Introspection (or inquiry) is, from my experience, another essential element of a practice that leads to increasing freedom and happiness in daily life. It unmasks the irrational and destructive thoughts and beliefs of the ego self. Increasing self-awareness brings an ability to change, by a commitment to letting go of harmful beliefs, thinking and behaviours.
A definition of introspection is helpful for this topic. The following definition comes from an Oxford dictionary: “Introspection: the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.”
In essence, introspection is a form of witness consciousness that allows the separation of identity from one's thoughts, beliefs and feelings. This separation is absolutely critical for living with more freedom and happiness.
Unfortunately, typical education curriculum doesn’t include introspection processes, for example, the Socratic process. My engineering education included the scientific method. This method is somewhat similar to introspection in form, but it is oriented to the outer world. Introspection is of the inner world.
Both cultural conditioning and education place emphasis on knowing and concluding. On the other hand, introspection seeks understanding by an openness and comfort with the ‘I don’t know mind’. All significant progress comes from this perspective, instead of being wedded to the established practices and beliefs.
At it deepest level, introspection is asking, ‘Who am I?’ This is beyond the labels we so easily fall into: male/female, ethnic group, country, religion, age, skin color, belief system, etc. The process can be very disconcerting. Introspection is most effectively done using a meditative approach so that the conditioned mind doesn't dominate.
I have tried several introspective processes on my journey. The two that I value the highest, because they are so broadly objective and not tied to rigid belief systems, are:
· The Work by Byron Katie
· Adlerian Psychology
I will provide some details on each of these in my next blog so that you can see if either, or both, speak to you. If not, find another form of introspection that does work for you. Introspection is a key element of the journey to happiness.