What is the benefit of this exercise?
Perhaps it is an exercise. Perhaps it is more than that and you begin to observe yourself as a matter of habit, a different kind of habit, a conscious habit. Reading your manifestations in real time provides much useful data.
You will be shocked to discover who you are and what you are doing. It is especially valuable to witness your insincerity. You may become uncomfortable with yourself, a real bonus for those who wish to wake up. Layers beneath layers are slowly exposed. If you are gradually able to see yourself without judgment or justification, your reactions may subside and you may begin to have the possibility of responding differently. Patterns are worn away by impartial observation. Can you learn to be impartial about what you see?
Working with a group in a work space helps this process immensely. We see ourselves most clearly in interactions with others. In the presence of others who are engaged in this work, there is more seeing and greater objectivity. It is contagious.
What do you mean by layers beneath layers?
Observing muscular tensions, you find that, in making a mental effort, you clench your left forearm, an unnecessary contraction which probably signals anxiety, reduced awareness and loss of energy. Over time, you see this is the end of a chain of physical reactions that begins with an in-breath, followed by a tightening of the abdomen, then a tightening of the jaw followed by the forearm. It does not matter when or why this set of reactions began. This is not psychoanalysis. Seeing it now, in the present, is the aim.
Knowing the chain makes it possible to stop it by releasing one of the links—releasing that particular muscular tension interrupts the set of reactions. Knowing is not knowledge. Knowing is an action of perception while knowledge is not.