A friend and colleague of mine were having a discussion recently about healing, transformation, and creating an inspired life. I said I thought it was important to ask yourself the “right questions.” She said, “How do you know what the right questions are?” I am so grateful for the conversation we had because it made me search deeper within myself and my experiences in order to articulate my current view on this subject. So, here it is:
The mind is a machine. Its job is to calculate, think, strategize, plan, create order, and basically, be busy doing what it does. The mind is our tool. It is not who we are. Nothing going on up there is personal, and most of it is not even based in reality, depending on how much our emotions or delusions are involved. We give the mind material, and it goes about creating something out of that material. It is a fascinating device, and has value. But we can get into trouble when the mind stops being a tool that we use, and it starts using us!
So, since the mind’s job is to be busy, let’s give it something to do. A focus that will keep it functioning in a productive realm, if you will. Let’s say you want closer relationships, or more intimacy. Rather than letting your mind go nutty and getting sidetracked into the ways in which you aren’t experiencing what you want, you change the focus of your mind by asking a question—the “right question.” This could be, “How am I demonstrating my love for others?” Or, “How do I feel cared for by others today?” Or even more basic, “What does it mean to be in relationship?” The mind then begins looking for evidence to answer the question. Otherwise, we are subconsciously looking for evidence to prove our less healthy, old core beliefs— like, “No one really cares,” or, “I am alone,” for example.
In regards to knowing what the right questions are, I think any question that invites exploration and possibility is a good place to start. In addition, I think it is more important (and effective) to live the question, rather than search for a solid and final answer. By living the question as if it were a mantra of sorts, it keeps the mind and spirit focused. For example, “What are my gifts?” or “Why am I here?”—can be held gently as inquiries which put you in a state of infinite possibility.
My zen teacher, Cheri Huber says something to the effect of this: As soon as you think you’ve found the final answer to anything, your dead. You’ve closed yourself off to all other possibilities and are no longer living in a realm of curiosity and aliveness. Sure, it can feel safer to stick by your final answer, but what could it be costing you?
By living the question, you live in a state of awareness, creativity, and adventure. I invite you to explore this idea on your own, and see what arises for you.
The Right Questions, 10 Essential Questions to Guide You to an Extraordinary Life by Debbie Ford
The Key: And the Name of the Key is Willingness, by Cheri Huber