The art of hanging out with your experience

Inquiry can sometimes be seen as a kind of ‘hanging out’ with your experience.

So what does it mean, to hang out with your experience?

Well, when you’re hanging out with someone, you are being with them in an easy way. There’s no pressure. You’re not requiring them to be any different. And you have no particular agenda. You’re just hanging out. You’re letting them be as they are, and you yourself are easy and relaxed. Hanging out also means that you aren’t leaving. You’re not getting up and walking out. You’re staying together, staying close. It has a kind of easy intimacy and closeness. You’re open to them and they’re open to you.

You can also think of hanging out with a coral reef.

You lower yourself down into the water and you just hang to see what comes swimming by.

You don’t know what you’ll find. You don’t have any particular agenda. You’re open to whatever it is this comes along, and you’re interested to see what it is. Hanging out has this kind of easy, undemanding, open and relaxed attitude.

So we need to learn to hang out with our experience in this way.

It’s a very unusual attitude!

Trying to fix or change yourself is not hanging out with yourself. Neither is judging or criticising yourself or your experience. Walking away from yourself is not hanging out with yourself. In inquiry, you learn to hang out with yourself, in that kind, friendly, warm, un-pressured, agenda-free, intimate, contactful and aware way.

This applies at many stages of the inquiry process.

When you check to begin an inquiry, you take some time to enter your inner world, to get more in touch and see what shows up. How would it be to do this as a kind of hanging out – not hunting around for something to get busy with, but just intimately approaching your inner world in an open way to see where you are today, what’s up for you.

The same goes for any particular experience you might be having.

How would it be to hang out with a belief that you have?

To stay with it, and explore it and let it reveal more about itself? Or to hang out with an emotional reaction, letting yourself feel it, taste it, get to know it in an intimate and easy way taking lots of time – be it your anger or your sadness or your fear.

Or to hang out with a sensation in your consciousness, say a subtle tingling that you’re noticing in some part of your body, to feel it and stay in touch in a light and curious and contactful way, neither pushing it somewhere nor walking away.

Hanging out means taking the time to get in touch with your experience.

It also means taking the time to find the words to express what you’re experiencing.

These might not be obvious to you at first. You might not know, and in those vital moments of not knowing, you can remember to simply hang out: you stay in touch, stay present, and let the experience gradually reveal itself, or begin to find in an easy and unpressured way, the word that seems to express what you’re in touch with.

It’s worth saying that inquiry doesn’t always feel like hanging out!

Sometimes it can be very intense and we’re burning with curiosity, exploring and an active and engaged way that can feel fiery and alive. Then hanging out might not be the first word that comes to mind! But even then, the underlying attitude of a spacious allowing of whatever is going on remains an essential element of being with our selves, together with our fiery love of the journey.

Hanging out gives you lots of space to be yourself, to be where you are, and to discover your self, to let your inner world reveal itself in its own time, to find the words that express your experience. And to be deeply touched and affected by whatever it is that we find. It is an essential element of inquiry.

The inspiration for this post

This post was inspired by our recent Dive-In with Dom session, in which the phrase ‘hanging out’ seemed to resonate with many of us.

For those of you who missed it, here’s a short guided exercise from that meeting, which you might find valuable:

The next Dive-In with Dom

Our next meeting in this ongoing series will be on Wednesday 5 January 2022 (at the usual time of 6:30pm UK).

Watch your mailbox for more details, as well as the Zoom link, which we’ll share a week in advance with those who have registered previously.