Self observation is a state of consciousness where we view ourselves, our thoughts, feelings and actions in an “objective” and non-judgmental manner. The fact that we refer to it a state of consciousness implies that we have other states of consciousness, which is true.
We can also observe ourselves in a “subjective” state of consciousness. For example, we can see our own actions as bad and feel guilty or embarrassed. In this subjective state we may judge ourselves or even compliment ourselves. Each of these examples implies that our observation is filtered through a certain context, usually a concept in our own head – a belief system. This system may come from a habitual pattern set up by our personal life experiences, or from what others in our environment have taught us through education, culture, religious philosophy, etc.
We tend to live in a state of consciousness where we are not really observing ourselves at all. Our consciousness is absorbed by our activities of life. We become “identified” with life. Our identity gets lost into the events of life. For example, we take our child to their rugby game and when they score a goal we are thinking of nothing but the thrill of competition, the game, the victory! Or we become completely identified when we order a frosty take away fizzy drink on a steamy summer day only to spill it all over the floor of our car while we negotiate door opening, jostling bags of groceries, and getting ourselves situated in our car seat. Sticky soda and ice everywhere! In that moment our whole self gets lost in the disappointment, anger and despair of the circumstance. These are two extreme examples of positive and negative events, but our awareness also gets absorbed in the constant stream of smaller events happening all day long, every day. We, in fact, forget ourselves from moment to moment. We are heavily identified with the events of life.
Self remembering is also a state of consciousness. It is one where we remember that we are not the events of our life. We remember that we are not exclusively our physical body; that we are not exclusively our emotions; that we are not exclusively our thoughts. The fact is, these things are so changable we can say that none of these aspects of ourself are our true self. Our true self has more to do with awareness. Our consciousness. But we can even ask, who is being aware? What is the thing that has consciousness? We would call that our Being. Our Being is our true, unchangable Self. In a moment of self remembering of our own Being we see the perfection of our inner, eternal reality. This can be utterly freeing.
So, in meditation, we practice objective self observation and also self remembering of the Being. Every time we have a thought that pulls us into a long chain of associated subjective throughts, we become aware, and break the chain. We bring our awareness back to non-thinking and non-identification with the exterior world.
After some time of doing this in meditation, we’ll find we are less likely to get caught up in our daily life dramas and events. This is because the state of consciousness associated with self observation and self remembering will continue with us outside of the meditation.
If we can prevent ourselves from being lost in our surroundings, and if we maintain an objective viewpoint and an inner recognition of our own true Self, we are likely to be more compassionate, humble, kind and considerate. We will be inclined to listen more, to see others’ points of view, and perceive the bigger picture of our life circumstances. When we are not personally identified by a situation, we can be less attached and more harmonious in our responses. Less reactionary. Less victimised.
We will see this leads to better relationships, a peace of heart and mind, and a life full of wisdom and love. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?