"Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

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Nebula
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"Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by Nebula » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:42 pm

I have been attempting to observe my thoughts and actions.

I have been grappling with a problem however. Observing my thoughts and actions seems to entail being self-critical.

For example, I may find myself being taken over by the pain-body e.g. I may find myself criticising someone who has hurt me, to another person, so as to make the other person see how horrible they have been(to "me"). Whilst doing this, I feel many things.... compulsion to do this, self criticism (I know this is the pain body and i'll regret my words), some kind of relief and even a kind of enjoyment, etc.

I know i'm doing this because I want to make myself out to be better than that person, and I want people to like me, and not that person.

But I also know this is all ludicrous, I shouldn't think about it/talk about it etc.

So, what happens is this:
I observe myself think the above, I know what i'm about to say is unwise, but I say it anyway!

That's just one example, but if you generalise this example to many or most the interactions I have, and imagine that I often say or think things I consider to be unwise, whilst knowing them to be unwise, you will see why I consider this to be a method of self criticism.

It seems hard to break the seemingly inevitable chain of thoughts/events.

Also, on the same vein, I find that watching the thinker is basically being hyper self-conscious. It's as though I have a person saying "Don't say that......You know why you did that and it wasn't for the right reasons......you feel threatened so you're gonna say that aren't you.......now look what you've done"

Any ideas on how to transform the hyper self-critical watcher to an impartial and non-judgmental one will be gratefully received!
"If it is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence"

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by erict » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:55 pm

Your post was hard to understand. I would just like to point out that the "watcher" is not "hyper self-critical"; that's just more thoughts about thoughts. You have a thought, and then you have a critical thought about the previous thought, it's just more thinking... There's a part of you, which does not judge, neither criticizes, nor approves of anything. Try to find it.
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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by Nebula » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:19 pm

I understand that the watcher is not supposed to be self-critical, but I have mistaken the watcher for this aspect of myself.
I suppose I haven't "found" the watcher, but have been hoodwinked into believing the watcher is self criticism.
How do I then, locate the watcher.....or rather how do I watch without a commentary?
"If it is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence"

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by erict » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:40 pm

I'm not a big expert on this subject, but here's what I think.

I believe that the whole point of observing, is allowing whatever arises, whether it is criticism of another person, or it is criticism of your criticism of another person. Try to observe everything that happens, including your emotional reactions, when you notice yourself being judgmental and you get irritated/upset or whatever negative emotional response that arises. Keep observing the mechanics of your mind and how they affect your body, the emotions they evoke, and perhaps with time, you will also begin to notice a certain distancing between the workings of your mind and emotional body and that which perceives them.

I don't think that the goal here is to eliminate the negative thoughts or to change them to positive ones. Rather, it is to notice how mechanical and conditioned it all is, and become less and less affected by it all. For me, I don't feel any radical changes. And I still get totally sucked in most of the time. But more and more I am able to see thoughts as thoughts, and not mistake them for reality. A thought would arise and I would recognize it as a valid perspective, but then I would see that another thought, totally opposite the first one, is also a totally valid perspective.

I'm not sure this is helping, but I hope it might.
"Be sincere; don't ask questions out of mere interest. Ask dangerous questions—the ones whose answers could change your life."

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by Nebula » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:59 pm

Erict: I believe that the whole point of observing, is allowing whatever arises, whether it is criticism of another person, or it is criticism of your criticism of another person.
That's quite useful actually, as I end up judging my criticism of another person.

There's criticising a person.
And there's criticising myself for criticising a person.
I need to observe both.

This seems to be like a riddle.

I will meditate on it for a while. Thanks.
"If it is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence"

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by James » Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:31 pm

Nebula,
I believe I know what you are going through, I call it B.M.S. or Busy Mind Syndrome. It happens to us folks that tend to be intellectual. We think the answer to thinking is more thinking. That is our conditioning. What has worked for me rather than being an editor or monitor of my minds content, is to reconnect with the inner body. Follow the various suggestions Tolle gives for keeping your awareness grounded in the energy field of the body or Presence, feeling, breathing, etc. practice it first alone in Stillness, and in the Now of course. And then as Erict says:
allowing whatever arises, whether it is criticism of another person, or it is criticism of your criticism of another person. Try to observe everything that happens, including your emotional reactions,

Ramana put it like this: "Let what comes, come; what goes, go, and see what remains." To me It basically means just let it all hang out in a very relaxed way. This can be your daily meditation practice.

So once you have moved your sense of this awareness into Presence, through the inner body. Then these things arise more naturally, within Presence rather than in a small space you perceive as your head or mind, you can observe or be aware while still being grounded or anchored. If you practice this it gets easier and easier, and becomes quite natural. Perhaps you will remember feeling this way as a child or young adult, before your mind was on overload? The difference is though as a child we were not that conscious. Now as an adult we can have a greater appreciation for those childlike states, a conscious appreciation, and the experience becomes more profound and beautiful.

After a while you won't be so acutely focused on what is happening, you will just be the field in which things happen and are experienced effortlessly. You might regress at some points when under mental pressure, but that is OK, return again to your grounded state as soon as you are able. Take frequent short breaks to reconnect.

Does this make sense? Give it a try and see if it works for you too.

Also Andy mentioned in another post about using exercise as a gateway. Go for a walk or swim or whatever you enjoy and feel the inner body energy field as you do so. Any type of stretching, yoga, body work (such as massage) can also help.

Now I am going to follow my own advice and go for a walk while the sun still shines.

Enjoy
James
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by innerhike » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:04 am

The whole idea of meditation to me is the act of forgiving one's self and all of this world and going into this place, sinking into this place where we are not struggling.

Okay, so I made a mistake. Someone else made a mistake.

Let it be. Let it all be.

It is that simple.

You are not trying to correct yourself. You are simply trying to forgive, let go, just be, with all of your beauty and imperfections, perceived or real.

I have on many an occasion invited the things that terrify me, the things that bother me, into my meditation. I find that when I invite all of my stupidity (perceived or real), it all dissolves, it does not stick or stay.

I think that James is on to something in his post above. In that the idea of letting go does not work if it remains in the head. You have to experience LOVE/PEACE/HAPPINESS/WELLNESS in your gut and allow this to guide you. This is another technique to come into the Now. In the Now all is well. You can approach it from any angle that works for you.

But don't make it work. Go for Joy! Whatever brings you to this place of being in a child-like state.

And be patient. Just be willing to be with everything that is arising. If your suffering is X, then your patience simply has to be X + 1. If your internal dialogue or drama goes on for 1 hour, then your sitting/being with this all of this needs to be 1 hour + 1 minute. The last minute is where the shift happens. It could come in five minutes or five second or five hours, we don't know. All we can do is just be.

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by kiki » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:50 am

Wonderful responses, one and all.
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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by Sighclone » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:16 am

So, what happens is this:
I observe myself think the above, I know what i'm about to say is unwise, but I say it anyway!
Actually no. You watch the Pain-body "say it anyway." That's fine, but slowly you will allow Presence to be closer to your pain-body impulse and pretty soon, Presence will be a more normal state and will intercept the pain-body's impulse before a single word is spoken. Eckhart talked about this process as part of gradual awakening recently on Oprah's webinar - I think it was week 6. All of ET's simple practices are helpful, relaxing and joy-filled. Because they invoke Being...in Stillness.

The 'self-criticism' is actually a method of the ego refining itself - using itself as the necessary 'opposition.' So any energy poured into 'self-criticism' strengthens the general ego. Or maybe enables the ego to replace one "false self-image" story with another. Let 'em all be. Accept it all when you see it happening, and what is 'natural' ("....saying it anyway") may be replaced by something that is from the real natural place, the Source. And that action might be walking away...or smiling in silence...who knows? And don't 'force' it or 'expect' it to change tomorrow, and be self-critical if it doesn't...the density of the ego and painbody varies widely...

Namaste, Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce

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Re: "Watching the thinker" /The Joy Body

Post by James » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:12 pm

Hello again Nebula
A few more thoughts. Are you a very creative person? The energy in your thinking might suggest that. Perhaps it needs to be in alignment with your higher self, to find an outlet. Thought watching techniques work for some people, so you can take what you like about it and leave the rest. As I said, It does not work too well for me.

Some of us may need other pointers and methods to get us off and running, like training wheels on a bike. You may also find your own method that suits you best, or mix and match. I have always preferred free form over techniques, but I do use some, as needed. Know that the best methods eventually lead to the end of all methods. When you find you are merely the expression of being, and living it, you can lay down the methods. You can always pick them up again if you need to.

A woman at a Tolle retreat stood up and said her pain body, through non resistance, had turned into a "joy body", Eckhart nodded affirmatively. That is another way of looking at it. Any beliefs you have such as self criticism will appear in the body in some form, aka the pain body. But through non resistance, acceptance and peace, she eventually returned to a natural state which she called the "joy body".

Look closely at persistent thought patterns, and the feelings they evoke. Once you have become more still through feeling the inner body, and the mind is quieter; see if you can localize the thought/belief in the body. "The mind lies, but the body does not know how to lie" it just reflects what we believe. Once it is felt in the body as pain or other sensations, you can begin to explore the quality of these feelings in an open honest way. In addition to the other suggestions already given, you could use inquiry to understand these roadblocks, and accept and make peace with them. Find out what you are not, and you will know what you are. Once such inquiry is "how do I feel when I believe that?" Byron Katie is best known for that inquiry process, "Loving What Is". Tolle recommends her work, as do others on this forum.

When it gets too serious, do something fun! There is presence there also. In actuality there is no place you can go that there is not presence. But it is up to us to accept it, to experience it. Presence is being, not doing. But you can experience presence while doing. Presence is effortlessness. You will see that eventually.

Regards
James
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by nick » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:25 am

An important piece to 'watching' is finding space from the chattering thoughts. This can be very challenging; and for me, meditation has helped to make the process simpler. Not sure if all of that makes sense; I just know that there is a fine line between over analyzinf and just being in the moment.

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by nick » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:31 am

James-
I like what you say and how you say it. It seems you have bee at this awhile or it's simply your truth or maybe both?

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by James » Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:47 pm

Hi Nick
Welcome

You said:
I like what you say and how you say it. It seems you have bee at this awhile or it's simply your truth or maybe both?
You said you prefer simplicity and It actually is quite simple and can happen this instant, if we allow it. If you are simply able to experience the moment that is great. Most of us have a lot of conditioning and resistance to experiencing Presence, the methods just loosen the resistance, if we could surrender fully in the moment it would not require any time at all or methods. One such resistance is the idea that it will take time to get there, an ego trap. The reverse ego trap is to say I got it once a while back, now I am done, I know it all. I am enlightened because I saw the light one moment several years ago; and then the person goes into a semi conscious or asleep state. Do you get my drift? But If someone is content living in the moment, and it brings them harmony, that may be all they require for now.

But for most of us there are degrees of experience of Presence, not all or nothing. I'll throw one more method out there in addition to the others I gave to Nebula, and anyone interested can pick or choose what appeals to them or none of them; anyone can find their own access point. Nick indicates that he likes meditation so here is another type.

This is a brief contemplative meditation, anyone can make their own, you may want to construct one with some favorite passages from Eckhart's books. If you like you could read this slowly and go into the stillness periodically. A contemplation is different than an affirmation because you are not trying to make something happen, it is merely a pointer to an experience. It is the experience of stillness that you are interested in here, not so much the words or thoughts.

So we start with this moment, we may need reminders or methods... Even those that are new can experience a degree of Presence immediately, once they let go of concepts and resistance towards it... Sit with your eyes closed or open it is up to you... Feel your body and the alive energy in it... Rest in it.... Notice your breathing and how the air fills you and relaxes you... Allow yourself to experience the stillness... The important thing to know about stillness is that it is always there, even when the mind is not still, there is stillness... And this stillness is what you are... Rest in the ever present stillness... Soon it begins to sustain itself, and envelop you, and that is the beauty of it; because you will recognize that it is not you doing anything.... it is you getting out of the way, and allowing the stillness to happen... Some simply refer to this mystery as Grace.... Grace happens, as sure as the sun rises every morning.... How and why the sun rises is a mystery, but it does.... Explaining it won't change the fact that it does rise.... Equally your life is a mystery, it is the stillness within your being... rest in the stillness... Allow and accept Grace to happen... "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin." ... Life is simplicity... Rest in the stillness...



James
"Awareness is already present, already here, already now; before you try to be more.... In that recognition there's no effort, there's just acknowledgment"..."Awareness is not something you can understand, it's something you are."

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by astaroth » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:09 pm

Hi nebula!

First, I must admit that I didn't read all the posts written in this thread. But your first post sounds very similar to what I have experienced, too, after having studied Tolle's book.

I hope I can give you some useful advice.

Find out what you are at the very source instead of trying so hard to observe thoughts for some goal of "spiritual progess". There isn't such a thing. You won't make any progess, no one does. :lol: Spirituality isn't an improvement of what you take to be "your life". It is an awakening.

So, here is my advice: Don't observe your thoughts and feelings. Why? Because you already do! Aren't you aware of them? Nothing is required to be aware. Can you avoid being aware of what happens? Isn't awareness the constant factor, the changeless background and yet the source af any experience?

I invite you to ask the big question: What is aware of anything - world, thoughts, the me... what is it? There is no observer. There is only the "fact that you are aware". You could call it also the light in which everything appears, the light of consciousness.
This light can't know itself, only in negative terms it can. But isn't that absolutely amazing? There is awareness, which is the very source of all that. There is the world. In the world there is a body. Inside the body's head there is "nebula". But you are aware of all that! Are you the percieved? Or the perciever?

Does the light judge on what it shines? Does the light critize? How could it? What a funny idea. Could a screen judge the movie that's playing? The word "observer" easily brings one to the idea that there is "something" which can observe. There isn't!

You, as the light that you are, are absolutely free. Awareness is free. The light is not disturbed by whatever it shines on. The light is absolutely impersonal. The world takes place in it. "You" happen in it.

If this body, reading these lines thinks: "I am nebula" - where is something like an ego? The "concept of ego" is absolutely misleading bacause it leads to the consclusion that there is something like that. There are thoughts, there is a body. But no ego. It is a thought in a body but you are neither the body nor the thought - because you! are aware of them, you are the limitless perciever. You are what gives life to the body. The ego is a belief, which can be questioned.

Without awareness would there be a world? Aren't you aware of the waking state as you are aware of your dreams? What is the transcendent dreamer?

Wake up, detach from yourself and smile on this body's efforts to "observe it's feelings" :lol:

all the best,
astaroth
...you might remember me from such educational films as "Zen for couch-potatoes - The wisdom of never doing anything" or "Buddha from da hood - Was he a brother?"

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Re: "Watching the thinker" leads to self criticism

Post by Nebula » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:51 am

James wrote: So once you have moved your sense of this awareness into Presence, through the inner body. Then these things arise more naturally, within Presence rather than in a small space you perceive as your head or mind, you can observe or be aware while still being grounded or anchored. If you practice this it gets easier and easier, and becomes quite natural. Perhaps you will remember feeling this way as a child or young adult, before your mind was on overload? The difference is though as a child we were not that conscious. Now as an adult we can have a greater appreciation for those childlike states, a conscious appreciation, and the experience becomes more profound and beautiful.

After a while you won't be so acutely focused on what is happening, you will just be the field in which things happen and are experienced effortlessly. You might regress at some points when under mental pressure, but that is OK, return again to your grounded state as soon as you are able. Take frequent short breaks to reconnect.

Does this make sense? Give it a try and see if it works for you too.

Also Andy mentioned in another post about using exercise as a gateway. Go for a walk or swim or whatever you enjoy and feel the inner body energy field as you do so. Any type of stretching, yoga, body work (such as massage) can also help.

Now I am going to follow my own advice and go for a walk while the sun still shines.

Enjoy
James
Hi James, Actually I can remember spending time in my garden as a child, and being fascinated by nature, and looking around in a state of presence. Moving my awareness into presence through the inner body is quite difficult for me, but i have increased my exercise levels, and this can help.
Also you mentioned creativity, and that does also tend to help becoming more present. Thought watching feels to me like becoming more self-conscious (which i suppose it is ??), but the difference I seem to experience, is that the self-consciousness feels negative.
It's not what some of you describe, eg, watching the thinker dispassionately and not judging, mine is more watching the thinker and judging/criticising what is thought/said.
Thanks for all your responses by the way.
"If it is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that determines the future, then what is it that determines the quality of your consciousness? Your degree of presence"

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