Please feel free to read this blog and join in. I hope you will write something inspirational, inspiring, spiritual, controversial, amusing, engaging or just plain run of the mill. But please don't be brusque, churlish or licentious.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Experiential Method

The experiential method enables you to go inside yourself and investigate your own experience of what is.  Rather than looking outward at objects and other people you use awareness to look inward.  The experiential method is often used for exploring emotional situations like:  despair, anxiety, love, happiness, hate, etc., but it can also be used for discovering answers to more complex phenomena or questions such as "What is the mind?" or "What is it like to be peaceful?"  There are six steps in the method:          
1.  Ask the Question: "What is it like to experience _______________?"   Use the blank space for writing in the phenomenon you would like to investigate.

2.  Self Observation:  Being relaxed is a key component to this part because you will use awareness to observe your own perceptions, feelings, and thoughts.  Self observation is being able to notice what is taking place inside yourself, in the present moment, without interpretation or judgment.

It is easier to investigate phenomena that you can experience in the present moment such as peacefulness, the mind, and love rather than things you have to re-live such as anxiety, depression, and jealousy, unless, of course, you are experiencing them right now.

To continue on with the next step let's actually do a subjective experiment to illustrate how it's done.  Let's investigate the age old question, "What is the mind?"  Please read the third step below, do it and then we will go on with step no. 4. 

3.  Data Collection:  Sit in a comfortable position with a notepad in your lap and a pencil or pen in your hand.  Close your eyes, relax, and ask the question, "What is it like to experience the mind?"  Take a breath in and exhale slowly and ask the question again - "What is it like to experience the mind?"  Write down whatever you become aware of: feelings, visions, images, words, thoughts, sounds, etc., that are emanating from within that relate to the question ("What is the mind?").

Write freely and don't worry about the accuracy of your handwriting or penmanship.  You may be just writing one syllable words, short phrases, or whatever - it doesn't matter.  You are simply collecting data in the present moment.  Take notes as long as you are receiving information from within.

So, get your pad and pencil, close your eyes, and ask the question, "What is it like to experience the mind?"

4. Analysis:  Look at your notes and see if you can use them to write statements.  Write in first person, present tense.  Use "I" or "My" statements as if you are experiencing the situation right now.

For example, if you were questioning what it's like to experience peacefulness you might write, "I feel my heart beating.  It is calm.  My breathing is shallow and even.  I feel no pain. 

5.  Common elements:  In order to complete this next step there must be other investigators (co-investigators).  More is better.  So, please join us in the monumental, ground-breaking event to find out more about the mind. 

Also, someone, other than the co-investigators, looks at the statements and identifies those aspects of the statements which are present in all of the co-investigators writings.  That will be my job - your humble host. This is important in order to arrive at a consensus regarding the structure of the experience being investigated (the mind in this case).

6.  Hypothesis:  After all the data is in, final analysis made, and common elements solidified, an hypothesis is made attempting to answer the question, "What is it like to experience the mind?"  The hypothesis in this case is not based on an idea but rather on actual lived facts found in human experiences.  If sufficient evidence supports the hypothesis it may be re-stated as a conclusion.

We need 25 co-investigators in order to make a valid hypothesis.  I encourage you to become a co-investigator and post your statements about your self-observation concerning mind.  Be a subjective research scientist.


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