I wonder how many of us actually turn inwards to examine ourselves when seeing others with a contrary character. My observation is that we mostly turn outwards and either silently or out loud condemn others rather than looking into ourselves. Do you remember the last time you witnessed behavior that upset you and sent you off into self righteous judgement and condemnation? What were the thoughts and feelings inside you? What did you do with them?
I was in the New Orleans airport the other day at dinner time. There were a lot of people flying in and out at that time. I stopped at a Subway to get a six inch vegetarian sub and a glass of water. The three employees on the line were slow and inexperienced. The woman behind me was complaining about the “worse service she’d ever experienced.” When she finally got to the counter to give her order she angrily berated the staff in a way that was very confrontational.
I looked at the three ‘kids’ as they shrugged their shoulders and kept asking what she wanted. She finally got so upset at their non response that she stormed off sputtering condescension with self righteous indignation. I turned inward to examine my nonverbal responses. I became aware of some negative thoughts and feelings toward the whole scene as well as some compassion. My self observation brought a new awareness to my character. I was humbled.
Lao Tzu gave wise counsel twenty four hundred years ago: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” What’s your experience with this sequence of watchfulness? How aware are you of your thoughts, words, actions, habits, character and destiny? How often do you watch your inner workings?
When we practice conscious examination or self observation we turn our awareness in toward our feelings, thoughts, words, actions and habitual patterns. We become aware of beliefs that shape our character and create our environments. We begin to see with new eyes that allow us to shift our negative thinking toward a greater compassion for others and ourselves. In this process we become aware of our common humanity with all its’ tragedy and comedy.
In looking deeply into our common humanity we begin to recognize the depth of the human spirit which is connected to the Source Self we all share but fail to remember. In this Self Remembering, we recognize the struggles our lack of awareness produce. We notice the paradox of our command/control mind while also noticing the heart mind that simply wants to harmoniously participate with Life. How aware are you of your participation with this inner paradox? How often do you Remember to Remember who you truly are and are not?
Ongoing self observation and Self Remembering is a practice that can change our lives in ways that not only benefit us but all those we find ourselves with. Through this awareness training we become, little by little, more conscious of our true character, our higher Self, our True Self.
- When you find your emotional temperature rising; STOP and simply watch the thoughts come and let them go. Then drop into your heart center and breathe in loving companion presence for yourself and breathe it out to those you are observing. Notice the change within and without. Remember that Calmness is the Cradle of Power. Calm and Center inside and out.