A student has asked about self-inquiry and whether he needs continually to remind himself to question “Who am I” and remember the “I am”. His sense is that only in deep stillness is he present as the “I am”.
One way of thinking of this awareness of “I am”, often emphasized in non-dual literature and approached in various ways by teachers, is that no matter what you are doing or thinking awareness is present. It is awareness noting your thoughts, emotions, stillness, sensations. The way I think of self-inquiry is to just become curious about awareness itself, what is this awareness? Where is it coming from in me?
Sometimes you are distracted by thoughts and when you notice this , you can step back out of your busy thoughts and inquire what noticed these thoughts and distraction? How I am aware of what is happening here?
Be very curious! But do not ask the mind for an answer. It is like tuning into a felt sense, and there is no mental answer — it is more like feeling into the unknown. I think of it as turning awareness into itself and sinking into that. Of course you can’t do this in the middle of a conversation, but you can take a breath and drop awareness into the gut and ask if what you are saying is true or authentic. Eventually when there is enough clearing so that awakening is more consciously present you will discover how there is a felt intuitive sense in your gut .
This intuitive knowing can guide our actions more authentically than our thoughts, and we can lean into this to establish what is true in the moment. It is like a compass connected to Source. If we go against it we usually feel uncomfortable.
However, we can also go for years after awakening with occasionally getting entangled in an old pattern or emotion and this is not a problem, as long as we do not give up facing it. As Adya says when these old parts of us arise, they are just old patterns that have not awakened yet. They arise for us to face them. We can then either write about them, or sit down and meet them fully and inquire about them seeking to know their source and release them or question if they are true(Byron Katie’s style) . It is best not to be concerned about their arriving — we will always be in a human form and there can always be some old piece of work to do. When there is, consciousness will let us know by bringing up division, confusion or emotion that doesn’t pass quickly. (We can always feel a wave of emotion but usually after a somewhat stable awakening it passes through quickly because there is no one here to hang on to it.) If it is sticky then we know it is an edge of our old identifications. We need to accept it and meet it and see what it has to show us.
Eventually there is no need to feel into the I am — it is always there without words, like a relaxation into life.The one who is working to stay there falls away. Awareness can be engaged or it can be resting in spaciousness or stillness and it is all the same because no one objects or tries to change either experience.
There is a meditation on http://www.kundaliniguide.com that blends balancing energy with tuning into awareness. You might want to try it and see how it feels.