by Esther Veltheim
It is never too late to have a happy childhood.
– Tom Robbins
A simple explanation of self-inquiry is that it is the process of questioning all assumptions.
This is the work of BreakThrough, to dispel the habit of assuming.
When left to its own devices, our intellect becomes a compulsive hoarder. It accumulates and stockpiles learned information and stories, squirreling them away as if readying itself for a famine. The greater our hoard of learned information and stories becomes, the more adept our intellect becomes at steamrolling our intuition and guarding against the heart.
This dynamic is better understood once we understand that we actually have 3 brains; one in the head, one in the heart, and one in the gut. What we call our intellect is reflected in the functioning of these 3 brains. When left to its own devices and allowed to dominate the 3 brain complex, it is our head brain that gives us the most trouble. It can be a compulsive hoarder of all kinds of information and a compulsive chaser after answers. When our headbrain dominates we hoard indiscrimately.
That we intuitively know about these brains is clear when we say such things as “I went with my gut!” signifying we gave priority to something other than our head brain. In other words, we didn’t jump on our usual train of logic. Instead, we listened to a deep inner sense, a gut feeling of what was necessary. We intuitively know about our heart brain when we talk of “listening to my heart not my head”, meaning we are turning to a very different source of guidance and logic.
Like any addictive behavior, the head brain’s compulsion to learn and cling escalates until pathology successfully masquerades as a necessity: hoarding information and answers becomes essential to living. That we call the age we live in “the information age” might be more telling than we realize.
Habitually satisfying our urge for a knowledge fix, a domineering head brain allows us to close down to the unknown.
Like any addiction, hoarding information and knee-jerk answering weaken the head brain. Its ability to discriminate and draw on its discretionary dimension suffer dramatically whenever we hang onto learned information and fail to question it. Increasingly we live in our heads and the gut and heart brain increasingly lose their dynamism. Conversely, when the Three Brain Complex is dynamic, the gut brain informs us and the heart brain anchors us.
When the head brain dominates, we look to external sources to inform us. And we look to external sources to anchor us. While we are in this dissociative state, ‘out there’ is mistaken for both our source of survival and also our greatest threat. Accumulating learned information to ensure that answers are always at the ready is how the over-compensating head brain keeps us feeling safe. The head brain’s primary conviction is that “learned information is my greatest strength!” Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what that hoarded information is as long as it keeps us armed with answers.
Note: There is absolutely nothing wrong with the head brain. It is just doing its job relative to what needs to be done in the moment.
To engage in self-inquiry when our head brain dominates is difficult at first. This is because self-inquiry is all about questioning, which is antithetical to our head brain’s domineering mode. This is, perhaps, why self-inquiry is the least followed method or path in terms of trying to get to the truth about ourselves.
The good news is that our gut brain is never totally decomissioned, no matter how domineering our head brain is. If we receive a clear enough explanation of the basic principles of self-inquiry and the potential benefits can ensue from it, there is every change that our head brain will get interested. And that is when our gut brain has the chance to kick in to action and a gut feeling about the work can start peek our curiosity.
Faced with the proposition of a system such as BreakThrough, which focuses primarily on questioning, the head brain might rebel. But, even if our head brain has been in charge until now, our heart brain has never been decommissioned. Whenever we listen to our gut brain, there is every chance for our heart brain to make itself felt more strongly, and vice versa. The Three Brain Complex is always a complex, even when one brain appears to dominate the other two brains will still be functioning. The only difference is that when the three brains are at odds with one another this conflict is strongly reflected in our experience of life.
Conversely, to engage in self-inquiry has the power to bring dynamism to the Three Brain Complex. For many the term self-inquiry is somewhat of a mystery. This is, possibly, because deconstructive thinking is not a very common practice. Deconstructive thinking is the antithesis of how we are taught to think in most schools, and in most interpretations of religion and pretty much most walks of life. But self-inquiry is the simplest and most direct way of clarifying the mind and bringing about a dynamic Three Brain Complex.
A simple explanation of self-inquiry is that it is the process of questioning all assumptions. A simple place to begin self-inquiry might be to ask “What do I know for sure?” This is a self-reflective question. It turns our focus inwards which immediately shifts the habit of looking for answers “out there”. And whenever this shift in orientation happens, the mind temporarily calms. Over time, the practice of self-inquiry or self-reflection disrupts apathetic head brain habits. This is because self-reflection naturally engages the Three Brain Complex in a far more dynamic way.
BreakThrough is specifically designed to support and deepen self-inquiry. Consequently, BreakThrough techniques work powerfully to enhance the healthy functioning of the Three Brain Complex.