According to Ayurveda, we carry emotions, emotional trauma, and even memories from our ancestors in a part of the brain called tarpaka (which means to record or to remember). While there are many tools in Ayurveda to free us from old unwanted emotions, self-inquiry is a requirement for all Ayurvedic Psychology practices.
The following Self-Inquiry Guide can be used while cleansing, on retreat, or as a daily practice after meditation or yoga. It was originally posted in our Kaya Kalpa Cleanse eBook.
13 Steps of Self-Inquiry
1. What percentage of time do you spend with attention on inner space (introspective or meditative silence)? How about outer space (the relative world we live in)?
2. Considering you have a 16-hour day and eight hours of sleep, see if you can spend 1.6 hours (10% of your day) focused on inner space—i.e. meditation, breathing, being in nature, yoga nidra, or prayer.
- One-Minute Meditation
- Learn Sun Salutation
- Read about Health Benefits of Nature
- Brahmari: Humming Breath
- Kapalabhati: Skull Illuminating Breath
- Transformational Awareness Technique
3. During your inner space time, try to journal any insights, intentions, realizations, or behavioral changes you wish to incorporate into daily life. In other words, as you practice yoga, breathe, meditate, pray, or enjoy nature, you will become more self-aware. The next step is to put this awareness into action. This is the true meaning of karma.
See also What is Karma? Finding the Truth
4. Each day, try to spend one hour in nature with awareness. Take in its beauty and silence with each of your senses and feel them with your heart. This can be done with eyes open or closed. It is a form of pratyahara, or turning the senses within.
- Feel the leaves + trees
- Admire the technicolor of a forest
- Smell the pines, wild flowers, leaves + wind
- Taste the air as you breathe
- Listen to birds, rivers + sounds of silence in nature: not so silent
5. Ask yourself: What distractions keep my attention going outward? Examples: food, money, shopping, drama, friends, internet?
6. Consider giving up one of these distractions. Create a plan to replace that time with service to those in need. It could be volunteering or writing a love and appreciation letter to someone. The goal is to replace time you spend in search of satisfaction from the outside world with actions of love generated from your inside world. Ask yourself which are more fulfilling.
7. Once you have accomplished replacing one distracting activity, try replacing another with a similar plan. Remember: the actions you take from love must not require a reward, return on investment, or response. These actions are training our minds to give for no reason—just for goodness’ sake.
See also The Science of Sattwa (and Giving)
8. How much energy do you spend wishing people would be different, nicer, or more respectful? How much energy would you save if you just let them be how they are? What would you lose if you stopped judging them?
9. Do you find yourself holding back love from your spouse, partner, mom, dad, or loved one? If so, ask yourself why you’re not willing to love them fully. Do you feel they have to change before you can feel safe to love them fully? If they don’t change, does that mean you will never experience or express the love you have for them fully?
10. Consider looking through the window of compassion and realizing that what you don’t like could be a reflection of their emotional armor, created because they were hurt, unloved, or broken in some way.
11. Consider making a list of things you appreciate about someone in your life who irks you. Yes, there are many things you do not appreciate, but what about the things you do appreciate? Remember: look through the window of understanding, rather than judgment.
12. Take action on love: simple acts of kindness based on what you appreciate, looking through the window of love, compassion, gratitude, and understanding. It could be a text saying: “Hey, just thinking about you! Hoping you have a great day!” Leave them a note, send an email, but don’t measure love: it is not a commodity to be traded—just give it!
13. Gratitude. Make a list of all the things and people you are grateful for. Choose one or two people to express that gratitude to. Express your gratitude daily (text, phone, email is ok). Best done in person!
Learn more self-inquiry tools in the Vedic Healing category of LifeSpa.com.