Witness the Witness
Week of 10/6/2019 Intention: Svadhyaya (Self-study.)
“The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist.”
― Eckhart Tolle
When reflecting upon this profound statement, my mind sees what is most assuredly one of the most uncomfortable situations for me to be in: a large room with people shoulder to shoulder, all talking, and I am in the middle of it trying to take it all in, unable to hear one conversation because I am trying to listen to them all. One conversation trying to get my attention is about preparing my son for life as he begins to get ready to be an independent adult out in the world. Another conversation is about business, another is about caring for family. You get the picture. All important conversations. All happening at the same time. As I begin meditation, I am able to take a few steps up a staircase so that I can no longer hear the topics vying for my attention. A little deeper into meditation and I no longer hear the voices at all. I am a witness, watching myself watch the conversations. The sound of breath replaces the sounds of words. My brain begins to respond positively to the detachment, and my body follows. Then my mind, sensing the inattention, begins a conversation about the meditation. "Hey, this feels pretty good." "Look at me, I'm meditating!" "Wait, am I still meditating? These are thoughts. This is a conversation. A conversation about not having a conversation. Dang it." And so, once again, the mind has tricked me out of detachment. Next time perhaps: Get on the staircase, and then leave the room. Leave myself leaving the room. Nancy Colier referred to this leveling of being an observer or "witnessing" as " the mind (is) a bit like one of those Russian dolls, each one inside another" in her article in Psychology Today about the topic https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inviting-monkey-tea/201401/mindfulness-has-your-ego-slipped-inside-your-witness . Becoming an observer of the mind is such a wonderful gift to ourselves to "rise above" and allow us to take an objective viewpoint while we take a rest, make mindful decisions, or go deeper into meditation. As always, our practice is a journey not seeking perfection, but enlightenment. Today, let's embrace ourselves in our imperfections, and keep our internal gazes warm with smiling, welcoming eyes...time after time.