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Hi Everyone,

In recent years, I’ve become acquainted with a mindfulness practice called “Self-Enquiry,” which originates from the Sufi tradition.  Self-enquiry helps us learn about ourselves and the way we react to people and situations in our lives.  Unlike meditation, self-enquiry is practiced for no more than 5 minutes per day using a journal.  The essence of this practice is asking yourself, “Is there something for me to learn here?”  The practice begins by picking a situation around which you feel some emotional energy. You then ask yourself questions that help you get closer to your emotional edge.  The “edge” is the place where there is something to learn.  As you get closer to your edge, you’ll experience emotional discomfort.  If a question isn’t helpful, you’ll feel yourself moving further away from your edge (that is, you’ll feel better or more emotionally regulated).  You should also be a little suspicious of “quick answers” when doing this practice.  Allow yourself to sit with the uncertainty of what it all means for a little while (a few days) before deciding to trust the answers/insights that come out of this practice.

A short example may help: “I recently learned that a grant that I worked really hard on and was very proud of was not funded.  What if I’m a bad scientist?  Immediately I am right at my edge and feel tears in my eyes.  What is it about being a bad scientist?  It’s something about the word bad…am I bad?  No, this is getting me further away from my edge.  Back to the beginning – what if I’m a bad scientist?  Who am I if I’m not a good scientist?  I’m at my edge again.  Who am I if I’m not a good scientist?  I will start with this question tomorrow.”

As you can see from my example, there is something for me to learn (yet to be discovered!) about how success affects my sense of identity.  Self-enquiry gives us something truly productive to do when we find ourselves feeling riled up.  As a bonus, it is also a practice in sitting with uncomfortable emotions rather than avoiding them, and who doesn’t need to work on that?  For more information on how to start a self-enquiry practice, visit this blog post written by Dr. Jason Luoma:


Dr. Carla