The other day I was walking home, gazing at the pristine snow on the ground and enjoying the sunshine. As usual, I was analyzing my day. I was thinking about some positive feedback I got from a colleague and I noticed my mind inferring that this must mean I’m doing well. Then I thought about a moment where my boss was unhappy about something I did, I noticed myself starting to get worried that there’s probably something wrong with me. Then I thought about the inner work I’m doing and thought that the inner work takes a lot of courage, so I should feel good about myself.
And THEN, I realized, wait a minute, I see what’s happening here! I am looking for myself in these thoughts! WOAH. In that moment, I saw it, so clearly. I am not going to find myself in any of these thoughts. I am not these thoughts! I am the one who witnesses these thoughts. I AM NOT MY THOUGHTS. In that moment, my thoughts stopped, and I experienced the centre of my being.
If you experience your sense of identity being swayed by your thoughts and feelings, as depicted in the first part of this story, it means you are identified with your thoughts. This is very normal. We are not only identified with the thoughts we are aware of, but we are also identified with many, many thoughts that we are not of aware of which have been suppressed and pushed down.
Mada Eliza Dalian describes this as follows:
“The body is like a reservoir where many thought-forms are stored. Most of the time, we are not aware of what they are. When the same thought is repeatedly suppressed, it will eventually cause pain. …. The more we suppress and resist what is true and natural, the more we suffer.”
Normally we try to manage the effect of our thoughts by attempting to change them or by suppressing them. For example, you might think an angry thought about yourself or another person and then judge that as being the wrong way to think and try to replace it with something ‘nicer’. Sound familiar? This way of engaging with thoughts tends to worsen the issue by creating more suppression. Often you will be just like a dog chasing the tail, going around and around with your never-ending thoughts until something happens to distract you and give you some relief. Later the cycle will just continue again with a similar chain of chattering thoughts.
The truth is, that none of us are our thoughts. To have some relief from being identified with our thoughts, it’s important to cultivate the practice of witnessing.
Mada Dalian explains that “through continuous observation, the only thing that remains is a detached witnessing awareness in the centre of your being. This awareness always sees whatever is happening around you without identifying with anything.”
Learning how to witness is not easy but it could be the most valuable thing you ever learn, especially if you want to uncover your true self. Many people meditate for years and only experience brief glimpses of what it means to witness.
To give yourself a taste of witnessing, and to help with dis-identifying from your thoughts and feelings, try this exercise from In Search of the Miraculous: Healing Into Consciousness by Mada Eliza Dalian
“Write Down Every Thought that Passes through Your Mind
For fifteen minutes every day, write down every thought that passes through your mind without editing, judging, ignoring any thought. Keep your awareness on your breath so your thoughts don’t run faster than the speed of writing. As you do this, you will see that your thoughts continually change and contradict each other. While writing, keep reminding yourself that you are not your thoughts but are the witness who observes the thoughts. This practice will help you to move beyond your thoughts and strengthen your witnessing awareness.”
Jandy Anderson is a Dalian Method Facilitator and offers appointments at Local Health Integrative Clinic on Saturdays. Click here to book an appointment with Jandy.