The repetitive or repeating question technique is one of the most powerful subconscious mind exercises for self-discovery. Every serious explorer needs this for their spiritual toolbox. See how you can use it to enhance several spiritual exploration tools.
The Repetitive Question Exercise
Exercises that help us get below the conscious mind will help us understand the programming that guides our thinking. Using a question to drill down to the subconscious is a powerful way accessible to everyone without a mental illness. That’s why this technique is used with many other inner work exercises.
It’s important not to confuse this with repetitive questioning with the symptom of a mental illness where a person continually asks the same question. This kind of uncontrollable behavior is a sign of dementia.
We are talking about using a technique to probe the deeper levels of mind. It’s a way to search our awareness for answers. It is a process similar to the “Socratic Method of teaching.” In the Socratic Method, the teacher uses different questions to guide the student to the desired answer. In this case, we use the same question repeatedly.
Many clinicians use subconscious mind exercises like this in psycho or regression therapy. We use it in many processes of spiritual exploration. We’ll discuss how it’s used in some specific processes later in this article.
In this method, you ask the same question multiple times, searching for a different answer each time. The first few times you hear the question, your mind will grab the easily accessible answers. But, as you repeat the question, the mind searches deep levels, past the socially programmed answers, past the immediate memory to the subconscious mind.
A Repetitive question used in this manner gets below our superficial automatic responses. It drills down to the core thinking patterns, values, and beliefs. It enables us to get through the Ego filters and our cultural programming.
The Ego and cultural programming set up filters in our thinking and values. These are what create pre-programmed responses to life. Repetitive questioning helps us get through these filters.
Powerful Subconscious Mind Exercises
The subconscious is where the authentic answers are often found. You use it to identify roadblocks that are impeding your growth. It unmasks fears that we have suppressed or repressed. So, you uncover some highly emotional issues. Because of this, we recommend you use it with another person familiar with the technique the first few times you use it. You want someone familiar with the process and how to handle sensitive, emotional issues.
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the emotional check-in process before using this technique. It’s an excellent method to help maintain and regain emotional equilibrium. Here are some guidelines on how to use this process.
The Repeating Question Inner Work Technique
The repetitive question technique is simple. With a partner, you sit facing each other. Your partner asks, and you answer. Every time you hear the question search for a new answer. You jot down a few keywords to help you remember your answer. Then your partner asks the same question again.
This process works best with two people. One person repeatedly asks the same question, giving the other time to provide a different answer. When we repeat the question, it forces us to search for authentic answers. However, you can also do this exercise on your own.
We recommend you use a timer to stop the activity at 5 minutes in either case. Then take the time to record your answers in your spiritual journal. It’s essential to record your discoveries. They will provide you with critical clues to any roadblocks you may have. It also helps you to see your incremental growth.
You can do several 5-minute sessions with the same question. Remember that subconscious mind exercises can be emotionally draining, so be mindful not to push yourself too hard.
Eventually, we get past the canned responses or excuses of the Ego to the core thought processes. Sometimes our answers may contradict what we would typically provide. The answers are often Eureka moments of self-discovery, which is why we consider it a powerful inner work tool.
The person asking the questions needs to be patient and wait for the answer. They also need to be non-judgemental. Remaining as emotionally neutral as possible can be difficult because we are programmed to judge. Try to be neutral with body language. Don’t cross arms or legs. Do not encourage or discourage any answer. It is better not to respond at all. Just wait for the other person to document anything, then repeat the question.
One question for 5 minutes seems like a long time, but time goes by quickly once you get started. When you begin, you’ll give superficial answers. As you keep asking the same question, you will discover core truths. It will pull up some interesting data about your memories and the emotions attached to them.
The basic ground rules for this exercise are:
- Be patient.
- Remain non-judgmental and maintain total confidentiality.
- Give honest answers.
- Don’t say things you want the other person to hear.
- It’s best to work with someone you don’t know well.
- Each time they give you the question, think of a new answer. Take your time.
When you use the repeating question on your own, set a timer, be honest. Repeat the question aloud, don’t just repeat it in your head. You will probably need to do this exercise for at least 5 minutes to get to anything meaningful.
It’s essential to realize this exercise can bring up repressed memories and feelings. We recommend using the emotional check process with this exercise. It is vital to maintain a calm non-emotional state of mind. This technique is a profound inner work tool for personal discovery. Sometimes it can become emotionally unsettling.
Some people find that it also yields better results if you’ve done this exercise a few times. The more you do it, the easier it is to get past your programmed answers.
Examples of Repeating Questions
Here is the list of repeating questions we recommend for identifying significant memories. You can tailor this list to fit any psychological or spiritual topic.
- Tell me about a memory that always makes you happy.
- Tell me about a memory that always makes you sad.
- What is the oldest memory you have, how does it make you feel?
- Tell me about a memory you associate with hate.
- Tell me about a memory you associate with love.
- What are the memories of childhood that bring you the most joy?
- Tell me about a memory you associate with nature.
- Tell me about a memory you associate with family.
- What memories bring up the emotion of fear?
You’ll find this process used with in the following methods:
In the exploring memories process, the repeating question is used to find specific types of memories. We start by searching for a positive snapshot. Sometimes memories can get buried or confused with dreams. So, we start our search by asking ourselves questions to target a specific kind of memory. Here are some examples of questions we use to find specific memories:
- What is the first positive memory of my childhood?
- What is a memory of my childhood that brings me joy and contentment?
- What memories do I have of my teens are the most joyful?
These kinds of questions help us probe our memory to find connections and patterns. You can ask about locations, such as your home or a relative’s house. After developing a list of positive memories, we search for the negative.
It’s not uncommon for memories to be combined or confused with dreams or imaginary scenarios. When we begin to examine them more closely, we recognize these relationships, which helps us sort them out.
Automatic writing is a process that works better when it has a target or purpose. If we just let the imagination go wild, we may not end up with anything we can decipher. However, if we set the process in motion by repeating a question as we write, we are more likely to get meaningful data. Examples of these types of questions you can use would be:
- What do I really want to do with my life and my time going forward?
- What causes me to react the way I do sometimes when around XYZ?
When you go to any Enneagram conference, you’ll always do a few repeating questions targeted at your personality type or instinct. One common this kind of repetitive question is used is to divide the group by personality type and ask what it’s like when their type moves toward integration. So, for example, the type eight, the challenger would ask about what it’s like to integrate a point two, the helper. Here’s how this question is asked:
- Tell me a way that you help others and what it feels like to help them?
Comparative analysis is formalized process for comparative religious study. Once you research a topic, it’s time to ask yourself questions about what the data could mean and how it makes you feel. Even though this is an analytical process, we want to make sure we are honest about the effect of the data.
In this process, we stop doing emotional check-ins to ensure our emotions aren’t influencing our research. We take it one step further by asking ourselves the questions, “what could this data mean, and how do I feel about it?”
Both the emotional check-in process and the repetitive question also ensure we understand the implications of the data and can reasonably handle the effects it may have on deeply held beliefs.
The repeating question is one of the most versatile subconscious mind exercises that helps us understand the programming of the psyche. It’s a technique we use with other mental processes like exploring memories or the Enneagram.
If you have questions about using this technique or have suggestions and comments, don’t hesitate to contact us.