The self-explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes the explorer of everything else. He learns to see himself, but suddenly, provided he was honest, all the rest appears, and it is as rich as he was, and, as a final crowning, richer . - Elias Canetti

Surprisingly, self-observation is not taught in most traditions. The reason for this may be that it involves quite a lot of mental work, which often requires trained professionals. The techniques discussed here can be used at home and help you decode many of your actions and behaviors. In the event that you are unable to begin to understand the reasons for your behavior, professional help will likely be required to walk this path.

Two sets of self-observation are discussed here. The first set is that used in the Fourth Way school, observing when your actions are of an intellectual nature, emotional, instinctive or you are moving. The second set of observations are ones we have developed; observing when we are operating out of ego, fear or love. There are certainly other planes of observation we could use to understand our behaviors.

No matter which set of observations you choose to do, it is best to write down during the day each time you catch yourself acting out of a function. By writing down each observation you are, first of all, lingering on it and processing that action further than you normally would. Secondly, you can then go back over the observations at the end of the day, the end of the week, or in a small group. This helps you observe the behavior from a more detached vantage point.

It is important not to get too wrapped up in these observations so that you try to absolutely categorize them into a specific group, but what is important is to remember the reason you are doing this – to decode the reasons for your actions. As long as you are beginning to do that you are on the right path.

Intellect, Emotion, Instinctive, Moving

Intellect – Intellectual activities are those which are processed rationally in the brain, such as thinking through a particular problem or trying to determine the best order in which to do your errands.
Emotion – We act emotionally when we are sad, joyous, angry or frustrated. Emotions come from our gut or our heart and are not processed intellectually.
Instinctive – Instinctive activities are ones that just happen – burping, farting, pulling your hand back when it gets burnt.
Moving – The moving function is used when you are controlling your body for specific physical purposes such as digging, walking, eating, etc.

Ego, Fear, Love

Ego – Ego is our self that is developed over time through the experiences we accumulate in our lives. This is our protective bubble we use to keep others from seeing inside to our “real” self and to keep us from getting hurt emotionally.
Fear – We all have been hurt in many ways through the years. As these hurts accumulate we begin to accumulate a respective set of fears. The fears paralyze us and cause us to control all external forces on us.
Love – When we are able to lose our fear and drop our ego, our protective shell, we can embrace true love. While harboring our fears and clinging to our ego we may experience love, but not to the depth that we can when we are able to shed this baggage.

Joel DiGirolamo, All material copyright PranaPower, LLC