When we follow the prompting of our soul we have no choice but to embark on our spiritual journey to find our way back to our spiritual home, and so we enter the path of return with great expectations. We can go through our journey without a teacher and by trial and error we advance at snail pace with much pain and suffering involved. With training from an experienced guide and mentor, however, we can make our journey less painful and with investing our own efforts we can advance on the path with speed. One of the lessons we have to learn is known as self-observation which is not to be mistaken with self-reflection or self-awareness or self-understanding. Self-observation is like self-watching, to collect information about yourself, your insights, your thought patterns, feelings and behaviour. It is about knowing yourself.
Know Thyself. Knowledge of oneself is the only real knowledge, for as one knows oneself, one understands, only then may one truly understand another. Hence, the Oracle of Delphi proclaiming to know thyself, for within each of us, all is contained. Self-knowledge is all encompassing. It is the highest form of knowledge surpassing all other knowledge. What is learned on one scale of experience can be applied to all scales. Self knowledge is also timeless, what is gained in one era, benefits all subsequent generations.
Man, know thyself, was the challenge and the goal of humankind ever since ancient times, it was practiced in ancient India the Indus Valley, in ancient Egypt, in ancient Greece and several other ancient cultures. It is said ‘know yourself and you will know the universe’ why? Because, we are each a ‘micro universe’ and we are each as complex as the ‘macro universe’ is complex. The way I see it is that we wake up to the fact that we are each a walking talking dancing creative miracle! I’ve always been fascinated with the complexities of people, mesmerized with this idea and I am still in awe of the diverse brilliance of the complexities, the inventiveness, the creative talents, the endless miraculous astonishing resourcefulness and ingenuity of the human. This goes both ways sadly, for good and evil.
I was blessed for whatever reason, perhaps because I’m an old soul, maybe I’ve done my share of spiritual work in previous lifetime/s, but I was able to self-observe already as a child. I had no idea this was a part of the work on the spiritual path. It came naturally to me. And I am always more than happy to be able to pass this knowledge to anyone who wants to learn it. Once this ability is mastered, you’ll not only know yourself, but you’ll gain a whole new perspective of looking at fellow humans. You’ll have a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the world and every situation and your life will never be the same after that. That I can guarantee so here goes and remember to have fun in the process.
Usually we are in the habit of looking at, watching, observing, criticizing others. Whether good or bad, we are very quick to like or dislike and to pass judgment over others, be that true or false. We stick to our perceptions and beliefs according to our conditioning. We all do that so don’t feel bad about it. It is how it is.
Now for this training I’d like you to shift your perspective and instead of observing others to judge or criticize, make a point of looking at yourself, to watch and observe yourself, what are you thinking about and how are you feeling? How are you interacting with others around you? Are you kind or mean, rude, short tempered or patient? Do you actually listen to people when they talk to you? Do you genuinely have compassion for them? Do you like, love or hate people? Are you in the habit of being happy or sad? Are you full of fear or are you courageous. Are you patient or impatient, do you love and accept yourself or do you feel inadequate. Just observe all sides of yourself.
Self-observation is not about you finding fault with yourself nor is it to find greatness in yourself. It is not about you feeling good or bad about yourself. It is not about you becoming paranoid or self-absorbed. It is not about self-criticism either nor is it about condemning yourself if you find yourself more negatively inclined. Don’t be disappointed in yourself, don’t be proud of yourself, just observe who you are in reality, how you are and what you are all about. Don’t look away when you observe something false just observe your thoughts and feelings and learn about who you truly are. Self-observation is neutral. You are in neutral mode as you watch yourself. You observe your inner being and your reaction to the outside world around you. You do not condemn the negative, nor do you praise the positive. It is how it is. There is no triumph and there is no defeat. There is no self-manipulation and there is no reprogramming. Observe yourself interacting with the world but at the same time observe your true inner feelings and thoughts.
The whole purpose of self-observation is to identify with your Essence. The Essence has no preferences. Your Essence does not get involved nor sucked into any of your daily life of adventures. No joys no heartaches, no crying, no agonies, no thrills, triumphs, successes nor failures. The Essence does not care about all that, it just observes and watches the interesting drama.
All it takes is a shift of your awareness away from being centered in the personal self to being anchored in the Essence. Imagine yourself as a child watching a group of ants going about their business, or watching a spider spinning its web. You are just observing in wonderment without interfering without judging one way or another. This takes some practice of course. But when you continue with this practice slowly but surely in time you will be anchored in the Essence and layer after layer of negativity will begin to fade away. Slowly but surely your ‘Truth’ will emerge. Your Essence will emerge.
When you are anchored in your Essence you begin to question your motives, why you do what you do, why you think and feel the way you do. For example why a part of you lies to another part of you. Observe that, don’t worry about it, we all do that. At least now you have become aware of it and so you might actually stop to play this self-deceit game. When you are living your Essence you won’t find pleasure in joining in useless gossip as you recognize it for what it is, useless, harmful and senseless. When you live in your essence you recognize true and false immediately.
The goal of self-observation is to discover who you really are, what you are all about and how true you are to your Self, namely Your Essence. Enjoy the process and your inner growth to your true authentic self.
Self-observation should not be a lot of work requiring much effort on your part. If you feel that, then you’re not doing it right.
I used to often play a game as a child. Where I grew up children were always allowed to be with the grown ups. While other kids were playing hide and seek or eating cake and ice cream, I preferred to be with the grown ups, pretending to be a grown up myself, I sat amongst them or on my father’s lap, and I inevitably would perch a part of me up at the ceiling hovering and looking down at everybody, in particular I would observe myself, what I was thinking and feeling. For me it was a lot of fun. I loved playing this game. I found out a lot about who I am and I am still finding out! Maybe that is why I love people, I love life, I love my own company, I never feel lonely and I am never ever bored.
In time with practice perhaps you can detach your Essence and perch on top somewhere and observe yourself. Perhaps it will just happen naturally without you even willing it. There’s nothing to be afraid of, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Be prepared to love and to embrace yourself with all your complexities. When you can do that you will be able to embrace and love everything and everyone in the world.
In esoteric language this is called ‘activating the Observer within.’ It is a very important step on the spirit
ual path. Know Thyself and You Know the Universe. Know and understand the self, and you will know and understand others. Self-observation is described as an intimate pathway into one’s own body, mind and spirit. It allows us to experience new levels of self-awareness and by so doing to live more conscious and harmonious lives.