Mindfulness, Meditation, Self-observation
Mindfulness and meditation are often combined which is correct in that way that both are about being present and the awareness in the present. They are however not necessarily synonymous. Mindfulness is a larger concept in which all activities involving the practice of conscious presence in the present moment are included. Mindfulness can be any meditative activity and a meditation can in turn be a mindfulness exercise.
“Self-observation” is a mindfulness exercise that deals with being present and aware in the present moment, with oneself as the focus. To actively observe one’s own thoughts, actions and feelings in the present.
Many of our decisions and actions are taken unconsciously by our subconscious part of the psyche. For example, the programming that we carry from childhood, ingrained behavior patterns and situations that trigger us and more, can create thoughts and emotions that dictate our actions.
Through self-observation we discover our learned emotional, thought and behavioral patterns.
If we are in awareness we will notice our emotional shifts before we enter into autopilot mode. We will have time to stop our automatic emotional development and distance ourselves from our programming, subconscious decisions and our triggers.
If we are only aware of a fragment of our feelings, thoughts, decisions, how much of our lives are we truly living and how much of life is passing us by unnoticed?
Who create our lives if the three-year-old in us makes the decisions? Who is in the driver’s seat if the subconscious is allowed to rule? What situations determine our response to what is happening in our life right now?
Isn’t it valuable to examine what and who controls our actions and to be able to make active, adult decisions in accordance with what is happening in our lives at any given moment?
If you are interested in regaining control over your actions and decisions instead of reacting blindly, try the exercise below for a period of time that you decide for yourself. A day, a week, … as long as it feels rewarding for you.
Exercise 1 in self-observation
Sit down comfortably on a chair or armchair.
Close your eyes!
Take three deep breaths. Feel your face. Relax your face and note the sensation in your muscles.
Feel your neck and arms. Note the feeling. Note the difference in feeling before and after relaxation. Relax your fingers. Feel your fingers one by one and relax them. What is the feeling in your hands and fingers now?
Continue scanning your body parts one by one and observe the sensation. The chest, abdomen, back, genitals, thighs, legs, feet and toes.
Now you are relaxed throughout your body.
Imagine that you are looking at yourself from the outside. That you take three steps away from your body. Looking back at yourself where you are sitting relaxed.
Notice your thoughts.
Note your feelings.
How does your body feel? How do you look like where you sit? Do you look relaxedyou’re your back straight? How are your thoughts going?
Imagine walking around the room you are in. How does the room feel? What temperature is it? Imagine observing walls and ceilings, floors and windows. Become aware of what is in the room. Where in the room are you sitting? Are there more than you in the room? Maybe other people? Perhaps a beloved pet? How do they feel? Feel their energy with the part of you that observes it all.
You can now finish the exercise. Take your time and sit back and reflect on what you experienced. Feel free to write down your experiences and any insights.
You have performed a conscious self-observation. It is not more complicated than that.
It’s about awareness in the present, mindfulness.
It is about registering what is going on in oneself and in one’s environment in a conscious way.
The purpose and result of the exercise
You develop your ability to be in the moment and get time and get used to registering and feeling your feelings and thoughts through this exercise.
After a while you will be able to perceive connections between your feelings and thoughts. You notice which thoughts create which feelings. Eventually, you will be able to connect these thoughts and feelings to past decisions. You also get used to the conscious part of yourself and feel the sensation of awareness in the present moment. In other words, you can tell when the conscious part of your psyche is on.
The result can be astonishing. It was for me. You feel more alive when the conscious part of the psyche is engaged. You gain control and can begin to control your emotions. You can stop your thoughts when they are running amok and get the chance to follow and control them.
Since self-observation is a meditative act, you will also experience both the mental and physical benefits of meditation practice. I will write more about the proven and beneficial effects of meditation and I will suggest several self-observation and meditation exercises.
Please share your experiences and thought with me and others about this exercise.