Something else I find helpful, and have used with groups:
List some of your compulsions or addictions. (Top 3, 5, 10.)
For each one, ask what do I hope to get out of it?
Then repeat that question. Go deeper. Continue until there is nothing more there. Don’t stop until you genuinely cannot find anything more.
A few examples for me:
Intimate relationships —> Support, love, sex, companionship. —> Feeling loved. Accepted. OK as I am. Content. Safe. Alive. —> Love. Acceptance. Safety. Contentment. Aliveness.
Internet —> Entertained. Feeling I understand and have an overview. —> Avoid discomfort. Avoid having to feel the discomfort that’s here. —> Contentment. Safety. Love. Acceptance. Adventure.
Understanding —> Safety. Being OK.
Awakening —-> Safety. Being acceptable. Love. Ease. Comfort. Contentment. —> Love. Acceptance. Comfort. Being home.
Money —> Safety. Security. Freedom. Fun. Superiority. —> Safety. Enjoyment. Contentment. Being OK. —> Safety. Contentment. Aliveness. Being OK.
Superiority —> Being OK. Acceptable. Loved. Safe.
Shopping —> Excitement. Joy. Satisfaction. —> Aliveness. Safety. Contentment. Freedom.
Some of these examples are less linear or clean than I hoped for….! That’s OK. It’s partly because I have done this inquiry a few times before, so my mind naturally jumps ahead to the more essential answers.
What does this inquiry do?
It helps me see that behind any craving or addiction is innocence. It’s an innocent and very understandable human need and wish, independent of what external form it has taken in my life.
It helps me see that what I really wish for is something very simple and essential: Love. Acceptance. Feeling OK. Safety. Contentment. Adventure. Aliveness.
It helps me see that there are other ways to find this. I don’t need to be wedded to a particular approach or strategy. There are other ways to find this, some of which I may even be familiar with. (E.g. Finding it in smaller and more immediate ways. And also meditation, yoga, heart-centered practices, nature, animals, being of service etc.)
Note: This inquiry is from Adyashanti.