"There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it."
― Michael A. Singer, The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself
After reading The Untethered Soul, I have been spending time lately practicing what it is like to be a more conscious observer. The idea that I am aside from my thoughts and perceptions, that I am simply experiencing but I am not my experience, has been completely novel and enticing. It's sort of bizarre to have been on this planet for so long and never thought about the concept of being separate from my thoughts. I've been advised many times to witness my thoughts, to watch them and acknowledge them and let them go, but never have I thought about how I could be something other than the voice inside my head. I never took the stance that the fact that I can hear my thoughts makes me apart from them.
With this newfound theory, I have attempted to take each moment as a privilege to witness and a chance to observe in a way that benefits me. With the experiences that seem to crush my soul, I remember that it is an emotional break but I am not my emotion, that the feeling will pass and I will still be in tact. When I find I am hearing a recognition of joy, I try to see it as evidence that I can be positively impacted, that I am touched by an energy that moves and uplifts me. Through it all, I do not resist. I see the external and partner with myself to know my safety and security aside from that which hits me. That it is not me.
This has allowed moments to flow more freely and I have uncovered a more spiritual experience in the hope an experience can hold. This past Sunday, I had one of the best days I've had in a long time and I can't help but see the connection to how I let myself be in the moments of peace. Living with depression and anxiety, it is often challenging to feel like a participant in my life. Yet, it was my presence and awareness of what was happening around me and how I could hold that in a way that felt useful that gave me space to appreciate how much I could breathe into and grow with the opportunities that presented themselves.
Right now I live on the outskirts of Boston. Taking time to go into the city, I was aware of the weather. Temperature and weather is something to which I feel extremely sensitive. I've always known I love good weather, but also feel I thrive solely in that weather. Remembering that my feelings towards the weather aren't me, though, allotted the room to feel gratitude without dependence. I gained knowledge that my growth is separate from my perspective and my surroundings. I breathed.
Walking around for a bit after exiting the T, I got a decaf coffee at Starbucks where I listened to a few baristas joking about how much they hated their jobs. Being an ex-barista, myself, I remembered my own experiences and had a dialogue in my head about what it was like to be a barista, what I did and did not like, and what I thought about what the employees in front of me were saying. Instead of being pulled into that with a set of emotions, I watched those thoughts and found myself in my sentience. I could breathe.
I went into a few shops, I had thoughts about my body and my movement and then realized how about an hour had passed where I hadn't thought about my body nor had a list of unhealthy "shoulds". Being in recovery from an eating disorder, the time away from the restlessness of my disorder is precious and rare. The realization of this tranquility set to work a new strain of thoughts. I then listened to the reactions of both excitement and bliss from the freedom I had had, as well as the disappointment at the return of these challenges. I was aside from them, though. I was still unchanged: a witness to a variety of occurrences. I breathed.
As the day went on, I spent time eating lunch in the park. I heard the chatter in my mind, and saw it for the information it was. I did not change my actions to quell my mind, but took the knowledge of my separation from what I think to give me solace. I moved on. I saw children out playing, adults out reading, a clown giving out balloons, people riding in swan boats, and a man singing happily. I felt lucky to be alive and grateful to be there. I let those feelings and thoughts be noticed and enter my existence. I knew myself and breathed into the surroundings that took me in.
There are days now where my consciousness absorbs me. There are hours where the line is blurred between who I am and what I am doing or seeing or thinking. I find difficulty in distinguishing the point I finish and the place my understandings start. I hold onto moments at times, and push others away, keeping both stuck in places that can't be processed. Yet, I am learning. And, I am becoming aware that I am aside from my learning. I am me and I am giving myself a chance at a more open and true existence.