ACHIEVING SUFFICIENT AWARENESS
AND IS IT, BY ITSELF, CURATIVE?
The results in your life (called "effects") are representative of whether you have solved your problems (called "causes"). According to the Law Of Cause And Effect, you can look at the effects (results) in one's life and be sure of the nature of the causes. There is always a cause of each effect, and they can be traced either direction on the causal chain.
All change begins with awareness. If you're not aware of something, of course you will not do anything about it.
IS AWARENESS SUFFICIENT AND CURATIVE BY ITSELF?
But is awareness sufficient and curative by itself?
But sometimes it will do the trick.
Mostly, though, one has to initiate some process to effect the change desired.
BUT WHAT ABOUT MEDITATION, CAN'T IT DO THE JOB?
No, not usually, though it is helpful.
There is a part of learning that is related to meditate that is absolutely vital for a person's thinking if one is to be more effective in his awareness.
And that is "seeing the reality" of a thought, as a necessary prerequisite to dealing with a thought.
A collection of related bits of data that is held in the neurons of the brain; the usage in the West generally is one of it being "conscious", where one is aware of it. of which one is conscious.
A thought is real only to the extent that it is occurring as an electrochemical event in the brain.
A thought is not a fact, nor is it a "thing" (like a chair), as it has no permanence. It is something that is "thought up", what is called a mental construct, one that exists only in the brain. It may or may not mirror reality.
The brain "screens" what comes through it for signs of a threat. The more enlightened one is the more he/she will bifurcate the thoughts into a "true" (reflects reality) and a "made-up" (not true) category.
As a reflection of that understanding, he/she will, in meditation and in life, label thoughts as "thoughts" - "there is a thought", "I have the thought that..." - but they will not consider it a reality. As a consequence, even though one may react initially to a fear thought, one can choose to simply let go of a thought as being only a thought and a "made-up threat" as only a mental construct - having no importance in the real physical world.
A "car coming" is a "real" threat, so you'd react to that, but you'd not react to, or believe, "I'm no good" or "what will people think of me" and other things that are strictly made-up. In Landmark Education, these might be called "stories", where there is a story about something that is real, but the story is not. The participants are encouraged to understand that stories are only something they made-up in their minds so they are not to be considered reality (or, as I look at it, as in the movie The Beautiful Mind, we would be insane to believe that something we made up is true and to give it any import!). In Buddhism, these are called "mental constructs", of which some are the sole source of suffering. Consequently, one must master the art of identifying mental constructs and not letting them be considered real if one wants to stop all suffering.
If one does what I call "passive meditation", where one is passively observing the thoughts going through, one will be aware of thoughts. But it seems to reason that if one does "active meditation" where one asks questions, one will elicit more relevant information and focus on what really matters.
WHAT ABOUT JUST TALKING IT OUT, AWARENESS AS CURATIVE
Just as with meditation, awareness is increased, but if there is no proactivity and discipline to tie down and carry things through to completion, then you will not accomplish nearly enough. Being aware of problems and pieces here and there in the detail is not sufficient. Do you see the reasoning?
"I'll just talk it out and I'll get some insights." Famous last words of someone who only gets so far but then stops before finishing, so life doesn't improve, even though the person is full of insights. But insights are often mistaken for wisdom, but you can tell the difference, as the first has lots of insights but not so great results and the latter has great results in life. (Duh!)
1. I am aware of a bad feeling. (Called "the sign" in psychology. "Oh, I see you, bad feeling!")
2. I look for the thought behind the feeling. I know it is a sign that there is either a real threat or an illusionary threat (a mental construct). I decide which.
If it is a real threat, I react. It will be instant if it is instinctual (jump out of the way of a car).
If it is more complicated and not to happen instantly, one would think it out using standard problem solving.
Illusionary (mind construct)
If it is illusionary, one can dismiss the thought or "stop" the thought, usually also substituting some other thought into the space (or simply noticing one's breath and breathing deeply, as one can do if one practices The Pause. Illusionary threats or anything that causes a bad feeling not related to reality are results of erroneous thinking - so naturally what you would do would be to correct the error in the data and/or the reasoning.
3. If we choose to go on toward correcting the thinking, then we may have to go deeper and stay with the thoughts that are associated with the bad feeling, so we can "investigate". [If we are aware enough to know it is no threat, at least in our higher brain, then it is easier to investigate.]
Obviously, to see something one must confront it directly and look for the details (staying long enough to see all of them) and not run away in fear or protect against the thought (as in, for instance, denying it or suppressing it).
One must acknowledge it; and it is best if this is in writing or communicated out loud. It becomes more concrete and definite.
So, in psychology, one is encouraged to "stay with your feelings" and to "observe them". This process is not something that can be done in an irrational state, one that is driven by fear, as the body automatically shuts down the periphery unnecessary parts that are not needed for flight or flight - it doesn't need the higher brain.
If one stays in the feeling, hopefully one can be conscious enough to remember what occurred afterward during the observation and analysis parts. Sometimes it may be necessary to pound pillows or whatever to get "in touch" with one's feelings - but actually one is getting in touch with the whole 'recording', which not only includes the emotions but also the thoughts that caused the emotions in the first place or are at least associated with the incident. (It could be that a traumatic event happened and at the same time a red truck was involved, so both the event and the red truck will be associated with and therefore elicit the emotion - until this is corrected. Remember, the lower brains are pretty stupid and literal.)
4. Then the observation part begins (or, if not, nothing is likely to correct itself, nor will there be a new star in the east...).
The "situation" is defined as clearly as possible. The feeling is labeled "anger", if there is a resultant holding in the body (a reaction to steel oneself to protect against a blow) then that is described: "I feel tension in my neck, my stomach is clenched, I feel ill to the stomach (that is actually a metaphor, not a feeling, as the feeling is "queasy" or something of that nature), my jaw feels tight..." What I am thinking or was thinking was "I am threatened because I think this person is thinking badly of me." (That is a projection of what the person is thinking of you, but it is an observable fact that you were thinking that thought.)
5. You then do proactive problem definition. What cue did you see that you interpreted to indicate that the person was thinking badly of you? What was the thought that happened right before you had that feeling?
You may have to go into some thinking that you aren't aware of or the thinking that went into the original creation of the "recording" and the belief in it. Some "bits of data" might not even be in thought form, so you may have to be even more proactive and attempt to convert that into words, so that your higher brain can deal with it (it has to have language of some sort, as opposed to the lower brains being non-cognitive or non-languaged). The missing thought or the thought to be surmised is usually something around "surviving", from stuff built into us from earlier evolution - you evolved because of these thoughts and behaviors believed to get you survival - at least in those days. I need to dominate or avoid domination. I need to feel status so that I am worthy of surviving. I need to prove myself. I need to be approved of or I'll die (without a tribe, mom's love, etc.). You sometimes will need to use "impressions" that pop up, like intuition, to formulate what could be the thought behind the thought behind the thought.
Once you have accurately set down the observation of what happened and then discovered the thoughts/beliefs that caused or were associated with the feeling, then you can address the pieces and create the corrections.
Obviously, if you did not go through the whole process you would have awareness that was limited and not complete - which is not a good idea for problem solving, as we need to fully understand the causes of any effect in order to cure the cause and not get stuck in the less fruitful process of dealing with the symptom - that latter process solves the problem for the moment, but the cause will likely keep on cropping up. That is the basis for the gloomy, but true, saying "What you do not complete, you are doomed to repeat".
Since it is results that are signs of the causes, we can surmise: People who do not complete have bunches and bunches of unsolved causes - and they wonder why their lives aren't getting better. (Duh! I use that term not as a judgment of the person, but as an indication of how simple and obvious a truth is.)
6. Process it, completely, to solution. One goes into one or more of these (it's easier just to start with a form and use that for the process from the beginnng):
2. The belief changing process, using one of the Belief Processing Forms that is suitable, with the highest level, more complete form, being The ABCDEF Rational Analysis Super-Form, going to the detailed explanation of each section so you have more of an idea how to use it and/or so you can get ideas and possibilities of alternatives and approaches (from there you can step down to simpler versions, but the danger is that in avoiding doing the greater amount of work you may be less complete and less curative).
CHOOSE WHICH OF THESE THREE TO USE
So, you can reach enlightenment (or almost reach it) in:
1. 35 years - Just meditate and come close to enlightenment.
2. 5 years - Meditate with detailed guidance and counseling with the Master monk for 5 years to enlightenment (so you know what the healthy thoughts are and can insert them - and also so you can spot the erroneous thinking because you know what the healthy thoughts should be) (See Why Buddhist Monks Are So Happy.)
3. 3 years - Use some sort of focusing training, use systematic problem solving and belief changing, with guidance from a Master and get to enlightenment in 3 years, plus be much more life-effective with an even richer life. (You've got to "do the work", be proactive, follow the coaching, listen, originate, be diligent...)
(If you read the section on Authentic Learning, you'll see that I think it is dramatically, geometrically, more effective to use systematic, planned learning, using only top quality experts.)
The "maybe" get-theres are things like somatic therapy, where the thoughts are stimulated from "where they are held" in the body and somehow that will be curative - look at the studies that prove this is effective or not and don't believe the anecdotes, for they are not proof. The mind and the body are completely connected, part of the same whole, but the intelligence and memory capability drops superdramatically after the brain. The cells in the body do not really have the ability to think or remember anything that is a thought. They could group together and "contract" as if there is a threat, but when released I'm not sure how they could send a signal back to the brain that 'all is well' in regard to a particular belief - however, any loosening up of the body does send a safety signal back to the alarm system in the brain, which is good, but not likely to be sufficient.
"Tapping" (EFT) could work, as it has, per studies, in treating PTSD, where there is an attempt to send noise through the recording (neuronal pathway where the emotion is generated) but there is also a very good system of inserting new beliefs, plus a few quasi-mantras (which is what I call them). I would start with this from a man I consider to be practical, with high standards, in his book: Jack Canfield, The Tapping Solution. I would not suggest that somebody avoid this because I think that it could get results just through the excellent affirmations/mantra process it uses.
FOR PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THERE MUST BE SOMETHING BETTER...
Some people get stuck in the belief that there must be something, often a "mysterious force" of some sort, that would get the results. This is a common human trait, designed to fill n the gaps where things are not fully explained - it is just not smart to believe all of the made-up gap-fillers, though some might be accurate - and then if the latter is true, people will selectively remember that "evidence" and believe it is as if it were the truth. If one believes one is so good at mind reading or filling in the unexplained in some way, one should "get over it" by reading The Believing Brain, by Michael Shermer. Or, if you don't want to do that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you or even better a magic magnetic bracelet that will have you feeling incredible energy and power (and that is only $150, small compared to the price of the bridge).
OR YOU COULD JUST GO WITH SOMETHING MUNDANE THAT MOSTLY WORKS
Your choice. Sufficient proof exists... (But some people might have fun always disputing your coach or advisor...)