What is Detective Work & How to Start Doing it
Back in January, life got a bit too intense and overwhelming for me. My body and heart felt unbearably heavy all the time so I reached out for help to a teacher; I needed to understand what was going on. I needed to do some ‘detective work’, she insisted, and spend time on my own, with nothing - at all - on my agenda for a couple of days, to make space for listening. And so rest, cry, watch my favorite Jane the Virgin episodes (guilt-free), journal, meditate and meditate some more I did.
What is detective work?
You know how detectives in movies and TV shows spend time looking at the most basic pieces of information, collecting them, thinking, collecting some more and back to deep thinking?
When you do detective work on yourself, you allow yourself to become the most important piece of information you have to understand yourself. Being a detective means spending time asking yourself questions about feelings that make you uncomfortable, situations that make you cringe, experiences that make you enter in panic, why some tears you can’t hold in, and everything that makes your heart heavy (and everything you fancy knowing about, for that matter).
Becoming your own detective means making yourself, your thoughts, questions & aspirations your most compelling clues for self-reflection & learning.
In a way, it’s what the psychologist does with you; hopefully, it’s also what your reiki healer, yoga teacher, chiropractor, life coach and all other soul healers invite you to do.
Becoming a detective with yourself, you embark on a life-long journey of research work on and with yourself; you can call it mental self-care, self-awareness work, body & mind sensing, and probably many other ways that fit your needs/expectations/impressions/mind better - which is exactly what it’s for.
If your self-care practice doesn’t involve questioning,
then you’re doing it in vain.
Detective work is a crucial component of self-care (and definitely of your yoga practice). Self-care without questioning, asking for clarification, investigating, is just in vain and won’t be the answer to your needs in the long run. If you are serious about making space for yourself and for your well-being, then you need to add this practice to your toolbox.
What Will you Find when you Do Detective Work?
You might not find all the answers straight away; in fact, you will rarely find the answers straight away. It requires time, dedication and consistency - and lots of time off letting your mind wander.
You can start with basic questions - they don’t have to be the big ones like what’s my life purpose and who am I. Starting small will help train your mind to be open to the answers - you can’t force the answers, you need to listen and as the phrase says...
'When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.'
You are your own teacher - and you appear with the answers for yourself when you're ready to receive them. With time. Practice. Love for yourself.
How to Start Doing it
Over time, you will find your own ways to ask, question and listen carefully to the answers your mind and body give you. In the meantime, I hope these 2 ways will help you begin your deep self-reflection (detective) practice.
1. Honest Journaling
The key here is to not.censor.yourself. For many years I spent journaling, I censored myself - I was always afraid someone would open my notebooks and judge me. I was afraid someone was secretly watching over my shoulders and pointing their fingers at me. I was also most definitely afraid of what I’d write if I let my mind wander and rule what my hand was coming up with.
Of course, journaling in the most honest of ways allows you to find many more clues. So next time you grab your pen and paper, make sure to let your mind go wherever it wants to go. It’s doesn’t have to be important, it doesn’t have to be - and definitely forget about the words ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘right,’ ‘wrong,’ and all other adjectives that might make you feel inadequate.
Below is how I’ve been doing journaling lately, with my Practice You journal by Elena Brower. Definitely worth investing in if you’re not sure how to start and/or want to explore your mind further. (Click right to see my journaling!)
2. Meditating with questioning
Although I’ll definitely sound like a broken record here, m.e.d.i.t.a.t.e. Seriously, sit down, lie down, and just do it. You don’t need to know about it, you can simply follow your breath, connect to it, and then start asking.
Why am I feeling angry recently? Why am I so sad? Why does [person name] drain my energy? Why is this thought always on my mind lately? - these are examples of questions you can ask yourself. It can also be what you want for dinner if you never know what to eat - no clue is smaller than the other. There’s no hierarchy in your thoughts when it comes to getting to know yourself.
I repeat a question over and over again in my mind until I get some kind of answer. Maybe I burst into tears right then and there, maybe I start venting and ranting about why something makes me angry, maybe nothing happens and I get frustrated. Or maybe I get the answers, or maybe I have to wait a couple of days to get epiphanies…
If you need a little hand with your meditation practice, click below:
Creating yourself a sacred space where you feel safe to explore will definitely enhance this detective practice - keep an eye out for a future post on that. Want it to your inbox? Sign up here (+ get your FREE meditation workbook + bonus guided meditation!).
Leave me a comment to tell me about your detective practice!
Do you have one? How does this sound to you if you don’t?