Self-Observation and Self-Control for Inner Peace

Inner Peace

Just as the lotus flower needs the mud to blossom, you have to become sometimes fully aware of your negative thinking before you can consciously change it and shine even brighter than ever before…

“The mind has long been dissipated by worldly things and does not easily come under sway, Arjuna. But when one perfectly controls and withdraws the mind from selfish cravings, one is in yoga, union with Divinity. The mind of the yogi is totally focused on the True Self, is unwavering like the steady flame of a candle in a sheltered place.” – The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley, Krishna to Arjuna, chapter 6, verse 18-19

What Krishna tells Arjuna is so beautiful and yet so difficult to achieve for many. It takes awareness and practice. In order to get to this peaceful place you have to control each single thought that you think. Each thought has a profound impact on how you feel and on what your actions will be. Most of the time people think automatically, without paying attention to their thoughts. The practices of self-observation and self-control are two core practices in yoga.

Self-Observation

Sathya Sai Baba, a spiritual teacher from India says, that self-observation is one of the most important spiritual practices. If you want to be full of joy and in peace, this practice is of fundamental importance. Sathya Sai Baba gave many people who visited Him watches as a reminder to watch themselves.

“Each student has a watch on his wrist. And, you look at the watch at least a hundred times a day. Well, learn from the watch a great lesson. When you watch the watch, remember the five letters of the word, WATCH; each is giving you a fine lesson for life:

  • W tells you to watch your words
  • A warns you to watch your actions
  • T indicates to watch your thoughts
  • C advises watch your character
  • H declares watch your heart

When you are consulting your watch, imbibe this lesson that the watch is imparting.” – Sathya Sai Baba (S.S.S. Vol.X, chapter 9)

Self-Control

By watching your thoughts as a witness and then changing your thoughts deliberately you have one of the main keys to happiness and ease in your life. You can change any negative thought and perspective into a positive thought and perspective. This self-control takes practice, but once you start this process consciously it will become easier with time. Then happiness is an inner state of consciousness for you and not dependent on the outer world.

As a master of yourself you want to choose the thoughts that you think, be a master of your emotions and deeds, question your motives and infuse your being and actions with unconditional love. Utilizing self-control, you choose your thoughts carefully. This is the first step to everything else. Your thoughts produce your emotions and lead to actions, which are colored by your motivation and love. If you choose your thoughts consciously, it is so much easier to gain inner peace and to act in a meaningful way.

This scene from the book “Initiation” by Elisabeth Haich illustrates this self-mastery beautifully:

“Through my long exercises in self observation and self control, and through my long efforts to master the twelve sets of twin characteristics I have learned not to transmit my joy into my body; so instead of throwing my arms about Ptahhotep’s neck [her teacher], I radiate all my love and joy through nerve centres that carry my consciousness—especially through my eyes.”

How can you become aware of your thoughts and change them deliberately?

Your mind consists of three parts: (a) The subconscious (the lower mind), your (b) conscious mind (the middle mind) and your (c) superconscious mind (your high mind). Each one of these parts is producing thoughts and you can apply different techniques to listen or control each one of them. You can achieve the most effective changes in your thinking when you include all these three levels of your consciousness. I will not go in depth into these different techniques here. I just want to introduce you to one technique, that you apply with your conscious mind . It will have an effect on your subconscious if practiced for three weeks. You can ask your high mind for support in changing your thinking pattern and receive guidance from it during meditation. It takes 21 days in a row to change a subconscious pattern.

The negative, disturbing thoughts spring from a part of your ego, called the negative ego. The ego governs your functioning in the world. That part of the ego, which controls your body functions and fulfills other useful tasks that you couldn’t guide consciously (e.g. would you know how to instruct your liver in useful way?) is called the functional ego. All thoughts that negate the Source, Love or Oneness1 can be summarized as the negative ego, or dysfunctional ego. All thoughts that see through the lens of Love are called in the following table “Christ Consciousness” as the Course in Miracles would name it2.

The table from Dr. Joshua David Stone”s book “Integrated Ascension” shows negative ego-thoughts and with which thoughts you can replace them. Mr. Stone recommends to make a list of your negative ego thinking patterns and work consciously for 21 days on replacing it with the new approach. How you do it is up to you. You could concentrate on one pattern and become aware for it for 21 days in a row and then work with affirmations and/or journaling. You can include your observations into your meditation and ask your high self to help you to overcome the old patterns and replace them with the new one.

Concluding this article, I love Krishna’s advice to Arjuna to focus on your True Self all the time. The True Self produces thoughts of the Christ Consciousness. I find this list extremely useful to become aware of subconscious patterns and the influence of the negative ego. I hope, that this list is beneficial for you, gives you insights and some ideas of how to establish new, positive thinking patterns in your daily life.

Negative Ego Duality or… Christ Consciousness Attitude
Attack/Fear or… Unconditional Love
Anger/Depression or… Bubble of Protection, Preferences, Looking at things as lessons, never giving up
Win/Lose or… Win-Win
Rejecter/Rejected or… Not meant to be, Not GOD’s Will, I’m o.k., you’re o.k.
False Pride/Low Self-esteem or… Self-confidence, Unconditional Selflove and Self-worth
Manipulator/Victim or… Own personal power through Love and Nonattachment
Attachment/Non-attachment or… Preference attitudes
Self-righteous/Self-doubt or… Knowingness while still allowing others to have beliefs
Needing no one/Loneliness or… Ability to be alone but still interrelate with others
Aggressive/Passive or… Assertive
Worry/Uncaring or… Concern
Too Self-centered /Too other-directed or… Proper Selfish-Selfless balance
Sociopathic tendencies/Guilt-ridden or… Properly balanced conscience and Self-forgiveness
Pollyannaish/Pessimistic or… Optimistic
Manic High/Manic Low or… Evenmindedness, Equanimity, Unceasing Joy
Arrogant/Insecure or… Self-confident tempered with Unconditional Love
Holding a grudge/Being a doormat or… Forgiveness
Overindulgence/Underindulgence or… The Middle Path, Moderation in all things
Fears of failure/Fear of success or… Pursuit of excellence, Mistakes are o.k.
Judgmental/Embarrassent or… Non-judgmentalness
Impatient/Too laissez faire or… Patient
Blame/Shame or… Self-responsibility, Bubble of protection
Hate/Possessive conditional love or… Unconditional Love & Forgiveness
Too controlling/Out of control or… Self-control, Not controlling over Others
Betrayer/Betrayed or… Utterly secure within self & not attached to Situation
Abandoner/Abandoned or… Complete, full, whole within self & bonding in relationship from that place
Jealousy/Open relationships or… Commitment without co-dependence
Too independent/Dependent or… Independent, interdependent and group consciousness
Sadistic/Masochistic or… Doesn’t believe in giving or experiencing suffering
Overly responsible/Irresponsible or… Responsible
Too closed/Too open or… Proper boundaries
Mean/Hurt or… Invulnerable, Bubble of protection, Cause own reality
Too selfish/Too selfless or… Selfish/Selfless balance
Overly confident/Insecure or… Quiet confidence
Attack/Defense or… Defenselessness, Harmlessness
Accepts no feedback/Approval seeking or… Seeks feedback from appropriate people
Too Impulsive/Indecisive or… Appropriately decisive
Dictator/Herd consciousness or… Uses & owns personal power in loving manner only
Insensitive/Overly sensitive or… Sensitive, Divine detachment
Workaholic/Hedonist or… Work-Play balance
Obsessive-Compulsive/Disorderly or… Organized without being overly perfectionistic
Driven/Lazy or… Hard worker within reason
The Pusher/Procrastinator or… Strives for completion without being obsessive
Immobilized/Reactive or… Respond
False sense of security/Vulnerable or… Faith, Invulnerability, Confidence, yet practical & realistic
Too affectatious/Too repressed or… Integrated and balanced expression
Emotionless/Moodiness or… Mastery of emotions in service of Oversoul and Monad, Joy
Overly giving/Overly taking or… Giving/Receiving balance
Intimidate/Too shy or… Own power in a Christed manner
Too future focused/Too past focused or… Live in the “now:’ with appropriate past/future thinking only
Overly deserving/Undeserving or… Deserving because GOD created us
Greed consciousness/Poverty consciousness or… Prosperity consciousness
Too serious/Too lighthearted or… Serious-Lighthearted balance
Fault-finder/Undiscerning or… Love-finder, Spiritually discerning
Rebel/Conformist or… “Above all else, to shine own self be true.”
Overly organized/Disorganized or… Organized
Felix Unger (Obsessively clean)/Oscar Madison (Slob) or… Clean, but not neurotically clean
Overly jubilant/Sad or… Evenminded, Unceasing joy from positive thinking
Can’t admit mistakes/Everything is my fault or… Admit mistakes when they happen
Too trusting/Too distrustful or… Trusting with spiritual discernment
Too focused/Too scattered or… Ability to see through full prism & single lens as moment requires
Too brazen/Too cautious or… Assertive with spiritual discernment
Too critical inner parent/Too permissive inner parent or… Firm and loving parent
Too goal-oriented/Too process-oriented or… Goal & Process balance
Too loquacious/Too silent or… Appropriate talking-silence balance
Too rigid/Too flexible or… Firm-Flexible balance
Too disciplined/Out of control or… Discipline-Flowing balance
Too structured/Too flowing or… Structure-Fluidity balance
Too willful/Too allowing or… Willful-Allowing balance
Too impersonal/Too personal or… Impersonal-Personal balance
Good Luck/Bad Luck or… No such thing as “Luck,” cause own reality, past life karma
Too vertical (spiritually inward)/Too horizontal (relationship focus) or… Vertical -Horizontal balance
Too expansive/Tao contracted or… Appropriate Expansion-Contraction balance
Uptight/Too laid back or… Own personal power & surrender to GOD simultaneously
Too tough/Too coddling or… Strong, but respectful of laws of nature
Sins of commission/Sins of Omission or… Responding appropriately as GOD would have it be

Table “Christ Consciousness” from the book “Integrated Ascension” by Dr. Joshua David Stone

  1. Source of this definition: http://www.iamuniversity.org
  2. You can read more about the negative ego in detail in Dr. David Joshua’s book series “The Ascencion Series: The Easy to Read Spiritual Encyclopedia”, which I highly recommend. The same book series is printed in German by the Lippert-Verlag in Switzerland.
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Sandra Veronika Gross is an advanced yoga teacher and a Rose Program Certified Counselor for nutrition and detoxification. She helps people with a busy schedule to engage in a healthy life style in their own pace to be full of joy, follow their intuition and experience inner peace.