Origin and Meaning:
Self enquiry in Sanskrit means “atma vichara”. It means to investigate ones true nature and find answers to questions like, “who am i ?”. This leads to more intimate knowledge of our higher self and the state of our true being. This method was popularized the 20th-century Indian sage Ramana Maharishi (1879-1950). The modern non-duality movement (neo-advaita) is greatly inspired by this form. Many contemporary teaches employ this technique, including Mooji, Adyashanti and Eckhart Tolle.
How To Do It:
The practice itself is very simple and subtle, explaining it however may sound very abstract. Your ego (the “I”) is the centre of YOUR universe. This “I” encompasses all your thoughts, emotions, memories and perceptions. We as humans have very little understanding of this “I”. In life we often confuse the “I” with our body, mind, roles and labels. This meditation helps to strip away layers to find the higher truth of self. The object of focus is the mental thought, “Who am I?”. You must reject all verbal answers that come from asking this question and you must simply use this question as a means of focusing attention purely on the “I” or “I am”. Through practice you can find the real “I”. Your real self is pure consciousness, beyond all limitations.
Whenever thoughts/feelings arise, you ask yourself, “To whom does this arise?” or “Who is aware of _____ (anger, fear, pain, or whatever)?” The answer will be “It’s me!”. From then you ask “Who am I?”, to bring the attention back to the subjective feeling of self, of presence. It is pure existence, objectless and choice-less awareness.
Another way of explaining this practice is to just focus the mind on your feeling of being, the non-verbal “I am” that shines inside of you. Keep it pure, without association with anything you perceive.
On all other types of meditation, the “I” (yourself) is focusing on some object, internal or external, physical or mental. In self-enquiry, the “I” is focusing on itself, the subject. It is the attention turned towards its source.
There is no special position to practice, although the general suggestions about posture and environment are helpful for beginners.
Is It For me? :
This meditation is very powerful in bringing inner peace and understanding about oneself. If you have no previous experiences with meditation it may be hard to follow through with. It is recommended that you do a few guided meditations for the self-enquiry meditation.