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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few times in my life, I have made halfhearted attempts to meditate. It doesn't work. I just cant sit still long enough. All my head does is think about "when can i go now"

A few months ago, prompted by a friend of mine, I have stumbled upon the Fourth Way, originated by Gurdjieff, a method of self improvement that seems far better suited for me. I will not get into the ins and outs and backgrounds of this method here as it would be off topic and perhaps even off-putting for secular oriented readers, but I can talk about the practical application in my daily life.

Instead of taking time out to sit and meditate, life itself becomes my teacher. I attempt to achieve self awareness as I go about my daily life.

To be self aware is to take a step back. Instead of living life, you look at yourself while living life. As often and as deeply as you can, you observe yourself.

What can one observe? Well, the mind does three things we can look at.

1. It functions and moves and does stuff. This is the moving function
2. It displays emotions and judges between good and bad. That is the heart function.
3. It produces assorted intellectual gibberish aka 'logic'. That is the mind function.

It is in fact a lot more complicated than the simple picture outlined above, but I hope I have not over simplified too much. I think any practitioner can work with this.

Throughout your everyday life you can teach yourself to observe all these three systems in action. You can observe tension, stance, movement, mood, logical purity of thought.

For instance:

I found the body to be the easiest 'anchor' to help me focus. For the body you can:

- regularly check all the tensions in your muscles.
- check your breathing. While you are at it, try to do more belly breathing and try to breathe less shallow
- You can do a moving body scan switching attention between all the various parts of the body.
- You can review the way you walk and start to walk 'mindfully'
- You can chose an activity, any activity, and analyse it in slow motion. I used to be very loud and noisy with everything and self awareness has allowed me to be much more careful.
- You can do a complete body and mind freeze where for a short moment you stop all movement and thought and take a mental picture of the whole you. This works much better when you are doing it in the middle of an activity, so not merely standing or sitting.
- You can pick up a sensation like a song on the radio or the rain on your skin, or a beautiful sunset and deliberately focus on it.
- You can do stationary or dynamic balancing exercises that require total concentration

As for the heart, you can try and listen to your feelings. Are you happy, are you sad? Are you angry? Are you anxious? if you are any of these, can you find the deeper reason why this is so?
Listening to the heart is a powerful tool for emotional control. I have learned to refrain from expressing negative thoughts so other people around me no longer get infected with negativity. It also helps to preclude automatic negative thought patterns from running their course.

The brain is the most difficult function to be adequately aware of. Right now I am working on exploring the concept of truth and how it effects my thoughts and use of language.

After I had read some of the written material(there's thousands upons thousands of pages about Fourth Way) I decided it was time to test it out for real.

The first area where I succeeded an achieving something real was in my car, in traffic.
Over the past 15 or so years I had been gradually building up a tremendous amount or road rage and road stress. I would never act it out in any way outside my car, but inside my car I have cursed often enough to write an alternative dictionary.
Everyone and everything became the much hated enemy. Bumperstickers, slowcoaches, cops, traffic lights(which were, of course, maliciously programmed to go red in front of my nose), road works. All of it annoyed me and set me off.

So I set out to 'catch my thoughts' And the first time I succeeded in doing that it was quite remarkable. I could actually "see" the impulsive anger as it was coming up, and merely the act of observing it made it vanish in an instant.
I have had my worse days, but this alone has cut my road stress by about 90%.

Since then I have extended the practice to as many aspects of daily life I could find.
It has made it much easier to get through a working day at the office because self observation has allowed me to identify all the little signs of stress onset. Especially the body keeps building up so much stress and tension that I was previously not even aware of.

Another major change is that its done miracles for my prejudices. Of course, before I started this I had no idea I actually had any prejudices and no, I wasn't judgemental either. Others were judgemental, not me.

I found out soon enough that self awareness is a beast. It absolutely does not pull punches. It showed me myself without mercy.
And of course I had tons of prejudices and I was very judgemental. I would go around all day judging neurotypical people(I am neurodiverse myself), difficult clients, politicians, uninformed journalists, bankers and religious leaders. You name it, I judged it.

Self awareness has helped me recognise those instances and in so doing take a step back and re evaluate what I was doing.

The process of self discovery is quite ruthless. The bottom line in the 4th way practice I am following is that no matter what nasty thoughts I might have it is always my fault. This approach, while at first seeming quite odd, is sensible.
I can not change anyone else. I can not shape the world to my liking and it will keep doing what it does. Even my own body and mind, with all their frailties and deficiencies, will keep screwing up my life. I can not change any of that, I can only attempt to change my own valuation of everything that is happening.

What I did find is that its important to link the practice of self awareness with a thorough understanding of a great number of physical, psychological and even linguistic details.
Once I got to the more difficult and complex personal 'vices' it has become very important to be able to identify what they are and where they might be hiding. Often enough, a vice can hide itself quite well or it can even masquerade as a virtue. And what's more, most of the time I don't even know what the heck I am doing.

Work in progress! This, once embarked upon, is a life long endeavour to be pursued 24/7. For a person on this way, the way becomes life and life becomes a school.
 

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This sounds like what I understand Karma yoga to be, The idea being you become conscious of every situation in day to day life in order to "awaken" or choose how to receive it, the choice is ultimately all that matters and all that is in your control.

I can relate a lot to what you said, if I pay attention to my thoughts a lot of them are snap judgements, furthermore a lot of them are snap judgments born out of defensiveness, defensive of something on my part that I sometimes in fact usually am not entirely conscious of.

I'm definitely going to read more into this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
For everyone the chosen method will be different. The reason I am following this particular path is that it is linked with my chosen form of spiritual practice. Self awareness is an essential part of pretty much every esoteric direction.

The second reason is my ADD. It makes sitting meditation extremely hard on me even though I do try to incorporate that as well in my practices.

And yes @claude , aspects of Karma Yoga can be found in here. In fact, Ouspensky, Gurdjieffs most famous follower, incorporated Karma Yoga.

In Fourth Way practice, life is more or less reversed. Normally we would live life and add a touch of meditation here and there, but in Fourth Way (aka the Work) the practice takes precedence over life itself so that one lives life from the Work, instead of Working from life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Recently, I lost my very best friend through suicide. The shock and the ensuing dramas of various kinds put my newfound stability to the test. I found it makes it much easier to deal with, and to stay calm through everything that has been going on so far.

It is producing a strange kind of duality in me. On the one hand I was still the one experiencing all that has been happening, on the other hand, as much as the situation allowed, self observation gave me a sense of detachment which feels quite odd. I have not only been living through the events, but have at the same time to an extent also been observing my reactions to it.
 

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Recently, I lost my very best friend through suicide. The shock and the ensuing dramas of various kinds put my newfound stability to the test. I found it makes it much easier to deal with, and to stay calm through everything that has been going on so far.

It is producing a strange kind of duality in me. On the one hand I was still the one experiencing all that has been happening, on the other hand, as much as the situation allowed, self observation gave me a sense of detachment which feels quite odd. I have not only been living through the events, but have at the same time to an extent also been observing my reactions to it.
I'm sorry for your loss... I can't imagine what it would mean to lose someone that close to you. I hope you move through this a stronger person and your friend lives on either in the memories of those who loved him/her or maybe we can hope for something more..idk either way..
 
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