Where were you a year ago, on the eve of 2016?

Were you alone? Were you partying? Were you watching a firecracker spectacle from your kitchen balcony? Wherever you were, 365 days have gone by and the earth has completed a cycle around the sun. The celebratory nature of this annual milestone (or the lack thereof for those of us who spend it alone) creates memory, so that we can readily envision where exactly we were a year ago and gauge the duration of time that has elapsed. From our humble micro-cosmic viewpoint, we gain a glimpse into the grand cycle of a larger cosmos.

In 2017, the Be Community will superimpose its teaching onto this cycle. We will follow the progression of nature month by month, the way medieval artists followed farming activities and documented their monthly labors. After all, the symbolic consequence of man’s losing Paradise was labor, a labor that would change throughout the year with each change of season. “Because thou hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee not to eat,” says God to Adam, “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life...” So while the twelve labors of the month are historical documentations of rural activities in medieval times, they can just as well be seen as the symbolic consequence of losing Paradise and the efforts required to regain it (for more about this connection, read What is Paradise?).

In the Chartres cathedral depiction of the Labors of the Month, January is a three-faced deity that ushers in the new year by opening a gate (see featured image atop this post). One face looks back at the previous year, another looks forward to the coming year, and a third looks out at us. This middle face, looking at the present moment, is our starting point. “Today is what it is because yesterday was what it was,” said George Gurdjieff; “If you want tomorrow to be different, you must make today different.”

Where am I today? My ability to remember myself is neither more nor less than the cumulative efforts I invested in self-remembering in the past year. If I intentionally labored to minimize unnecessary talk, then today I am better able to remember myself while speaking. If I intentionally labored to curb haste, then today I am better able to remember myself while moving. And while I will still have to work on maintaining these gains through 2017, standing my ground will be easier than conquering it. The face that looks back at the past year perceives this. It enables the face that looks forward to deduce that whatever I hope to gain in the forthcoming year will come at a similar price. The middle face concludes that if I want the forthcoming year to be any different than the previous one, I must formulate an aim today.

This is our labor for January. Standing at the threshold of 2017 with a 365-day vista in both directions, where do you wish to head in the forthcoming year? Which habits prevented you from self-remembering during 2016? Does any single habit stand out as an overdue area of work? “Aim must be clearly formulated, understood, and remembered,” said Peter Ouspensky. “ Only then is it possible to come to results.” Do not hurry with this formulation. Make sure it is rooted in self-observation, and that your aim originates from something you’ve actually seen about yourself in a moment of self-consciousness. The aim you choose will be adjusted monthly, as the community progresses from one labor to the next.

Share your aim in the comment section below. (For those that have undertaken a research project around the Labors of the Month, this is also where to post your findings on the month of January)

Responses

  1. Asaf Braverman Post author

    To regularly clean my house from petty negative emotions. The expression of big negative emotions is obvious, but petty judgements and irritations are subtle. I’ve observed that I permit them to linger, like dust under the couch. And like dust, they accumulate rapidly…

    1. Hicham B.

      This is an interesting aim Asaf and it reminds me of the negativity in my parent’s house. As a matter of fact, the first thing I hear when I open my eyes in morning is negativity. My parents are eternal complaining persons: about everything! I find it hard to not being dragged down by their negative emotions. One can easily read anger in my father’s face and fear my mother’s. These emotions have crystallized in them. Mind, heard and even body!

  2. Jill M.

    For over a month now I have been trying an exercise, and it has been evolving towards more difficulty, and very helpful.

    It started out with, before my sit in the morning, my choosing a time later in the day to have a moment of remembering myself (any or all of: being aware of the sensation of my body, trying to stop thoughts, dividing attention).

    Far too often I did not remember the appointment; sometimes I did not even remember what time I had chosen. So I increased the frequency to once an hour – to take a minute to come to presence as possible, with the exact time to be determined when I first looked at a clock in the morning. So if it was 7:07 a.m, then at 8:07, 9:07, and so forth.

    Then I realized I could not remember whether or not I had remembered the previous hour, so I began keeping a list – writing down the time after I remembered to take the minute, which were not always exact but sometimes a few (or many) minutes late.

    Then I ramped it up to every 30 minutes. So 7:07 a.m., 7:37 a.m., 8:07 a.m., etc.

    Then one morning I had a nice even number: 6:20 a.m. So to make it more difficult, instead of adding 30 minutes I decided to add 25 minutes. 6:20 a.m., 6:45 a.m., 7:05 a.m., yikes!

    But now I am back to every 30 minutes, and to make it more difficult, I am trying to not only take a minute to ‘be’, but then after that, to try to remember what happened in the previous 30 minutes. Or if I am involved in something to where I cannot take that minute to try to remember the events of the previous 30 minutes, to wait until the next appointment and try to remember what occurred since my last attempt to remember what happened.

    This has been very helpful. I am not sure if it would be useful to describe just how it has been helpful, or leave you to try this if you like and come up with your own independent results.

    Best wishes to all for the New Year!

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Jill. Exercises such as this are a powerful verification of our lack of unity. “A man decides to get up early beginning from the following day,” said George Gurdjieff. “One I, or a group of I’s, decide this. But getting up is the business of another I who entirely disagrees with the decision and may even know absolutely nothing about it.”

      If you can find a pattern in your forgetfulness, then an aim could be tailored around that pattern. We all suffer from lack of unity, but each of us has different groups of ‘I’s that take dominate our multiplicity. Can you photograph a consistent group of ‘I’s that prevents you from remembering your exercise?

  3. John

    My aim for 2017 is to continue acting, on stage, on screen, and doing voice. For this to dream extravagantly, study continuously, promote positively, market relentlessly, audition routinely, learn my lines completely, rehearse rigorously, and perform spontaneously

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      John, this is a good aim in that although it is external, it is definite and measurable. Are you already doing this, or is it something you aspire toward doing? And if so, have you photographed what keeps you back? Inner considering? Laziness? It would be useful to add an internal aspect to this aim so as to harness it to inner work.

  4. Hannah K

    I have been asked to find musical works that depict the seasons. These were the pieces that I found.
    THE FOUR SEASONS by VIVALDI
    This is a collection of 4 concertos for violin and strings. Each concerto depicts one of the four seasons. There are 3 movements in each concerto so it could be that each movement portrays one of the months of that season. If that is so, and we take December as the first month of winter in the northern hemisphere, then January would be represented by the second movement of the winter concerto, the Largo. Each season’s concerto was accompanied by a sonnet, with specific lines inspiring each movement. The lines for this movement are:

    “To rest contentedly beside the hearth, while those outside are drenched by pouring rain.”
    Here is a link to a recording of this movement on Youtube:
    https://youtu.be/Cp52PCIk_1k

    THE SEASONS by HAYDEN
    This is an oratorio for voices and orchestra. Winter is the last section. The instrumental introduction depicts beautifully the thick fogs that occur at the approach of winter (we’ve had lots of fog where I live in England over the last weeks!). The text goes on to describe a traveller struggling through the snow. Eventually he comes to a cottage where some peasants are gathered round the fire to talk and tell stories. As they talk they mend baskets and fishing nets and the women spin. There is a chorus of female voices where they sing about their spinning, accompanied by music that depicts the whirring of their spinning wheels (section 38).
    Here is link to a recording of the whole of Winter on YouTube with the lyrics in English and German accompanying it so that you can follow the story.
    https://youtu.be/AYxLBhxynWg

    THE SEASONS by TCHAIKOVSKY
    This is a collection of piano pieces, each one portraying a month of the year. The piece for January is subtitled “By the fireside” so Tchaikovsky, like Vivaldi, thought January was a time for sitting snug beside the fire.
    Here is a YouTube link:
    https://youtu.be/IF5gRYgPd3A

    Of course, these pieces were written by composers who lived in the Northern hemisphere. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere you are in the middle of summer so pieces depicting sitting by the fireside are obviously not appropriate! You would perhaps better relate to the second movement of Vivaldi’s Summer concerto subtitled “His the shepherd boy’s) limbs are now awakened from their repose by fear of lightning’s flash and thunder’s roar, as gnats and flies buzz furiously around”,
    YouTube link https://youtu.be/9EbJchwSouA
    Or…
    Tchaikovsky’s “July” (Song of the Reaper),
    https://youtu.be/3KCcvw8SC8w

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Thanks for this research Hannah. (Let’s focus on the seasons in the northern hemisphere without listing their parallels in the southern hemisphere. Since we are dealing with a cycle, the discrepancy doesn’t matter from the point of view of inner work. As long as a person goes through each month, regardless of where they live, they will experience the entire spectrum of work)

      It is helpful that Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky included “the fireside” in the titles or descriptions of their pieces, so we know that they had the imagery of the Labors of the Month in mind when composing them.

      The other thing I learn from this musical research is the need to relate the months to the seasons. What you suggest seems right: Winter is December, January, and February. Even though the winter solstice is at the end of December, around the 21st, March does associate with the beginning of Spring, and September with the beginning of Fall. Let’s keep this in mind, however, as we might need to adjust it further down the road.

  5. Hannah K

    My aim for this month is to observe and pull against my identification with “doing”. My emotional centre is far too attached to the belief that finishing tasks successfully and quickly will bring me happiness, or a sense of fulfilment, or make me feel like I’m alive. So often I remember to be present but get rebuffed by “I’s such as “I’m too busy to do that now” or “Just let me finish this and then I’ll concentrate on being present”(which of course doesn’t happen because then I’m caught up in the next task). My aim is to strengthen my verification that a sense of aliveness is not gained by what I do but the consciousness with which I do it. This, I believe, will also help me to pull against haste, an aim with which, till now, I have had very little success!

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Very good Hannah; an aim that stems from self-observation. Since it seems like you experience this throughout the day with many tasks, I recommend starting by focusing on a single repetitive task. This will scale down the war to a manageable battle. Focusing on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ while getting ready each morning? Or while having breakfast? Whichever you choose, you would have to pull against haste, because haste is the physical aspect of identification with ‘doing.’ Let us know here which repetitive task you chose.

      1. Hannah K

        I have decided to concentrate on the task of setting up my room at the clinic at which I work. This is a task that I have particular difficulty in doing consciously and slowly. My anxiety about getting everything ready and in place before my first patient arrives pushes me to hurry. Pulling against this haste will not only create friction but perhaps also help me to see more clearly the emotional attitude that causes the anxiety in the first place.
        However, that is not a task that I believe will make me happy; those only happen at the weekend when I have time to do the things I want to do. With these it is more difficult as they change from weekend to weekend. I therefore think the time to focus on here is directly before I start my first activity when I tend to rush my breakfast etc in order to get to what I want to do more quickly.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          This sounds good. We can’t change one thing without changing many other things. If you succeed in forming the discipline of slowing down while setting up your room at work, it will reflect onto many other tasks during your day. If nothing else, it will show you other areas to which the same discipline could be introduced.

  6. Azaë

    Hello to all and everyone, all the best for all, the Earth and its humanity.
    For 2017 and every day:
    To honour the Self-Consciousness and to radiate it. To share the Grace of which Life offers me benefit in every day, and as soon as I get the feeling to write about the here developed subjects, accomplish it.
    Order and Harmony.
    Azaë.

  7. Melissa Sweet

    My Aim for January is not a new one. I feel that I want to continue my efforts to act without haste. I am, at last, benefitting from the fruits of this long labor. This is very slowly becoming habitual. I still, however, have to observe and remind myself many, many times each day. When I do this I am no longer at the mercy of my horse. In a strange way, I feel more mature, poised and centered. I need to remain with this before I move onto something new. Then the new will have a more solid foundation on which to build.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      A practical and measurable aim, Melissa, thanks for sharing. Since you’ve been working with haste for a while now, the next step will be to add more centers to your observations. Haste is physical, and so related to the moving center. When you catch yourself in haste, where are your emotional and intellectual centers? What are you feeling and thinking that drives you to hurry? The more you see, the deeper you dig, and the more likely you are to pull out the weed including its root.

      1. Melissa Sweet

        Excellent advice, Asaf. Yes, I do need to observe my intellectual and emotional centers. I have begun to sense that my haste has a way of, temporarily, relieving some anxiety.. If this is the case, staying with the anxiety may serve as needed friction. I’m guessing that my anxiety comes from my emotional center. Is this true? I cannot attach the anxiety to anything particular. It seems promising to uncover these deeper layers.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          Yes, it is probably an emotional attitude that is driving the haste. In the Hindu metaphor, the horses (emotions) draw the chariot (body) and rider (thoughts). Rein in the horses and the chariot will also be rained in. So add to your work with haste and aim to observe the emotional attitude behind it.

          Krishna and Arjuna (Kangra Pahari, 19th c. Delhi Museum)

        2. Evgueni Z

          Melissa, I relate to your experience very much. I recently realized that my moving center (which is responsible for all the to-dos and planning) is what mostly driving my days.
          Sometimes, I update my to-do list and do other planning activities just to calm down my anxiety. I realized, that in contrary to my belief that I’m a “get things done” person, I’m rather a “get things planned” person. I don’t actually care that much about doing things, as long as I have them written down and organized in some sort of a plan. It’s as if in my mind I’m already done with a task as soon as I have a plan for its execution.

  8. Evgueni Z

    My aim for January will be to clearly formulate the aim. So far I’ve been trying too many things too often and in a too relaxed manner (resulting in very little success). I realized that formulating a small achievable aim and consistently pursuing it is a very difficult task for me. I realized an importance of this instruction: “Aim must be clearly formulated, understood, and remembered”. Now it is time to follow it.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      If you can’t formulate an aim clearly, it is probably because you aren’t seeing clearly. A clear aim should be the natural consequence of a clear observation. Whenever we see an aspect of our sleep, we naturally want to stop it, or at least, minimize it. I recommend making an intentional effort to observe the beginning of your day. We rarely wake up in momentum. Something happens that causes us to identify and then momentum rushes in. Once you observe that something, the formulation of your aim should be quite simple.

  9. rahşan

    since October I set an alarm at work. It is a three bell ring each lasts about 5 sec. It rings every 15 minutes. I found that while working I could not remember myself for hours. so at each 15 min intervals I obey that ring, stop whatever I am doing, watch my breath and try to stay empty. Every ring is a friction. I just want to skip those rings and go on what I am doing. I want to increase the intervals, thinking it is too frequent. and each time I say this is the choice time. what will you choose? It will decide my dedication. and I try to watch that discontent in me. I am going to continue this. it is still not easy.

  10. Dean Whittingham

    2017 will usher in a new work for me, one aimed at self-remembering whilst I am engaged in conversations with others, to which up until this point has evaded me, only ever being an observation after the event.

    Although I have had at times been able to slow my own processes down (with my work on haste) while I am listening to others, the moment I am required to engage, respond, answer, or there arises in me the sense that I will soon be required to talk, all sense of observation is gone – and to this day, with the exception of just 5 minutes ago when I knew I was heading to my office to type this post, I spoke a few words to my wife regarding dinner, with the aim to observe myself whilst I was doing it – and it was difficult to sense whether I had actually been successful or not, I do remember what I said, but the words came out slower than normal and almost stuttering, and I felt a sense of vulnerability in myself, and then I do remember that at the point where I had finished what I was saying and the tennis ball was now in my wife’s court (to respond), I did feel a sense of relief from the imposition of the aim.

    This is an aim I am looking forward to working on.

      1. Dean Whittingham

        Thanks Asaf,
        I wouldnt say I gesticulate at least not as pronounced as others close to me. If anything I do seem to use my tones and words more than gestures with limbs etc. Of course as I mentioned before these are only observations after the fact. What I have observed in myself because I have observed it others is the need or impulse sometimes but not always to stand and walk around if I am on the phone to someone and that it is very much against the grain to sit down. Any time I have aimed to sit down during a phone conversation I often find that by the time the conversation is over I am standing and at the other side of the room.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          I ask about gesticulation, because the moving center groups habits together. For those of us who habitually gesticulate, minimizing gesticulation automatically brings consciousness to talking. Since you observe an urge to move while speaking on the phone, then by forcing yourself to sit you will increase the chances of speaking consciously.

    1. Hannah K

      Hi Dean, I have also worked a little with being present during conversations, mostly with my husband, and I can identify with the vulnerability and discomfort you experienced. If I observe myself in these conversations I become acutely aware of my personality, my automatic replies, habitual ways of saying things and it is embarrassing to listen to myself. If I then deepen my state of presence, the personality can no longer function and, like you experienced, I feel vulnerable, unprotected by my personality and don’t know how to communicate any longer; I have no experience in speaking from a place of presence

      1. Dean Whittingham

        Thanks Asaf and Hannah,
        I asked my wife if I gesticulate and she told me mostly no, however, if I am ‘really getting into something’ then I will.

        Incidentally, an old acquaintance who I hadn’t heard from in a couple of years rang me the other day and the whole time I sat down and hardly said a word – he spoke virtually the whole time.

        I have to confess that talking about this very subject I have been able to pull up a lot of stored memories which I was not acutely aware I had stored up, including that I tend to shy away from party’s and get-togethers, even with family nowadays and it is because the general subject matter of conversations creates no interest for me and that I find it quite energy sapping trying to follow what in general others talk about. In line with what you have said Hannah, I have observed my habitual reaction can often be that I am looking at someone, nodding in agreement, but with my mind completely lost somewhere in my own world and I will also find it hard not to yawn. In contrast, like my wife said, if I am engaged in talking about something I am interested in I do get animated, but this is very infrequent, especially nowadays because I do not know too many people with the same interests as me, at least not those with whom I can meet physically.

        But this has made me realize that I have expectations about my relations and the subject matters of conversations and become despondent when the conversations are boring to me. My mother noticed this in me several years ago when she told me that I was far more withdrawn than I used to be as a kid and that I lacked empathy for others.

        1. Evgueni Z

          Dean, I can copy/paste pretty much each of your comments, and it would be describing my experience with 99% accuracy. That’s amazing. I’m wondering if we share the same chief feature (of which I know very little and look forward to the upcoming workshop to learn more) or there is another explanation to it.

          1. Dean Whittingham

            Hi Evgueni,
            Yes it is amazing and I am constantly amazed at the similarities to what others experience, although on the other hand it really does emphasize how mechanical we all really are. I have still yet come to terms with this concept of nothingness, but this goes a long way toward demonstrating it.

            When I was listening to the last workshop several things came to me, one of which was that I realized that my boredom when others talk is a form of haste.

            I too am looking forward to the chief feature workshop because this is also something I know very little about.

            1. Hannah K

              I can also relate to what you say Dean about boredom and avoiding social events where I know I will find the conversation boring. I’ve actually put it down to my centre of gravity. As I understand it, we gravitate towards one of the cards of one of the four suits and the qualities of that card are dominant in us. Boredom with conversations that don’t interest is, I believe, a trait of the Queen of Diamonds, the emotional part of the intellectual centre. Just as our Queen of Clubs prefers to eat the food we like and rejects the food we don’t, so maybe the Queen of Diamonds rejects conversations on subjects that don’t interest or excite her, that don’t teach her anything, that don’t challenge and stimulate her intellectually.
              I used to get almost panicky if someone cornered me and started talking to me about things that don’t interest me. I would spend the whole conversation working out how I could get away. Now I use it as an opportunity to practice divided attention, putting half of my attention on what they’re saying and half on my emotions or the feel of my feet on the carpet, or my breathing, or my right hand, or anything else that keeps me in presence and stops me from identifying with my acute desire to get away. Using the conversation to do this exercise keeps my Queen of Diamonds interested!

                1. Evgueni Z

                  Hanna, the realization has came as a good punch. All those “boring people and topics” is nothing more than just manifestation of our Vanity. Also, I realized that me hoarding information is most likely not due to the Greed feature, but rather to the same Vanity – I’m not gathering all this information to keep it in secret to myself, I’m gathering it to share it later to impress others. It was a very insightful and disturbing workshop.

                  1. Hannah K

                    Yes, for me too. I had secretly been rather proud of my love of knowledge, my passion for learning about esoteric subjects, and rather scathing of others with their boring small talk. Seeing it as Vanity has rather put me in my place!

                    1. Dean Whittingham

                      After watching the last two workshops a few times I kept wondering also about the subject of inspiration connected with ability to listen also. For example, I do not find it hard to focus my attention on what Asaf or anyone else is saying in the workshops, and in fact I find it difficult to actually pull away at times, and rarely do I drift away, and if so it is never for too long.

                      This made me realize that a lot of my fear of being around others, especially those who talk a lot is that there is no inspiration, at least for me, in what they are saying, thinking, or doing. But this is not an excuse per se, but rather, indicative of the fact that either I need to find more people who share the same goals, or failing this, more ‘ways’ to be inspired instead of expecting it from other people who quite frankly should not be under any obligation to give me inspiration.

                      It has also made me see that inspiration itself can very easily be swallowed up by vanity and self-pity when inspiration becomes an ‘expectation’.

          2. Dean Whittingham

            Hi Evgueni,
            I can also relate to what Asaf shared during the workshop regarding your first 30 minutes exercise. I find it almost impossible to do nothing for any longer than a few seconds before I get this urge to do something which my mind formulates as ‘productive’. A lot of this urge is to scan the environment and map out an expectation of how, what, why, who, where and when things should happen

        2. Asaf Braverman Post author

          Dean, people are accustomed to small talk. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t become engaged if invited to more profound subjects of discussion. Since we know that vanity is common to all people (ourselves included), next time you are drawn into a ‘boring’ discussion, try asking the person what has inspired them lately. Tactfully veer away from politics and the weather. What book would they recommend that you read? Which place in the world that you visit? They (like you) will be happy to speak about themselves, and you might well learn something about them.

  11. András V

    I observed a cunning group of “I”s that have all sorts of pleasant imaginations – the ones that feed my vanity- that last, sometimes very long. I like indulge in them and let them roll, that prevents me from my aims the most. My aim is to get rid of them, though I do not feel the emotional commitment to it.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      I appreciate your being sincere about not having an emotional commitment to this aim, Andras. This, in itself, is a verification of how different centers are involved in the work. It reminds me of the following quotation by Gurdjieff (in relation to the chariot analogy – image posted in comments above):

      “The driver is the mind. The horse is our emotions. The carriage is the body. The mind must learn to control the emotions. The emotions always pull the body after them. This is the order in which work on oneself must proceed.”

      We will discuss this in the workshop on Setting Aims.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Practical aim, especially since it clearly stems from self-observation. I suspect that you will have to go to the other extreme before finding the middle way, and will have to force yourself to be overly silent (if such a thing exists) before learning to speak with moderation. Simonides said, “I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.”

  12. Tim

    Now that I’ve had occasion to create more separation between myself and the external, I’ve noticed wrong working of centers. I have caught myself substituting sensing and feeling for emotion. I have caught myself being lazy by substituting associations for right thinking.

    I’d like very much to connect with higher centers so my near term aim is to establish right working of centers.

    I wish now to give thanks and gratitude to those in the group – thank you for your sincere efforts.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Tim, this is a good start, but it requires more definition. All the aims stated above are aspects of wrong work of centers. Since we cannot fight a war on multiple fronts, we begin by choosing the front that observation shows to be the most important or urgent. So I encourage you to observe yourself and see which wrong work of centers predominates, and formulate an aim around that specific area.

      1. Tim

        Is it bad if I don’t know yet? I mean, I am stupefied by the wrongness of how my centers work. Which would imply that I know how they ought to work, but I don’t. I wish to study this more but I need more knowledge and understanding.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          No, it isn’t bad, it’s natural. This is why we are dedicating an entire month to formulating an aim. Rather than something you think about and analyze, it must stem from something you see about yourself in the moment. Watch the current video tutorial to get a better idea: Self Observation

  13. anselmo

    My aim for 2017 is to reduce the frequency that i use the smartphone and use the moment that i resist as a reminder to Be. The idea is to observe (in this way do not become identified)the “I”s that want to read a message from a friend, send a message, check a social network, etc.. I want to struggle against the automatic reaction (habit) of checking the smartphone and therefore have more control over my machine.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Very practical, Anselmo. Inspired by your aim, I found myself resisting checking email while composing this response. Curious how notifications come with an unwarranted urge! It seems to me that these ‘I’s that want to read a message from a friend, see the latest news update, etc., are dissatisfied with the present. On the other hand, so much of today’s communication occurs through these chats and tweets. We must find a way to use them, and not let them use us. I look forward to working together with you on this area.

  14. Myrto

    A key feature I aim to observe is mechanical goodness. This is expressed as:
    1) I mechanically answer “yes”, to requests that later I regret.
    2) Diffuculty to say ‘No’ when the big boss assigns me a project (fear that a “No” will be translated as “insufficiency/inability” of mine.
    3) Fear of conflicting with others
    4) Overtalking, in order to justify my choices and make sure that others agree with me.

    The catalogue is indicative, not exhaustive!

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      This is very perceptive, Myrto, thanks for sharing. It was mentioned during the workshop on Chief Feature. Mechanical goodness is a combination of vanity and non-existence. We say ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ and ‘yes’ till the last straw snaps our back and we become negative. Also, this saying ‘yes’ to everyone and everything silently breeds a lot of resentment internally, so that outwardly we seem positive but inwardly we are negative.

      This is a good feature to see better and begin working with.

  15. brant smith

    My aim for 2017 is to carry out tasks in a timely fashion and see it through more efficiently. I have observed that I tend to waiver and slack at the end. I want to become a more diligent house keeper, and I believe this is a great place to start. Whether the task is cleaning dishes or meditating, I want to be more present to the moment, this year. I feel that in doing this i will be in a better position to act accordingly to my cosmos and the outer cosmos.

    1. brant smith

      In synthesis what I want to labor at is being less distracted by my imagination. I feel that a tremendous amount of energy throughout the year had been burned by this activity. Many situations that occurred in my mind with people never came to fruition. This expecting of the unfolding of imaginary results I feel pushes me out of the moment, until eventually I am wholly immersed in it. In retrospect of 2016,I want to cut out the small imaginings of what might happen, especially unpleasant scenarios.

    2. Dean Whittingham

      Hi Brant,
      I can relate to waiving and slacking towards the end. An ex-employer once told me that although I have a lot of drive and good ideas I seem to lack follow through and see things to the end. I wonder whether my drive and ideas etc comes from a sense of vanity and that once I know others have recognized my drive and ideas I no longer feel a need to see them through. On the flip side when people tell me I cant do something or that what I am trying to do is silly, cant be done, etc then these are things I do see through to the end as if I need to prove them wrong

  16. Patrick H

    I want to formulate the aim of controlling negative emotions specifcally in situations where I become impatient or nervous. For example, when I get worked up about another person at work, I don’t want to give in to the negative emotion, but instead strive to establish scale and relativity.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Good aim Patrick. If this negativity recurs with one particular person then it is an even better aim, because it is more predictable and you can focus all your resources around non-expression of negativity with that particular person. There is a lot to learn about ourselves from our negativity with others. Chiefly, we become negative when we see something on others that we don’t like in ourselves. So there is a feature in action here, but you must verify this first, see it for yourself. It reminds me of a quotation from Peter Ouspensky:

      One very common feature, described in many places in the New Testament, is when we see other people’s faults but not our own.

  17. Tim

    Thank you, Asaf, for gently pushing me further. My aim is to use positive attitude, formulated by right thinking, to counter negative emotion and observe the resulting conservation of energy within myself.

    Right thinking (driver), being longer in duration and in our control, can bracket emotion (horse), and attitude will steer negative emotion, not eliminate it, with the right and left reigns (good, bad).

  18. Marcella Berardi

    When I was a young women, many times looking at me from an outer point of view, I thought I was unlikable, unbearable, someone whom I wouldn’t have to deal with, if I had met me somewhere. It was mostly because of my claim to know the right and the wrong and the following judgment on people’s behaviour. As consequence I was upset for my own attitude of judge, followed from a worst self-judgment: I condemned me definitely. With time this aspect decreased, but a tendency to irritability still remains, so last year, I set the aim to minimize it. Observing me in my every day environment, I noticed that many times, although I want to be kind and supportive for whom is around me, I have a different result: they often perceive my inflexibility rather than my kindness and I feel negative emotions again. My work for this first part of the new year will be to prevent irritability paying attention to the needs of those around me: I propose to listen more than to hear, and to choose other’s benefit rather than mine. This training could shed light on this dark aspect of my personality.

  19. Dakhxesh

    Dear Friends
    Here is my aim about not expressing negative emotions,essence of my negativity is about right and wrong,i feel always am right,had a wonderful skype with Mr Asaf today about formulating a aim not expressing negative emotions..
    last 13 days, i catch myself three times and two times i succeed and one times failed
    one more area i explored in 2017,Be a intelligent fool thats helps to control negatives emotions
    am glad to part of this wonderful community
    Be well
    your friend in india

  20. Francisco

    Hi,

    This is my first post so I want to start by thanking Asaf his videos that brought me here. I’ve been watching them along 2016.

    My aim was going to be a modest one, just keep watching myself in moments where I have found that I can manage to do it like:
    – After awakening when I’m having my shower
    – Driving to my office
    – At breaks for breakfast, lunch…

    Reading above, I had to smile at Evgueni’s comments: “Sometimes, I update my to-do list and do other planning activities just to calm down my anxiety. I realized, that in contrary to my belief that I’m a “get things done” person, I’m rather a “get things planned” person.”
    That’s me too, Evgueni !!

    Finally, I suffer from fear of heights. According to my therapist, I need an exposure therapy. That is, I have to put myself in a situation where the panic attack will come and… stand there, self-watching. I’m not having good results. I just don’t get courage enough. It’s really difficult to me and I always find some excuse to avoid heights.

    Could this be my aim?

    I’ve loved to read your comments
    Regards

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Welcome Francesco; you area very welcome for the videos and I am rewarded to hear you benefitting from them.

      Your aim must stem from self-observation. So it is also legitimate to conclude that you must continue self-observing in order to formulate an aim (and in a sense, that is what you are proposing when you say “to keep watching myself…”). In order for the aim to sound a proper start to the year, it must be grounded on something you see about yourself, something that repeats and consistently takes you away from the moment. So keep your eyes open and watch what that is.

      Regarding the fear of heights, I suspect that to be a too infrequent challenge to serve as an aim in the work. It is good to bring the work to it (as your therapist suggests), but if it doesn’t happen several times a day, then again, it won’t serve as a proper foundation for an aim with which to start the year.

      Let us know what you discover.

  21. Kalev K

    Hi,
    As there is over half of January left, I would like to share my aim for January:
    I’m finding myself reading news too often, far too many times per day. My simple aim for January is reduce this interest, or if to be more precise – breakout, and replace this with more practical exercises.
    Nice and simple, but not the easiest for me.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Hello Kalev, this makes sense. What we read is a type of food, and newspapers are junk food. However, many people need to be in touch with the news for their jobs (I don’t know whether this is the case for you). In such cases, rather than eliminating reading newspapers altogether, it is more prudent to restrict the amount of time we spend on them. So for example, if you allowed yourself 30 minutes for reading the news each day, that would introduce relativity to this exercise, and also force you to be selective in what you read. So please consider this.

  22. Sophia Kastrisiou

    My aim for 2017 is to find again my aim… I feel that I have lost myself…and now is the time to find again why I am here, why I need this knowledge… sorry for my English, but I dont write often and I dont remember it very well….

  23. Goran Djukleski

    I have a big problem with very negative imagination. I often catch myself fighting and arguing with other people in my mind. So, my aim is to stop these very negative imaginations, as a first step towards struggling with negative emotions.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Goran, as mentioned in response to a few of the above aims, when we set the aim to tackle a widespread area (such as negative imagination) it is wise to find a single front and attack there. A good place to start is tackling the first 30 minutes of one’s day, right after one gets up from bed.

      I will send you a personal message with more instruction about this.

  24. Francisco

    I made a simple experiment: making a mark on a piece of paper (actually, a post-it note on my desktop) every time I caught myself judging another person. I was flabbergasted as the marks kept coming.

    The following days I repeated the experiment. Just for being aware that a mark could appear on the paper, frequency and duration of the “judging sessions” decreased. But they were …let’s say quite a few.

    So my aim was going to be reducing the number as much as possible. Make it zero, if possible. But I sent a message to Asaf and he suggested a better option (thanks, Asaf).

    So my aim for 2017: keep marking the moments when I loose presence because I’m finding faults in others and… finding those faults in myself within 24 hours.

    Regards
    Francisco

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Francisco, thank you for being open to my suggestion. When we begin observing features, we still think in terms of eliminating them. The more we see them, the more we realize how deep they are, all-encompassing. The question then becomes, not eliminating feature, but using it consciously.
      Using your mechanical tendency to judge others (which is an aspect of vanity) as a tool to see yourself, turns a weakness into a strength and makes the feature wake you up.

  25. Aporia

    My aim for all of 2017 is to increase the goodness in my life. Get better at identifying GOOD, use my strength to reject that which is no good for me (or less GOOD). The past, present and future symbolism does resonate with me as I’m using synonyms, antonyms and commonly accepted definitions to change the descriptive words I use for my emotions. Or keep them the same if they fit… a lot of times I can see that a different word would probably be more accurate. More authenticity and GOOD for goodness sake.

  26. Kalev K

    January will be over soon. My local aim for January was to reduce the time and energy I spend on reading news. With Asaf practical notice to put time limit per day, I got it done. During last couple of weeks the maximum time really was half of hour for news per day.
    Reducing time and energy to news is part of my personal aim for this year – to reduce pointless waste of energy on doing unnecessary things. With January work I realised that pointing on news was as pressing the air balloon with two hands – when I had limited time for news, then time for gaming started to increase. Putting time limits to news, I started to put time limits for the gaming also.

    1. Asaf Braverman Post author

      Kalev, your observation reminds me of the following quotation of George Gurdjieff:

      Change under ordinary conditions is impossible, because, in wanting to change something a man wants to change this one thing only… If a man observes in himself something that he dislikes and begins making efforts to alter it, he may succeed in obtaining a certain result. But together with this result he will inevitably obtain another result, which he did not in the least expect or desire and which he could not have suspected.

      It is good that you managed to keep aim and restrict your intake of news. The next step now requires finding an inspiring alternative. Obviously, gaming replaces one pastime with another. Perhaps you can form that habit or reading a different genre, one that not only passes time but also inspires?

      1. Kalev K

        Thank you Asaf, of course! I did took some books even with me to office, but the real work is about the switching moment, when brake for 10 minutes needed – to not find myself in news/gaming again. I will work out something about control of inner dialogue / work with different “I”-s. This environment here is good alternative too, of course, but not for small brakes.

      2. frank shaknaitis

        I arrived here in seeking to thyne ownself be true. I found out that I really don’t know myself. truly it is the most difficult task to accomplish but I am enjoying this journey.
        it is soon to be april and I am just learning about your January. perhaps I will never catch up.
        be that as it may I still wonder why I see 4 faces on the stained glass art work and not 3 like everyone else.
        I do agree wholeheartedly that as one result occurs, additional results join in. that is how I got here.

        1. Asaf Braverman Post author

          Welcome Frank. It doesn’t really matter how many faces you see, as long as you understand how we are taking this image internally, as inspiration to review our past year and accordingly set aims for the coming while. By observing and acknowledging that you don’t know yourself, you have already made a start. I encourage you to read the various comments to this post, witness which kind of efforts others are making, choose what sounds useful to you, and begin experimenting.

          The only thing that can be guaranteed in this work is that, if you genuinely make efforts to Be, you will see yourself.