It seems that the Byron Katie inquiry process dissolves habitual patterns that work on all levels – physical, energetic, emotional, cognitive.
Believing in any thought gives a contraction on all these levels, so looking into it enough for awareness to no longer be able to believe the thought dissolves these patterns of contractions.
Although there are still many areas that can benefit from inquiry for me, I notice daily situations where I used to contract (for instance tense up, shallow breathing, judgment, righteousness, blame, circular thought patterns) and where there is now space, clarity, responsiveness. It is effortless, and I have noticed a part of me trying to recreate the old patterns, but there is nothing there – no hook.
It is striking to see to what extent I and others believe in thoughts, its consequences (all undesirable), how unnecessary it is, and how blind we all are to this. Although the inquiry process is a relatively quick way to awaken to this realization.
The inquiry process goes to the root of the matter – believing in thoughts – rather than reorganizing the believes themselves. And the process allows us to see and experience for ourselves who and what we are when we don’t believe in thoughts. It allows awareness to awaken to itself as distinct from its content, with its inherent and everpresent qualities of spaciousness, clarity, responsiveness.
Western approaches, including psychology, tend to focus on reorganizing beliefs. They focus on the specific beliefs, rather than the process of believing in thoughts itself. Most likely, this is because they do not acknowledge – or are not aware – of what/how awareness functions when it is not identified with its content. The realization of awareness as inherently spacious, clear, responsive, is always infinitely close – but a shift needs to happen.
It is also interesting to note that the inquiry process gives an understanding on a deeper level. After doing it for a little while, I know recognize the general process – and it partly seems to apply itself in real life situations, and I can partly consciously initiate and engage in it.
I recognize the contractions when I believe a thought, I can recognize the thought behind it, I know it is not true, I recognize the effects of believing it (suffering), I recognize who/what I am without believing it (space, clarity, responsiveness), and I turn the statement around. This happens instantaneous and wordlessly, and takes care of much in the moment. And it also benefits from a further inquiry on paper to release it more fully, at least for now.
The main effects of believing in thoughts seem to be contraction and suffering. Thoughts always represent a limited and particular view, and existence is far beyond and more inclusive than any particular view. We set ourselves up for suffering when we believe in thoughts, because the world will always give us situations that do not correspond with the limited view of the thought.
A belief has an inherent expectation of how the world will work, the world behaves differently, and we suffer.
When we believe in limited views, when we act as if they are true, it creates a contraction – which in turn has many aspects and a cascade of effects. There is a sense of precariousness, since the world at any moment can give us something that does not correspond with the belief. There is a rigidity – an attachment to particular pattenrs of emotions/thoughts/behaviors/outcomes. There is a sense of being trapped and confined, in a limited view, in situations that do not correspond to the belief. There is a sense of being separate – from ourselves, desired outcomes, others, existence.
When awareness really sees through this, through the inquiry process, beliefs drop. Awareness reveals itself as it is distinct from its content – with its inherent and always present spaciousness, clarity, responsiveness, compassion, and quiet current of joyfulness.
The inquiry process has a parallel with Buddhist basic meditation practice. The space and clarity we find when awareness drops beliefs, corresponds with shamata – calm abiding. The insights we gain in how the process of believing in thoughts create suffering, is vipassana – insight meditation.