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How Self-Inquiry Can Enhance Your BALM Practice

BALM | March 13, 2016

A guest blog by BALM® Coach, Addictions Counselor, and 7 Steps to BALM® Instructor Michael DeForbes

What is Self-Inquiry?

Self Inquiry is a powerful self-coaching technique designed to help a person see past their thoughts and into the depth of their being. It is one means, though not the only one, of deepening your ability to Be A Loving Mirror.

Initially, a coach or teacher asks their coachee or student simple open-ended questions that, once learned, can be used on oneself when feeling anxious, flooded, irritated, frustrated, victimized, angry or upset about something.

When used effectively, self-inquiry does two powerful things simultaneously:

  1. It exposes the true source of suffering, which is believing whatever your mind tells you about the situation
  2. It points toward an inner peace which is available immediately, in this moment.


How Can Self-Inquiry Be Helpful With The BALM®?

Simply put, one of the main “side-effects” of Self-Inquiry is the feeling of ongoing peace and stability that never waivers.

And Step One of The 7 Steps to BALM® is: Be the Peace You Wish to See in the World or, in short, Get Calm.

An Example of a Self-Inquiry Question

In my job as an addictions counselor, I see many clients with severe hardship: health problems, loss of loved ones, ending of relationships, financial ruin, and incarceration. Needless to say, many of them are in a state of extreme suffering. No matter what their situation, I tell all of them: your stress does not come from the situation itself. If never does. Your stress and suffering come from believing what your mind tells you about the situation:

  • “I’m going to die.”
  • “I’m going to jail and lose everything I hold dear.”
  • “I’m worthless and unlovable.”
  • “I’m not enough.”
  • “I’m going to be lonely for the rest of my life.”


Spiritual Teacher Bob Adamson asks his students one question to show them where all of their suffering and problems come from:

What is the problem with your life, here and now when you’re not paying attention to your thinking?

This does not mean you say to yourself: “The problem is my loved one is using drugs!” Yes, your loved one is using drugs. But saying or thinking that their use is the cause of your suffering is simply thinking. Remember, words are thoughts, whether aloud, or in your head.

So ask this question again, and let it sink into your consciousness. Don’t just say the answer, let the answer reveal itself:

What is the problem with your life, here and now when you’re not paying attention to your thinking?

Let your mind fade to the background, bring consciousness to the present moment and you’ll see: there is no problem. There never was a problem.

And in the absence of problems, there is always peace. The real problem is paying too much attention to your mind and its screaming.

Self inquiry is one of the methods we teach to help family members grow in their ability to get calm. BALM® Community members who have not yet taken the 7 Steps to BALM® Course, will experience self-inquiry during this course. If you would like to become a member of the BALM Community please contact info@familyrecoveryresources.com.