In order to develop patience and will, you do not have to do passive exercises only; any will do. The regular effort expended to overcome you mechanical reactions bears necessary fruit. However, skills of passive techniques are essential to start direct work with your awareness. When there are none, the Seeker might be trapped.
A typical example of what should not be done is many followers of Osho, a very popular mystic. They read his books and perform different dynamic meditations and active exercises, which he has offered in sufficient quantities. In his books, Osho keeps talking about awareness and says the right things, but his way of presentation of the material makes the readers believe that awareness is easy and effortless to achieve, and it only takes one’s desire to be achieved. This is where they get into the above-mentioned trap. As they do not have a pre-developed observation skill, they substitute witnessing with thinking. On learning the proper words from Osho, they keep repeating them and suppose that such super-quoting is demonstration of the high awareness level. In fact, they have not got to know themselves, and the only thing they know is what Osho said about it.
Thinking about observation and observing are not the same thing to such an extent that you do not know how to explain it. But I will try.
While witnessing is the real-time process, here and now, thinking is always retrospective. A witness watches the situation impartially whereas the mind considers the events understanding the core and assessing them. Imagine man has got in the situation he has always been afraid of and expected. When it happened, his reaction was fear. At that moment, the aware person will observe its appearance, related thoughts and cold waves flowing through the body. He is present in the situation and acts based on his views on the situation. Even if the mechanical response has prevailed over awareness, man will still remain a witness thereof.
The one who is unaware will get lost when fear appears, and will respond to the situation in a standard manner. In addition to the standard, ordinary actions, he will suppress his fear. In some time, he will think, “Yes, I was in fear, it appeared because of the psychological trauma in the childhood which...” and so on. He will feel aware and really smart. The first thing will be self-deception, and the second one – the truth. Getting aware of an emotion or desire results in gradual transformation of the being, and thinking about them creates an illusion of self-awareness.
I have seen the people whose awareness has always been within the limits of their mind, but their unconsciousness was displayed at all the levels of their being. It resulted from their thinking about self-observation, but the mind cannot understand even itself, let alone something superior.
Thinking about awareness is so common that it might be the main cause of failures by the Seekers who have not captured the difference between the activity of the mind and observation of such activity.