This post will provide an overview of two introspection techniques that I have found to be very effective. They appear to be very different because one is much more structured, but they lead to the same place – freedom from the ego mind. The first is called ‘The Work’ which was developed by Byron Katie and is acclaimed worldwide. This is the structured approach and has trained facilitators in many countries.
When I came to Australia in 2014, my partner introduced me to ‘The Work’. I immediately saw that it had great value for my commitment to free myself from my key life issues. I literally did more than 100 worksheets, and then when I was reading from one of her books (‘I Need Your Love – Is It True?’), somewhat miraculously, had a break through on a childhood abuse issue. Instantly, my understanding and relationship with my mother changed from blame and anger to compassion and love. This turn around was the result of my persistence openness to obtaining release. My commitment was to doing ‘The Work’, without attachment to the what and when of change.
The basic element for doing this technique is called the ‘Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet. It consists of 6 steps where you honestly express your frustration with a person in a specific situation (it can also be used on yourself with slight adjustment). For each one of these steps you ask 4 questions and then do turn-arounds. The questions are:
1. Is it true? Yes or no
2. Can you absolutely know that is is true? Yes or no
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4. Who or what would you be without the thought?
For each question, you are asked to briefly meditate and allow the answer to come. This in itself is a very useful practice for it allows guidance from the inner self, not the ego mind. Consistent use of this technique will cause significant improvement in peace and happiness.
The website for this technique is: https://thework.com/. It also includes books and workshops that can help to make this more effective. There are numerous videos on YouTube in which Byron Katie demonstrates the technique. They provide powerful demonstrations of the freedom that can be gained by practicing this technique.
The second technique is the use of Adlerian philosophy as a framework for introspection on the choices and challenges of life. Alfred Adler was a contemporary of Freud but is not nearly as famous, partly because he didn’t publish his philosophy, but also because his theories disagreed dramatically from Freud's.
Adler’s foundation was Teleology. Teleology is the philosophy that ascribes that purpose leads to effect. It is the study of purpose. While Freud’s foundation was Aetiology. Aetiology is the philosophy which ascribes that cause (past experience) leads to effect. It is the study of causation.
Basically, what this means is that Adler proposed that we have the power to direct our life, while Freud proposed that the past was the dominant deterministic factor directing our life.
Here is a list of some of the key Adlerian precepts:
· People can change - we choose our ‘lifestyle’ (world view).
· The past is not deterministic of present/future – teleology, not aetiology. Meaning of the past is decided in the now.
· Trauma doesn’t exist, it is our interpretation of events that is the problem.
· All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.
· Separation of tasks - only focus on your tasks.
· Three life tasks: work, friends, love.
· People are your comrades, not enemies and the world is friendly.
· When an interpersonal relationship becomes abusive/cruel, it has become a power struggle of seeking to dominate. This must always be resisted forit leads only to war, seeking revenge, and more feelings of insecurity.
· Anger is a tool used to get others to submit to you in a power struggle.
· Indignation related to societal issues fuels purpose for change and goes beyond one’s own interests.
· When Adler refers to community, he goes beyond the household, school, workplace and local society, and treats it as all-inclusive, covering not only nations and all of humanity, but the entire axis of time from the past to the future—and he includes plants and animals, and even inanimate objects.
I find Adlerian philosophy in alignment with deep spiritual teachings such as A Course In Miracles and Yoga. Our Inner Self is our power that can transcend any of our experiences.
Two book that is helpful in understanding and applying Adlerian precepts are: ‘The Courage To Be Disliked’ and 'The Courage To Be Happy' both by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga.
There are, of course, several other valid introspection techniques. You should find and use the one that works best for you.
Books referenced: 'The Courage To Be Disliked' and 'The Courage To Be Happy', both by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga; 'Loving What Is' by Byron Katie