The starting point of all forms of Self development begins by becoming ‘aware’ of how your mind functions on a normal basis while you’re not tending it, or realizing what’s happening internally, and why. In order to begin observing ourselves requires us to learn how to take on a dissociated position as a form of “second person perspective”. We move outside of the direct experience we’re always involved in with our own internal dialoguing and feelings, and we simply take a perspective of observing our natural thoughts, and the natural processes that are always taking place within us as the basis for creating our everyday, moment by moment experiences as a relationship and interaction with everyone and everything around us. We’re constantly creating our life experiences by how we feel, think, and what memories we use as templates for rerunning and reforming our present experiences to mean the same thing, and be about the same thing as our past experiences.
The first key to all forms of introspection, self-reflection, and self-observation, is to realize that at no point in the process do we judge ourselves for what we feel and think, nor do we ever get involved in the dialogue of judging, explaining or justifying what we think, why we’re thinking it, and what we do. Because strangely enough, what you’ll find is that just as we defend our perspectives and behaviors to others, there’s an aspect of our internal dialogue that even justifies to ourselves why we think and do what we do as a means of making it okay, which allows us to “keep it”. Our goal here, in self-reflecting, is taking an objective perspective to simply begin realizing what type of thoughts we think on a regular basis, for no particular reason, or as a part of redundant thoughts born out of a theme we’re always playing out in our mind as a way of interpreting our outer reality by way of our inner reality which comes largely from a completely unaware state of automatic feelings, modes of thinking, and dwelling in memories of some sort that we replay constantly when we’re not focused on anything in particular, as a form of random or entertaining type of thoughts, that are for the most part habitual in nature.
To begin this practice, you have to simply make a commitment to it, and remind yourself periodically throughout your day, when it’s convenient, to simply stop what you’re doing, and become aware of what you’ve been thinking about. What type of story we’re you running through your mind, what type of description or explanation were you giving about something, or what memory were you rethinking about? Sometimes we run abstract ideas through our mind from a TV show we watched, a line in a movie, a song that we heard, something someone said to us, an article we read, something we’re curious about, wondering about, or as a form of anticipation of what’s going to happen in a situation much like a form of prophecy. Whatever it is, simply notice what it is, and become aware of it. Allow yourself to simply notice what it is that runs through your mind unattended.
As you begin becoming aware of the type of thoughts you tend to think without intention, allow yourself to also recognize what memories you’re always in the process of thinking about and running through your imagination in a variety of scenarios, and that you use to form predictions of the future by reliving them in the present. Stop and observe what ideas you run through your mind as a means of anticipating an event or activity. Then, allow yourself to notice how you “feel” based on what you tend to think about. What emotions and moods you tend to be in as a result of your thinking and imagining. Notice that all memories as a generalized idea that plays out a theme of some sort which have a distinct mood or emotional atmosphere to them. As you replay them, it causes you to feel the same way you felt when you were experiencing the memory. Just by thinking about them, makes you feel the same way. Allow yourself to notice how your thoughts are connected to your feelings. How thoughts and emotions are always connected. When you think about happy experiences, you feel happy. When you think about sad experiences, you feel sad. And how these emotions, feelings, and moods is either what cause you to think about whatever you’re thinking about, or they’re produced because you’re thinking about whatever you’re thinking about.
As you go through your day and someone or something causes an emotional reaction in you, have the awareness to stop in the middle of it, refrain from reacting to it, and simply observe what’s happening inside your body. Notice the distinct sensations you’re feeling in certain parts of your body that have certain qualities to them, such as, a tingling, jolting, buzzy, sinking, butterflies, sharp, dull, painful, arousing, and so on. As you recognize how it makes you feel, also notice what memory you associate the feeling too, and what behavior its prompting you to do. How do you want to act in reaction to it? What natural behavior would it normally cause in you if you weren’t refraining from acting? Notice the connection between an emotional trigger, the memory you associate to it, and the behavior inherent in it. This is what forms “reactions” as unconscious behaviors that are formed from a memory of some sort. Again, don’t judge or try to justify what’s happening, simply notice it. Become aware of it.
Also, as you go through your day, allow yourself to notice how the emotional energy of others feels. Become aware that you’re constantly picking up on the emotions of others, and they’re affecting you in a somewhat indirect and subtle, if not very direct manner. Then, as in the previous lessons, allow yourself to notice how their emotions “affect” (or infect) you by entering into or moving through you, and stimulating in you those same emotions and feelings. Become aware of how your body is being stimulated by the emotions being displayed around you. Notice how you can sense the energy of a room just by walking into it from the outside. How the room holds the energy of the people and activities being conducted or experienced by the people within it. And again, simply notice how the emotional atmosphere forms the same type of feelings in you just by being “in it”.
As you become more self-aware, you simultaneously become more aware of others and your environment. You can start becoming aware of what is normally happening inside of you and too you by your environment and your own thoughts. You can become aware of what memories you tend to hang onto and continue living out of that shaping your current perception of things, what you connect to first internally, then externally, and what mood or emotional state you tend to live out of as a result. You can begin becoming aware of how others directly affect and influence you just through the nature of the energy exchange that’s taking place as feelings, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You can begin shedding light on what’s normally operating in a habitual manner outside of your direct awareness. Just the awareness alone helps you to begin taking conscious control over your own thoughts, imagining, and emotional states.
We can only work with what we have a conscious awareness and basic understanding of. Becoming self-aware is the first step to moving into the practices that involve self-mastery by being able to not only control your own state of mind, but being able to direct your life by intentionally using your awareness of how feelings, thoughts, emotions, memories, and what we imagine as live scenarios directly affect how we first create our experiences, then use them as future memories to create more of the same type of experiences. We can obtain a new level of awareness around our relationships and how others act to influence us, what they activate and bring out in us, and how they serve to develop those tendencies in us. By becoming aware of what we were previously unaware of, we can see how it operates on us, through us, and because of us, and we can begin consciously controlling it and redirecting it in a more favorable manner. We can learn how to use positive memories and thoughts to automatically produce a positive state of mind. We learn how to stay present in our life instead of being caught up in endless distractions that keep us unconscious in the most basic sense. As with all things . . . awareness is the key! We can only work with what we’re aware of.
Dr. Linda Gadbois
About the author:
Dr. Linda is a Spiritual Scientist and scholar of Hermetic Sciences and Ancient Wisdom traditions. She’s a professional educator and trainer for all areas of personal transformation, self-creation, mind development, and soul/spiritual evolution. She practices Integrative Medicine with a special emphasis on Psychology and Creative therapies. She conducts ongoing classes, Playshops, and Adventure Seminars, and is available for private or group training, mentoring, and speaking engagements.
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