When talking about observation, we mostly refer to observing something outside our- selves. What I want to point to however, is observing what goes on inside, especially within our everyday thought process. Twenty years ago when I began studying the ‘Work’ of G. I. Gurdjieff with a group in Denver, I was challenged to engage the practice of self observation; to ‘wake up’ and make myself more conscious of myself. What???
Consciousness and change are inseparable. If you want to change in any significant way you have to ‘wake up‘ to your unconscious thoughts, words, and actions; what you are not aware of because of your mechanical programs and habitual patterns. Socrates directs us to “know thyself” and most of us have no clue how to do this or we simply think we know ourselves when we actually don’t. No offense, we’re all in this together.
How many times have you pointed out to someone how difficult ‘they‘ are and taken no responsibility for your reactions to ‘them?‘ How many difficulties do you create by projecting onto others what you can’t accept in yourself? As a student I asked: “What is psychology?” The answer from the ‘Work‘ was: “Psychology can be said to be what you are not aware of.” This points to increasing our awareness through self-observation.
The object of self-observation is to become conscious of the self that continually tries to change others rather than changing itself. When you come to realize this, you can work at changing yourself rather than others which is where change starts. You’re able to forgive and befriend yourself and others more readily as you come to know how unaware you are. Forgive them for they know not what they do? They are me and you.
By seeing and becoming more conscious, by accepting and acknowledging your lack of awareness, you’ve already changed. As you continue to tolerate the idea that there is much you’re not aware of, that you don’t always have to win, be right, and so on, you grow in wisdom and inner peace. This all starts with self-observation. In this practice there’s no judgement, just awareness. You no longer beat yourself or others down.
The method is very simple. It starts with knowing that you create your own dramas, that life’s complications are created by you taking issue with opinions you’ve accumulated along the way. Slow down and watch your thoughts before you speak or act. If you find yourself in negative emotions simply observe them and let them go. Ask, ‘Is that true without any possible doubt?‘ Then flip it over and see how its opposite might be true.
Let the light of your consciousness into your unexplored inner darkness. Challenge your accusations, dislikes, suspicions, attitudes, negativity, perspectives, assumptions and mechanicalness. Observe within, enlighten up, and ask “Is that so?” Let go, smile awhile, laugh a lot, keep observing and begin to see who you are and who you’re not. . .