Out of Your Mind: The Power of Becoming the Witness
"In today's rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much, and forget about the joy of just being." Eckhart Tolle
We rarely stop to question the busy landscape of our minds. Thoughts and emotions constantly arise and dissipate, often carrying us away on an endless stream of mental chatter. We rarely ever question how those thoughts got there or if they are even true. We become completely identified with and captivated by the ever-changing theatre unfolding in our heads, unaware of how it's dictating our existence. We take refuge in distractions and being busy, while keeping ourselves comfortably numb from ever turning our gaze inward. In fact, we avoid our smoldering inner discomfort at all cost.
We're often consumed by crippling anxiety, substance dependance and a constant stream of health issues. We outsource our validation and acceptance in a miasma of grasping. We allow ourselves to be swept into unhealthy friendships and relationships. Life is hard, lonely, confusing, painful, and we tell ourselves, this is just the way it is. Then, at some point, and that day will come, the already broken system breaks down completely and we hit some type of bottom. Enter meditation.
I know very few who've taken on meditation without some type of "bottom." Disastrous or otherwise. For myself, I can't point to any one particular event in my own life. It was more like a giant, rusting nuclear submarine full of things, lurking deep beneath the surface wreaking havoc, while slowly leaking toxic uranium all over the ocean floor.
It's taken me years to begin to see and understand myself more clearly. Let alone, love myself. What I did finally learn though, is that through this beautiful art of meditation, we embark on a journey of self-discovery that leads us to a place of inner observance and profound transformation. Over time, life becomes more peaceful, calm and almost effortless. As if instead of walking upstream in a raging river over slippery rocks, we are now gliding down-river being carried by the currents of life.
Here's my kickstart breakdown of what's happening when we meditate and begin to replace the unconscious, reactionary self with a loving, neutral self.
The Mind's Inner Drama:
Our thoughts play out like a ceaseless drama within our minds, sometimes captivating our attention and dictating our emotions. We become entangled in the narratives, judgments, and worries that arise, often losing touch with the present moment and our authentic selves. The constant mental activity can contribute to stress, anxiety, and a sense of disconnection.
Witnessing the Mind:
Meditation offers us a powerful tool to shift our relationship with our thoughts. By cultivating a state of focused awareness, we can observe the mind's activity from a place of detached observation, much like watching a movie unfold on a screen. This witnessing state allows us to gain clarity and insight into the patterns and habits of our thinking mind. It encourages us to question our negative thinking and out-dated beliefs and ideas that no longer serve our highest good.
The Role of Meditation:
Meditation serves as a gateway to becoming the witness of our thinking mind. Contrary to popular belief, it's not about shutting off the mind or getting rid of thoughts. That's simply not possible. As we sit in stillness and redirect our attention to a chosen anchor, such as the breath or a mantra, we create a space between ourselves and our thoughts. In this space, we develop the ability to compassionately and non-judgmentally observe our thoughts without getting caught up in their content or emotional charge.
The Practice of Inner Observance:
During meditation, we train ourselves to recognize thoughts as transient mental events rather than absolute truths. We learn to observe thoughts as they arise, linger for a moment, and eventually dissolve, allowing us to cultivate a sense of detachment. We realize that our emotions come and go like the weather and we get better at sitting with our discomfort. This shift in perspective frees us from being defined by our thoughts, enabling us to respond to them with greater wisdom and clarity.
Integration into Daily Life:
The benefits of witnessing the mind extend beyond meditation sessions. With consistent practice, we can integrate this observing state into our daily lives. By bringing mindful awareness to our thoughts, we create a space for conscious choices and responses rather than reacting on autopilot. We navigate life's challenges with greater equanimity and respond to situations from a place of centeredness.
Oh, but wait, you say you're too busy to meditate. Really? Let me be brutally honest here, this is a priority issue, not a time issue. There, I said it.
"There is no such thing as good or bad meditation, there is only awareness."
How can you begin to bring more of this loving awareness into your own life? Actually, the real question is, why wouldn't you?