Let's take a typical situation where we dislike something. Say, we're invited to a friend’s home and there we feel we have not been treated properly. One, then, feels dislike and resentment rising within as pressure or force.
What one is unaware of and does not see at that moment is that one's Being is totally under the control of that inner dislike or resentment. That is, we're under a very negative influence. This can lead to violence and hardening of a totally negative attitude.
To begin to look inside, at our psychology, is to be able to see and discriminate each moment what influence we are under. If we were to keep noting every hour, we would see that we spend a great deal of time under negative influences.
Irritation, anger, excitement, self-love, dislike, wrong and negative talking, a feeling of how good and noble one is - all these feelings are influences and when we are under a negative influence, we can only sow negative seeds in life. These negative seeds can only invite events which bring us pain and suffering.
The beginning of self-observation is to look within, to see the state we are in. We start making an effort to shift from a negative state to a more positive one.
At any moment of time, we are under some influence or the other. The student of spirituality learns to distinguish between higher and lower influences. He realizes that at any moment he is always under some influence and he learns the art of moving from a lower influence to a higher one. Over a period of time, he realizes which influences lead him deeper into the identification of life or, in other words, which influences increase his reactive tendency i.e. reacting mechanically to life every moment. He also learns which influences lead him to a higher state of consciousness and he frees himself from this deeply embedded pattern or sanskar, to react to every moment of life.
The starting point is when the student starts to look within. That is, he is in a state of self-observation. He notices that a negative build-up of force is happening within him which is on the verge of leading him into a negative state of reaction, either in anger, irritation, jealousy etc. That is, he is on the verge of being overpowered by a negative influence leading to a burst of a mechanical reaction. At this point, he immediately puts himself under a higher influence.
This can be done in two ways. The first is by consciously relaxing the muscles. Relaxation is an Art and the practice of tensing and relaxing the muscles is one of the best practices we can do. The moment the muscles relax, the intensity of the negative state decreases dramatically. For an outburst to happen, there must be a build up of tension in the muscles.
The next is right thinking i.e. we bring in our intellectual center. We try to understand that when one feels pain because one was treated badly, it was only the ego, the false, that felt pain. The Real is always free of pain and our search is from the false to the Real.
Next, if someone has treated me in such a way, he must be holding on to some knot, some wound which is hypnotizing him into this negative state. And then, instead of having a reaction to the way he treated me, I feel a build-up of compassion about his state, how he is holding an open wound, how it is poisoning his psychological state and making him react to me in this negative mechanical way. That is, one shifts from being under the influence of resentment and anger to a higher and conscious influence of compassion. One has risen on the ladder of consciousness and taken one more step towards a higher destiny in life.
Another aspect of this is we gain force. Whenever we’re in a negative state, we feel a rush of inner force. If someone tells us that so-and-so person was talking about us, we feel a rush of force. If we see that someone has something better than us, we feel jealous. That jealousy is a surge of force. When someone insults us, even if we have been sitting tired and without energy, we feel a sudden rush of force. Most negative states give us force free of charge. We waste this force in inner chattering, an outburst on that person or worrying.
The minute we shift from a lower influence to a higher one, not only do we rise in consciousness but are able to save the force which the negative state was instrumental in bringing.