The Witness State Within
“Mind Observing Mind”
If the energy in your life sometimes feels sticky and sluggish, and the stories in your mind are fatiguing and overwhelming, there is an inner tool that can restore balance and positive flow into your world. This tool is the “Neutral Witness State”, often referred to as the “Inner Observer”. This bright and beneficent aspect of ourselves calmly watches all elements of our human experience without judgement. Consciously incorporating the witness state into our meditation and our daily lives, either while sitting or in action, the Inner Observer offers us freedom from limiting identification and supplies access to synthesized wisdom from our higher intellect. We can incorporate The Witness State with very little practice and quickly experience huge rewards such as peace of mind, more energy, better health, and a consistent sense of well being.
When life is moving along smoothly, without glitches, we don’t seem to need any tools to clean up our thinking, or reduce our attachments or fears. But when our “buttons have been pushed” and we’re feeling off balance, it can be very helpful to have developed a skill that can bring us back to center. This is when it can feel like a great relief to dip into our inner tool box and and access our Inner Witness.
As we begin to employ the “Neutral Inner Witness”, we realize that we are the mind observing the mind.
Our inner world is a universe unto itself, with it’s own inner ecology . Our mind is energetically alive and has the powerful, creative ability to impersonate anything it has previously experienced and recorded at any time in our life. To make matters more complicated; any of the forms, sounds or pictures that have been previously recorded in our minds can become endless combinations of forms, which continue replicating. Our inner waking life is very much like our dream life. Both worlds morph and dance, not only with our daily life experiences, but also with any conception, and previous collection of reconstituted opinions or projections of the outer world. While the thoughts that travel through our mind come from multiple avenues of our human experience, all the thoughts that we observe in our mind are filtered through the lens of our unique personal alchemy. Combinations of experiences and observations coalesce in our individual world to create a unique, personal point of view. In an evolving and apparantly never ending universe such as ours, it is logical that our point of view will constantly morph and evolve as well. With massive information available to us at any time, whether it’s due to internet , television, newspapapers, facebook, conversation; whatever source it comes from, we are exposed to collective information constantly. As we look at all of this “information” we incorporate this material into our minds, and we develop what we can call our “story”. As amazingly intricate beings, with so many levels and aspects going on simultaneously, we as masterful humans, are also very good at managing the layers and stories of our lives. But… it can get a little messy if we don’t take some time to keep our minds consciously clear.
If we identify with every thought that goes through our mind we’ll find ourselves exhausted. Here are some steps that will clean out and organize our human “hard drive”, deepen our inner connection, support our meditation, and ultimately brighten all aspects of our lives.
1. Dis-identify from your thoughts.
Observe your thoughts as if they are on a movie screen, and you’re sitting in the audience watching them. Take a moment periodically to check in on what ever thought is currently in the mind. Are you observing the thought without judgement, keeping an “hmm, interesting!” attitude? Treat the thoughts as if they were a story or picture. Let the thoughts go by as if you’re watching the events of a movie pass by. If the thought is so sticky or magnetic that you keep falling into it, center into your being, stabilize strongly in your physical energy, and in your mind’s eye freeze the translucent image of the thought, visualizing it as just a pattern of a picture on the screen of your mind. This technique is also a part of “pivoting” .
In the early stages of developing the inner witness, sitting meditation is especially helpful so that you can have less worldly distraction. During sitting meditation, it is easier to practice “pratyahara,” a Sanskrit term meaning “control of the senses”. When we are very quiet physically it is often easier to develop and integrate such techniques as the Neutral Witness State.
2. Make use of a phrase, mantra or your breath to create a bit of distance between you, the observer, and the thoughts traveling through the screen of your mind. There are numerous mantras that can be used to accentuate the space between the neutral witness and the flow of one’s thought stream. Many practitioners use the Ho’oponopono  phrases “I’m sorry, Forgive Me, Thank You, I Love You” as a contemporary mantra. Another helpful phrase is “I am not my thoughts”. Taking a moment to observe your breathing, watching the inhalation flow smoothly into the exhalation, can also create enough of a change in one’s focus to reduce the intensity of the original thought and let it flow by easily.
3 Make the commitment: “I am not my thoughts”. This is difficult to do all the time because we like it when the thoughts feel good, but hate it when the thoughts feel bad. To really support the development of the Neutral Witness, one has to observe and regulate both positive and negative thought identification.
4 Practice often. Besides “Sitting Meditation”, a good place and time to practice witnessing your thoughts and thinking process is during a shower or bath, and more often when using the toilet. You might retreat to the bathroom for a few moments and emerge a lot lighter..pun! Eventually, the presence of our witnessing state will be relaxedly awake 24/7.
In summary, remember that our Inner Witness is Neutral and Non-Judgemental. If (and when) our inner judge speaks out and condemns ourself, or others, this is just another opportunity to connect with our Inner Witness and bring ourselves back to neutral observation. The development of any art form takes repeated practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The development of the the Neutral Inner Witness rewards us with ever expanding, unlimited access to the present moment.
1. “Inner Ecology”..from “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh .This book and many others authored by Thich Nhat Hanh refer to “Inner Ecology”, also called “Deep Ecology.”
2. Pivoting…Relating to thought manipulation, this term was originally expressed through Abraham-Hicks. Pivoting is the act of consciously shifting one’s focus from one thought or concept to another.
3. Ho’oponopono.. (ho-o-pono-pono) To my knowledge, The four phrases “I’m Sorry Forgive Me, Thank You, I Love You” have been developed by Dr. Hew Len as a contemporary evolvement of the original Ho’oponopono, Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. Dr. Len’s refined system enhances observation and clarification of our thoughts as “memory or inspiration”.