On the spiritual path (or any path really) awareness is key. To be aware of who we are is probably one of the most important, yet complex aspects of our journey. It is the foundation of our inner work. The state of awareness required to do this is often called 'the Observer'. So, what is the observer and how can we cultivate it? This is the first in a 3 part series of articles on the observer.
Qualities of the observer
Generally, we will want to observe 3 aspects of ourselves, at least to begin with: our body, our emotions, and our thoughts. So, we will need to find a place within ourselves that is beyond these three. That is the 'Observer'. Certain qualities of the observer may alter as we move down the path but generally there are a few characteristics that stay constant:
In the beginning
As we begin to cultivate the observer, we will almost certainly be coming from the mind. This is a good place to start as it is familiar ground - we are used to approaching things through the mind. So, in the beginning the 'Observer' will likely be reflective, looking back on the previous moment. This is ok, but its tiring, taking a lot of concentration. But, with practice it will begin to come as second nature and there will come a point where the observer is no longer intended - that is to say it is no longer an effort. It is either there, or it is not. In fact it may seem to come and go at random times. If you feel this then great! It means you are beginning to touch the real 'Observer', what I call 'Witness Consciousness' which is beyond mind.
My early experinces
I'd like to share with you an earlier experience of my own as the observer began to 'kick off' in my consciousness. Here is my journal entry:
Phew! Becoming grounded in the observer is in some ways surreal.
I am observing my movements, my thoughts, my feelings. Yet feel like none of these are 'me'. I am stationary while this drama, this movie is being played around me, whats happening now? I am not this. Even now watching myself type, thinking about what words to put down to adequately express myself. What is moving? I don't feel like I am controlling this, it's just happening. My body has it's own 'mind' controlling it without 'me' being directly involved (this is not quite the perfect way to express this but with limited words what can I do eh? )
I feel disconnected with this, not involved any more, yet also more connected, conscious of whats going on. But its almost unbearable sometimes (ego clinging on, wanting to draw me back into the matrix?)
This is all very strange, and yet natural.
It can be painful
Cultivating the observer is not always easy. Essentially you are opening yourself up to all your 'stuff'. You will become more sensitive to discomfort and cravings in the body, subtle reactions to things you never knew you had, and destructive patterns of behaviour. Your coping mechanisms may well fall away just by being aware of them. And, on top of all that, your sense of identity will be seriously challenged as you realise that many of these things are not you.
Yes, cultivating the observer can be challenging and overwhelming.
The benefits can far out-way the pain, especially if you realise that moving through your pain is the path to a more expanded sense of self.
You will experience more clarity in yourself, which in turn gives you a better understanding of which path is best for you and, therefore, a sense of purpose.
Even though you are more sensitive to your pain (and probably other peoples as well) you may find that you actually suffer less because you are no longer identified with that pain.
My name is Richard. I love to write, and here you can find my general musings, observations and articles. Enjoy!
To stay up to date with articles follow my Facebook page
BACK TO THE SOURCE
Bringing you home