There are at least as many ways to self inquire as there are human beings on Earth.
On a spring morning in 1991, I suffered a head trauma. It appeared simple enough; young boy knocked unconscious in the playground, checked over at hospital, a few days off school then back on his feet. No problem, at least on the surface... Were they to be diagnosed by a doctor today, the underlying symptoms of the injury could be summarised as 'post concussion syndrome'. The sudden onset of things like mental fog, lack of concentration, withdrawal and loss of vitality, but perhaps most importantly the inability to share, meant that I would go into a developmental stasis. Although I went to school physically, after the injury I was never anything like fully present.
It was not until much later, after several failed attempts to build my life and relationships, that I could see my story honestly enough and begin to accept it. I had taken the path of least social resistance. The Ross I became had been shaped, by the cues and approvals of others. I had suppressed my feelings and forgotten how to listen to them.
There are fragmented memories from before the head injury. At one time I'd had a wild imagination, a knack for picking things up quickly, an excellent memory, good energy and confidence in my own ideas. Where had these abilities gone? Was it possible to retrieve them? Was I just imagining it all?
I began to really observe my creative process in my late teens by writing music. Along with the explosion of the internet in the late nineties and a part time job at a library. I began to explore the vast quantities of information that had suddenly become available to me.
Fifteen years of research followed. Initially I latched onto the eastern philosophies of Zen and Taoism, along with energy practices such as Qigong. I would go on to train in various disciplines and even take part in several experimental projects. It was as though I needed to test myself from every possible angle to get the clearest possible picture of who I actually was. However it seemed that in the eyes of my friends, family and ex girlfriends, I was becoming more withdrawn and less and less normal.
The original reasons for my research had been to reclaim my former levels of energy and presence. The research increasingly gave me the feeling that the central narrative of my life was vastly over simplified. As though I had overlooked a certain attention to detail that I needed to dust off and rediscover.
Perhaps the most valuable (and difficult) lesson was that while it did begin to seem possible for me to reclaim and cultivate energy and presence, what became increasingly important was not which approaches I used but the authenticity of the self inquiry. In other words, clarity of my actual situation only began to reveal itself as a result of me finding ways to observe and accept it.