Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

When we think about our lives, it is clear that we do the same things every day. We get ready in the morning. We eat a meal. Perhaps we go shopping. With such repetition, it’s no time at all before everything about our lives becomes routine.

Where’s the renewal in any repeated action performed unconsciously? Where’s the fun in just eating again? Sure, it may be pleasurable, but with self-study we can do something more than just trying to please ourselves over and over again in the same old way. We can set an aim to watch ourselves during every seemingly familiar act and see what delightful new adventures our watchfulness brings us to.

Self-study adds a whole new dimension to our daily experience. Remembering to observe ourselves as often as we can, we are then open to discovering one new world after another — both within ourselves and in the world going on around us. Even the most superficial encounter with others places us in a potential gold mine if we can remember to stay awake and watchful of ourselves and friends.

For example, today we can make an exercise to stay awake during our social gatherings just to see if any one topic of conversation is ever completed. Of course, very few ever are, because each of the participants unconsciously redirects the conversation, drawing upon something occurring within his or her own immediate world. In coming awake to this peculiar psychological phenomenon, we don’t try to change other people’s behavior, or even to point out the endless pointlessness in such meandering talk. We do learn however, how it is that we continually find ourselves off track. And once this trick of our lower nature is made clear, so is the secret of how we can keep ourselves on a single, more successful life course.

It’s easy to find especially fruitful areas in which to work at self-study. For one case in point, we all take part in certain activities every day more likely to lull us into a state of psychic sleep. Maybe it’s talking on the phone with a friend or watching TV. Once we’ve identified these behaviors, we can make an extra effort to shake ourselves awake and fight against being pulled under. For best success, find out for yourself those times and conditions where you’re most likely to fall asleep to yourself. For example, while watching TV or a movie, make an aim to notice how much your emotional strings are pulled by the kind of music that’s underscoring the scene. You might even turn the show off altogether for a few minutes, right in the middle of a moving moment, just to see how that makes you feel! Here’s the point: find those places where you most tend to fall asleep, and work there!

When we shake ourselves awake in this way, by consciously stepping outside of any given event, what we’re given to see is that all we’ve really done is step outside of the stream of our own thoughts. This mental or emotional stream is the only force that ever carries us away! Gratefully, we discover that the more we practice freeing ourselves in this way, the freer we become. What a great day it is when instead of seeing every event in the way the intimate enemy wants us to see it, we begin to use those same events to escape its small world. Little by little it dawns on us that everything about this life is an opportunity for self-study! Now we have something new to do every moment. Even taking a walk is no longer just a walk; it’s a journey of self-discovery.

Whatever we do, we can consciously create new ways to watch ourselves and with each attempt become more aware of the restrictive self-created world in which we habitually mentally dwell. When we see that world as it really is, we no longer want to stand within the stream of its painful thoughts and memories. We want to be more constant residents of the larger world of reality, and be what Truth wants us to be. And so our attention is always focused on sighting those shooting stars of self-revelation that guide us further forward toward that new life we know we are meant to experience.

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