and some of you shared your intentions (thank you for that!). Intent is the fuel for what we do. Intent is WHY we do what we do.
So what about Inquiry?
Inquiry means (among other things) a seeking or request for truth, information or knowledge. Inquiry presumes some amount of curiosity. Curiosity provides some amount of focused attention. Focused attention trains the mind to resist distraction. An undistracted mind is calm and creative. So inquiry is really about directing the energy of the mind in a calm and creative way. Worth pursuing, I must say (to quote Ed Grimley)!
Inquiry in Nia
In Nia, our inquiry is the mind’s exploration and investigation of the body’s experience. When an instructor (invoking Principle 13) says, “Everybody sense your feet,” it is an invitation to inquire into your experience of your feet. When we do a repeated movement, the invitation is to inquire into your body’s experience of that movement – and how you can tweak it to sustain and increase pleasure. When emotions come up, these too are invitations to inquire and investigate the sensations and experience (no need to analyze!).
Inquiry in Life
The practice of inquiry isn’t limited to Nia class, though. Approaching all experiences in the spirit of inquiry can offer a bit of space between ourselves and our sensations, thoughts and emotions. That space, in turn, gives us time to respond with curiosity and creativity. To simply to be present with what is happening. The truth is, that although I resist this truth, the truth really is that everything changes and mostly we don’t have to do anything but simply observe.
The Wheel of Awareness
Dan Siegel, psychiatrist, researcher, author and award-winning educator, created a practice of inquiry called The Wheel of Awareness. Dr. Siegel’s Wheel practice begins with the image of sitting at the bottom of the ocean where all is calm, quiet and peaceful. At the surface of the ocean, storms may be raging or waves crashing, but we are observing those movements from the stillness of the ocean depth. The practice is then to turn attention, shift the dial of awareness, to various experiences: the breath, physical sensation, thoughts and emotions, connections with others and even awareness itself. This curious inquiry is one that allows investigation without needing to change or fix any experience that is occurring. The wheel gives us the opportunity to “change the channel” rather than getting stuck on one experience or another. Dr. Siegel’s Wheel demonstrates we do have the ability to observe but not get tangled in what is happening. Rather than bobbing like a cork on a turbulent sea, we can sit a bit apart and watch what is happening on the surface. At the same time, The Wheel of Awareness practice can offer insights and clarity into an otherwise muddled or stormy situation.
In class and in life this week, inquire into your experience and see what you observe. Resist the temptation to change, fix, analyze or understand. Simply notice and respond with calm, curious interest. See how inquiry can shift either intense or uncomfortable situations as well as repetitive, familiar or even boring ones. As always, I love LOVE to hear about how you are using this and what you notice as you practice.
Focus Pocus, y’all!