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The Art of Observation and Awareness

This lesson is a part of an audio course Seeking Authenticity by Stephen Paul King

“It is the experience of observing that is important, and not just the act of observation, it is logical to assume that scientists, in turn, will see themselves less and less as observers and more and more as experiencers.” —Michael Talbot

The act of self-observation allows the observer to become separated from the Self long enough to note things from a neutral perspective, thus providing a platform from which it can be determined if what one is thinking, doing, considering, or feeling is appropriate, workable, and responsive rather than reactive – whether or not it is based on old patterns of belief or just judgmental or even based on bigotry or bias.

The ideal can be when one is actually observing oneself observing. This detachment can provide information, leading to consciousness, awareness, updating – becoming present – being in the now. Bearing in mind that now is truly the moment of power – we are then able to be healthy decision-makers, which translates to having potential for shift and change, based on present-time wisdom, knowledge and experience, and maybe “inner wellness committee” input!

Self-awareness is vital for authenticity, purpose, and direction. It can assist a person in recognizing the ambivalence with which they may struggle – in terms of drinking for instance – as per the saying, “Alcohol gave me wings to fly then it took away the sky”.

Using this type of example – alcohol, as we all know doesn’t care whether you live or die and for an alcoholic or drug abuser, the drink and/or drugs are doing the driving and they don’t care if they drive you off a cliff!

Addiction is a form of slavery, the forfeiting of personal freedom. We can become a substance slave or a process slave (gambling, shopping, etc.). Booze and drugs can become like being in a bad relationship, bondage, a “hobby” that has gone totally awry. Booze betrays the boozer and the original benefits of boozing. In other words, booze hurts those the most that love it the most.

Let’s just look, observe or become aware for a moment at its contradictions too – it gives and takes in forms of lust, luster, and lucre. It can make you feel like you can conquer all but also has the ability to shut off potential.

It is the “social lubricant” – It provides the illusion of a warm glow of meaning and is used for both solace and celebration. It is a diversion, an adaptation – a desire to mood-alter. It is a tranquilizer, an anesthetic, for many types of legitimate pain and for those having a low tolerance for frustration. We can notice the difference between being “pickled” vs. being ‘in a pickle’. Substances are often used as some form of the surrogate and, as the great author James Baldwin remarked, “It is both an affliction and a crutch.”, and as comedian Robin Williams said, “Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.”

Guilt, blame, and shame are all products of the meaning we placed on childhood events. With guilt, we feel a need to hurt or punish Self – “I made a mistake”. With shame, it is a form of soul murder or death – non-self-acceptance – “I am a mistake”. Attachment to these beliefs is the root of suffering, as is aversion – they create stuckness.

Regret is the great healer, guilt is the great wounder.

The irony becomes that you might have ended up using something that, in the end, controls you – to get away from your out-of-control life!

Our desires and efforts to control pain, fear, and fear of more pain become our coping strategies, but they end up blocking our feelings.

Shame and guilt keep you alone in isolation. Don’t give energy to the “fantasy” of your shame – don’t remain alone with it. It keeps you separate from love, care, healing, liberation, and recovery.

By stepping beyond the meaning we gave to our past, we then are able to liberate ourselves to live and be in the present.

The pain of paradox and separation can be healed with compassion and by today’s choices, including the lenses with which we view the historic events and the Self.

Mindfulness allows for choices, decisions, action, consistency, openness, and therefore cooperation instead of always competition (between the inner contradictory mind and behavior, as well as with others)

Placebo vs. Nocebo – they are opposing dynamics but both can teach us that the mind can change the character of health.

One recent report commented that likely one-third of all healings are via the mind, i.e. placebo-based. It is believed that up to 70% of our thoughts are negative or redundant. If this is indeed the case, then it is clear that the subconscious mind is running the show.

The placebo reaction is a confirmation of the expectation that people have the capacity to heal. Norman Cousins (Anatomy of an Illness) cured himself of the medically incurable ankylosing spondylitis. He stated that the placebo is an “emissary between the will to live and the body.”

It is present-day observation and awareness that can provide us with updates as to whether or not our previous perceptions, interpretations, beliefs, and thereby operating system is relevant in today’s world – maybe we need a re-boot! Fresh evidence and time can shift perceptions – but we need to be open to that concept and be willing to challenge the adversaries in our heads – need to let them go. We need to continue to free our world by constantly cleaning and clearing so that it doesn’t become an army.

The acronym STRESSED stands for Staying Tense Relentlessly Every Single Second Every Day. If the opposite is being CALM, then that could stand for Controlling A Leprechaun Mind – a bit like learning to surf the waves of life’s uncertainties.

The structure is the antidote to chaos and so we need to focus on what we can do – reminding ourselves that we are “worthy and deserving of zero limits and the full palace of possibilities.”

It would be worth your while to read Dr. Gabor Mate’s book When the Body Says No regarding the price we pay for overwhelm and stress – the sheer cost to our health, our families, and our future.

Depression may be just an attempt to avoid feeling emotions that we deem to be unacceptable, such as anger, or too difficult for us to deal with. So we just put a lid on our feelings. And the effort to keep a lid on our emotions takes a lot of energy, so much in fact, that we feel depressed from the effort. (Note: This is true for those depressions that center around specific life experiences, like the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, etc. But this is not true of those depressions caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.)

Don’t forget that the brain is looking for something to confirm our beliefs and therefore we will often behave in ways that confirm our beliefs! The subconscious is a more powerful processor than the conscious mind. It (The subconscious) is a tape player and it gets stuck in a loop, which means that the programming is the source of the problem! The solution to this is that somehow we need to be able to press the “Record” button, to allow for incoming new information and updating, as opposed to just leaving it on “Play”.

What is the role of genetics? Remember I previously mentioned that the gene is a blueprint – it is a pattern, not an action – it is read or not read. The mind reads the blueprint – it is about how it gets expressed. The gene is not the limiting factor – the mind is!

“Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” —Stephen Covey

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Written by

Stephen Paul King

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