Learn How To Witness The Mind With This Yoga Teacher's 3 Top Tips
When we tap into witness consciousness through meditation, we can more easily bring that awareness and steadiness into daily life. As the mind quiets and disengages from the chatter, we can view what's happening from an elevated vantage point. We can respond and react with less judgment and more authenticity. With practice, dedication, and patience, we strengthen our ability to hear and express ourselves more deeply.
Connecting with the witness is to touch the part of ourselves that is always peaceful and always connected to the Source, whatever "the Source" means for you. The witness has been our constant companion since before we took our first steps, and will be right there after we release our last breath. It is who we are.
3 practices for observing your mind:
Witness a daily ritual.
Choose to observe one thing that you do each day with regularity, such as making a cup of coffee or tea, or brushing your teeth.
To become the observer, close your eyes and bring your attention point to the center of your head. Slowly open your eyes and look out from behind your eyes. Sense the presence behind your eyes. From this vantage point, observe yourself making coffee, for example, with complete attention.
Observe the thoughts that arise in your mind without getting involved. Notice how your attention wants to wander out of your head with the thoughts. Keep your attention point in the center of your head. Experience the aroma of the coffee, feel the liquid sensation in your mouth, experience the taste.
Afterward, notice if there was more or less thinking when you focused on your attention point. Notice what feelings surfaced while you were witnessing.
Find a comfortable seat, relax your body, and feel your shoulders descend as the back of your neck lengthens. Tuck your chin slightly. Close your eyes, and in your mind's eye, draw an imaginary line from ear to ear. Find the center point of that line and rest your attention there. Feel as if your attention is seated there, near the center of your head.
Relax your forehead. Feel your breath. Stay at that center point in your head and observe your breath. Notice that thoughts attempt to pull your attention away from the center of your head. Feeling your breath, be the observer or witness of your thoughts. Let them pass, but keep your attention anchored in the center of your head, feeling your breath.
Very slowly open your eyes, keeping your attention centered, and feel the observer looking through your eyes. Stay in your body, looking out of your eyes. If your thoughts speed up, close your eyes and regain your seat.
Practice postures as the witness by doing the following during asanas: Be the observer of your body; without judgment, watch and feel it moving. Observe the thoughts that arise but continue to turn your attention back to observing sensation in your body.
Observe your edge, or the point of physical discomfort. Witness the reaction of your mind to discomfort. Notice the effects of the witness perspective.
Excerpted from Threads of Yoga by Pamela Seelig © 2021. Reprinted in arrangement with Shambhala Publications Inc. Boulder, Colorado.
Pamela Seelig is a yoga teacher and the author of Threads of Yoga: Themes, Reflections, and Meditations to Weave into Your Practice. She began her yoga and meditation journey in 1991 when an illness interrupted her Wall Street career. Along with helping recovery, the impact of her meditation led to a lifelong pursuit of perceiving and sharing yogic wisdom through practice, teaching, and writing. She lives in New Jersey where she practices yoga, teaches yoga workshops, writes, and empty-nests with her husband, Bob, and dog, Bodhi.