How do you become conscious of your Self - that is, your true or spiritual self, rather than just your inner speech and the voices in your head replayed from the past? Direct conscious effort is necessary. You become more conscious just by asking yourself, "What thoughts am I conscious of right now?" Also, "What feelings am I creating right now?" These expose that our actions, and the emotions that drive them, actually relate to self-talk - largely compulsive thinking, often just below the level of consciousness - the talk and belief system of the particular identity we are adopting.

Just asking these questions will make you temporarily conscious, but probably you will not be able to keep it going, your mind will become absorbed in something else and you will forget yourself. You must realize during your self-observation that you are present - you are here, in the present moment. As you persist in self-remembering, your moments of consciousness as Self will become increasingly longer and you will forget your Self increasingly less.

What do you observe? Begin by watching your actions, reactions, responses and behavior. Be like 'another person' looking at your human mind in operation. At first this will be very difficult to do but as you practice, it will become progressively easier and eventually stable.

Continue by observing your posture, listening to your speech, observing how much you talk, listening to the tone of your voice, i.e. the 'way' you say something. Observe how you automatically assume certain attitudes with some people, and different attitudes with others, i.e. how you (normally) unconsciously switch identities and play different roles with different people. Watch all of your emotions; observe your mind wandering aimlessly in pure fantasy. Observe how certain words by certain people trigger reactions in you that you (normally) cannot control. Watch your defense mechanisms, your justifications, your rationalizations, your pet superstitions, your favorite criticisms, and so forth. You are now starting to become conscious of your unconsciousness, and thereby bringing it into consciousness.

Normally, people erroneously assume that they are constantly one and the same person. However, as you begin to observe yourself, you find this is not true. You assume many different 'I's and each 'I' manifests itself as a role that you play corresponding to one set of conditions, i.e. you assume different roles with different people and in different circumstances. One role with your parents, another with your children, a loved one, at the corner store, at the theater, in sports, under stress, when threatened, when praised, when jilted, and so on. You seldom, if ever, notice these differences or how you pass from one role to another. Circumstances, rather than you self-determinedly choosing an appropriate way of being, always control the change of roles or 'personality masks.'

Note: It is the unconsciousness or compulsion that we are trying to expose. Freely adopting appropriate ways of being, for example, to match the reality of the people you are with or the game you are playing, is a necessary social skill and all part of the fun and variety of life.

The illusion of 'oneness' or belief that you are always the same is created by always having the sensation of one physical body, the same name, the same physical habits and so forth; and also by the illusion that each identity is right. After all, you are always 'right,' aren't you? And the same rightness - your safe solution to the circumstances you are in - gives the illusion of the same identity.

By self-observation, you will catch yourself lying. Lying occurs when you pretend to know something when in actuality you do not. People pretend to possess all kinds of knowledge: about themselves, about God, about life and death, about the universe, about evolution, about politics, about sex, about everything. In fact, people do not even know who or what they are. Even when he or she has no choice and is controlled in life like 'a candle in the wind,' a person will lie to himself that he is self-willed, knows himself and is in control of his destiny. You imagine these things to please yourself, and shortly after you begin to believe them.

Some people take pride in their irritability, anger or worry. Books, movies, TV and popular songs glorify negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, boredom, disgust, irritation, hatred, jealousy, suspicion, self-pity, sympathy, depression, etc. Indeed, the consciousness of many people is dominated by the expression of negative emotions. But negative emotions are purely mechanical - done without awareness or consciousness - and serve no useful purpose whatsoever, even when they appear to be a rational response to circumstances. However, it is hard to be angry or fearful when you are conscious, as then you naturally assume your true state of being, which is loving, without judgmental conditions.

Negative emotions and all habits require 'identification' or they cease to exist. Thus when you cease to identify, by self-remembering, your habits will drop away - they have been exposed. You have differentiated yourself from them. Habits cannot be stopped by willpower; they can only be erased by self-knowledge.

Religious doctrines like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are therefore quite impossible for the normal human being to follow. Mechanical habits will always cause people to violate codes of law and moral rules. Only self-knowledge can direct you to living the 'right life' and you will not need written rules, codes or commandments, you will function intuitively and spontaneously, naturally from Love. This is true freedom without license.

It is impossible to do anything to you - the actual you - at any time; it is always your beliefs and decisions that affect you. Thus only you suffer from holding grudges, hatred, resentment or revengefulness. No one has ever affected you but your own thoughts. No-one has caused you to be frightened, angry, hurt or happy but your own mind, because if you didn't identify in your own mind with what was said or done to you, you would not have been affected in the least. This is one of the most difficult facets of existence to perceive, but once perceived, its worth becomes priceless. Understanding this is the way to ultimate freedom.

Go back over today events and relive as many experiences as you can remember. Take each memory separately and see that it was your own thinking that caused you to feel hurt, happy, angry and so forth. Keep re-feeling the experience until you free everyone in the scene of responsibility for affecting you. Then reverse the process, and be sure that you yourself do not assume responsibility for another's feelings because in like manner, it was their identification in their mind with what you said or did that affected them and not you.

The Gnosis or knowledge you release (for you always knew it) will not immediately make you more comfortable or secure. In fact, it is painful at times, because you will be aware of your false identities, your facades, your defense mechanisms, your silliness, your viciousness, and your primitive self, perhaps for the first time. But persist for you are recovering a genuine identity that no one can take away from you. Your security and comfort will gradually be found in your change from a pseudo-self to a permanent harmonious Self that is objective and unlimited in scope.

Author's Bio: 

This article was extracted from the book, 'Daring to be Yourself' by Peter Shepherd, the Expert for (Transformational psychology). Peter runs the personal development website Tools for Transformation, which offers many no-cost resources for transformation of body, mind and spirit - including the popular weekly ezine 'Metamorphosis,' online personal coaching and forum, and a wide selection of ebooks and courses.