The Kiloby Inquiries were co-developed by Scott Kiloby, Dan McLintock and other facilitators at the Kiloby Center for Recovery in California, the first primarily mindfulness based recovery center in the US.
The Kiloby Inquiries are a powerful set of tools and inquiry practices to help people be present to themselves in the moment. We attend to detail, noticing what is going on in our physical body, energy and sensations, feelings and emotion, and thoughts and concepts. We watch what comes and goes from the open space of awareness.
These mindfulness inquiries support seeing and healing core deficiency stories of unworthiness, a pervasive feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with us that keeps us hooked and disconnected from ourselves.
We experience thought as images and words. Images can be still pictures or video clips with or without sound. We hear words and some people can also see words in their mind like they are written out. Thoughts are generated by the brain in response to life and circumstances. We remind ourselves to get groceries. We balance our check book. We recognize people’s faces and we may or may not remember their name. Most thoughts are neutral and they come and go without us paying much attention.
Our primitive brain and survival system generate a lot of our thoughts. We scan our environment for danger, assessing threat based on our past. People who have experienced intense or ongoing fear, especially as children, are hypervigilant for danger. Based on our past experience, we don’t trust that we are going to be safe or that anyone will be here to help us.
We experience a somatic response or reaction in our body to positive and negative thoughts. We call this the Velcro Effect. Our inquiry tools are to help us release the stickiness of thought so that we can come back to awareness of the present moment and stay with what is arising in our body. Trauma is stored in our body as energy and sensation along with associated thoughts and memories. What happened may have been decades ago, but we suffer until we release the imprint of the event.
The Kiloby Inquiries help us see and release the unconscious thoughts and beliefs that cause contraction and pain. We reach a tipping point when we realize the energy in our body is not here to hurt us. We are interested in knowing ourselves and develop confidence and resilience. We realize deeply that there is nothing wrong with us. We see through old concepts and beliefs that cause suffering. As we heal, we come to life.
Look from Awareness:
We might think of awareness as being spacious and present moment. We are aware of words, pictures and body energy. As thoughts arise, we observe or witness them. Sometimes we get involved in a train of thought that also connects with energy or sensation in our body. We might tighten up or temporarily lose awareness of our body and breath.
The Kiloby Inquiries help us to return to awareness of what is arising in this moment. We don’t use these tools to get rid of or suppress thoughts. We use them to give us more space, so we can sit with the feelings in our body without thoughts Velcroed to them.
Identification happens in the mind, through associations and strategies. We practice looking from awareness without having to go back to the mind for answers. We shift out of identifying with thinking and into awareness. When we allow feelings like sadness without putting a story on it, the natural trajectory is to dissolve into presence.
We are trying to unlearn an error in our operating system. Growing up, we weren’t taught to feel things in our body, and this creates a learned helplessness around feeling things. Can you come down and feel something without thoughts on it? When we disarm the fear, it is easier to inquire.
Conditioning and Freedom. Imagine that outside of your body on the left side are all of your old unconscious beliefs, conditioning, core deficiency stories and the people and structures that support that. To the right side is no structure, just truth and freedom. The inquiry tools help us to break the Velcro within the structures that hold us back so we can move into freedom on the right side. What do you want? What is your truth? What is sticky? Let’s look at that.
Kiloby Inquiries Tools
You will become familiar with these in sessions. They are simple to learn and we encourage you to use them on your own between sessions. Please don’t worry about trying to use them all. Pick one or two that you like and begin there. Simple Inquiry is a good one to start.
Boomerang and Panorama Inquiry:
The look on your parent’s face when you brought home your report card, the edginess in your boss’s voice, a look of disdain or contempt from your partner.
What does that (person or experience) reflect back about you?
Core Deficiency Stories:
I’m unlovable. Unworthy. Not smart enough. Disgusting. There is something fundamentally wrong with me.
These beliefs arise from our experiences and cause suffering. We have an experience of not being loved and included, then we form beliefs. I was unloved because I am fundamentally unlovable, disgusting, or unworthy. These beliefs are false.
We notice thoughts or energy in our body. We are reacting to something.
Rest with awareness of your body and breath. What thoughts are here?
Is there emotion with the thoughts? If not, continue to rest and watch.
If yes, tap lightly on your forehead, focusing your attention only on the sound and sensation of the tapping for several seconds.
Bring your hand down and take a few breaths.
Feel the emotion or sensation in your body without thought. Notice space around it. Repeat.
NOW Notice Open Welcome:
Notice sensation —> feel it, notice the location, some people see a shape
Open —> become simultaneously aware of the open space that surrounds the sensation, while still noticing it within that space
Watch/Wait/Welcome —> without expectations, without trying to change it and without resistance or clinging. If resistance shows up as thought or tightness in your body, expand your awareness and allow that too.
Thank You Phrases:
Thank you for arising
I love you
You are welcome to stay as long as you like
Bring your attention to a sensation and say these words to the feeling. You don’t have to mean it. You might in fact hate the way you feel. Say it anyway and see what comes up.
On one level, this is a form of reverse inquiry and will generate feelings and thoughts to work with. On a deeper level, it is a welcoming that we are willing to know ourselves and an invitation to feel whatever is here.
The Dance: flow with the energy as it moves.
Sensation is allowed to do whatever it wants and your attention stays with it as it moves. Allow it to be the “lead” partner.
Imagine two hands coming up to hold the form or shape of the energy on both sides, then let the sensation move and let the hands move with it, dancing along with it in real time. If it changes size, move your hands with it.
Breathe with it:
Inhale – breathe into the sensation inside the hands. Exhale – notice space around the outside of hands.
If there are multiple images or thoughts, mentally put them into frame or up onto a white board. Focus on the space inside the frame and the space on the outside. Place your hands on the outside edges and just look without an intention to change it or get rid of it. You could try to make it stay just by looking at it. Do this until the structure dissolves and you can’t bring it back.
Use this with the collage or with a single image or words. Open your eyes and put the image in a frame on the wall across from you. Look at the image then look at the space all around the outside of the frame. Move your eyes through the empty space on the outside of the frame clockwise a few times then counter-clockwise a few times. Look back at the image.
Shifting our attention between a narrow and wide focus helps us to remain in the present in awareness. There are many ways to do this.
With your eyes open, put a picture or image of words on the opposite wall. Visualize it with a frame. Shift between looking at the image within the frame to noticing details outside of the frame, like the color of the wall, pictures or a window, then return your attention to what is inside of the frame.
Frame an image with your hands then look at the words and pictures between your hands. Notice the space to the right of your hands then the left then look at the image between your hands.
Bring your attention for several breaths to the softening of your belly as you exhale. Widen your focus to notice your whole body and the movement of your belly as you breathe. Return to focusing just on the softening of your belly as you exhale.
Hear and focus on the sound of the words then focus shift to a background sound, for example birds or traffic outside or snap your fingers. Come back to paying attention to the sound of your thoughts. Hear the words and listen for the silence or space the words are happening in.
Describe the energy or sensation like you would to a scientist:
Where is the energy located? Is it moving or still? Do you have an image of the energy? Is it hot or cold? Is it contained like a tight fist in the gut or does it gradually dissipate? Notice the energy and notice there is space around the energy. Shift your focus between the energy and the space around the outside of it.
Why is this here? It showed up and is connected with the inquiry question. What does it know? What does it want you to know? Don’t go to the mind for answers. Stay with the feeling in your body and listen. Ask – what else is here? Show me more about this. Is there anything else that needs to be seen?
The Reverse and Utility Inquiries are powerful ways to break through to freedom from beliefs and conditioning.
We know in our conscious mind that a belief isn’t true. We use the reverse inquiry to see our unconscious beliefs about it.
Ask a reverse question about a deficiency story. If a deficiency story is that “I’m not good enough,” say “I am good enough” and see where you feel a ‘NO’ to that in your body. This will bring up associations from past experiences that are the basis for the belief.
Feel into that, continuing to mine and release all of the words, pictures and body energies that appear. We’re not trying to create a new identity of “I am good enough.” We are using the reverse inquiry to see where we are unconsciously holding onto the deficiency belief.
Be specific and make an exaggerated claim.
If you hate being alone, say “I want to be alone all the time and feel everything”
If you are jealous of someone, say “I wholeheartedly wish them happiness and success”
If you are critical of something you have done say “I let myself off the hook 100%”
Look at the faces of people who judge you and say “I don’t mind telling them everything”
Use the inquiry tools above to observe from awareness, working with the thoughts and energy in your body that arise in response to the statements.
People have a utility or benefit behind their suffering. Are you receiving some unconscious benefit from remaining in pain? Maybe this is a way you get to be taken care of or receive love, or if you healed, it would let the person who abused you off the hook. These don’t make sense necessarily in our thinking brain. That is why we go to the body for answers.
We are looking at our unconscious motivations for approval, control and safety. These beliefs relate to survival and can keep us stuck in suffering. You can also ask as a reverse inquiry question. The benefits often relate to approval, control and safety.
“I don’t get anything out of hiding out and playing small”
“I don’t get anything out of being sick”
“I don’t need to believe I am unlovable”
Healing Takes Time
We have been deeply conditioned and it takes time to see through and deconstruct our beliefs that we are only our thoughts and experiences. It takes time for our body and nervous system to feel safe enough to ease up on hypervigilance and reactivity. We need ongoing felt experiences of resting in awareness without being hooked by thoughts. It takes time. Be patient and kind with yourself.
I was originally trained in Scott Kiloby’s Living Inquiries, which have now evolved into the Kiloby Inquiries. I use both methods in my sessions with people.