Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Observer

It feels right for me to preface this month’s post with a reminder about why I am writing this blog. These posts are a summary of things that have worked for me. I share them with the intention that it may in some way be helpful to you on your own path. If you find what I write resonates with you, I would encourage you to experiment with it in your own life. If it does not, that is ok too! We are all finding our own way on our own paths.
 The Observer
Quote of the month:
When you are present in this moment,
you break the continuity of your story, of past and future.
Then true intelligence arises and also Love.
- Eckhart Tolle

As you begin reading this post this month, take just a moment….. take a breath…. and another….. look around your room. What do you see? I see a cat sleeping with his nose tucked lazily under his paw. Listen to what you hear. I am hearing crickets right now and some work men across the street. Feel the chair under you. Try to bring your attention fully to where you are right now. Not to what you have to do at work later, not something the kids said earlier, not your to-do list waiting for you when you finish reading this post….. Just simply here…. now! Let’s start from here!

The focus of last month‘s post was “the voice.“ This is term I am using to describe the mental dialogue that goes on inside of our heads, nearly all of the time. I am curious if some of you have had a greater awareness of the voice in the last month? Over the last year or so, the focus of this blog has been centered on ways to “manage” this voice. This is useful and can allow one to live a more peaceful existence, especially in those times that one cannot quiet the voice. August and September’s posts are taking a little bit different slant and suggesting that there is another way around the voice.

If you would like to try making this post experiential - as you are reading, try shifting your awareness as you are reading - from the voice to what I am calling “the observer.” Making this shift requires that you are present in the moment as the quote above suggests. You cannot be thinking about what happened at work yesterday or what you are having for dinner later tonight. You must be right here, right now. You can also experiment with this in your daily life. Life will get one caught up in the voice quickly again, so then try to make the switch again… and again.

What I want to suggest in this post is to begin to think of yourself as the OBSERVER of the voice. Yes, the voice is inside your head, in your mind, or a part of the ego or personality…. But since you can also hear the voice, consider the possibility that you can just observe it. You do not have to believe, follow or get caught up in everything it says. You can be aware that the voice is there and you then choose where to focus your attention.

Let’s try an experiment that I do with my boys. When they are upset about or scared of something, I tell them that I am going to make them think about a purple elephant. They of course roll their eyes (more and more often as the teen years approach!) but generally play along anyway… so here we go! So think about a purple elephant…. Can you see it? Now put a hat on his head. You can choose any hat you like. A sombrero, or a top hat, it’s up to you. Any color you like. There will not be any quizzes at the end of the post, so do not worry too much about the details.  Just have FUN with the exercise!  Next, picture a clown riding on his back. Can you see it? Now, let’s make the elephant walking on the beach…. and some big waves rolling in. There is a surfer riding the waves and he comes over to say hello to the elephant. He introduces himself and says his name (you make up a name for Mr. Surfer!) Mr. Surfer also says that he really likes the shade of purple you chose for your elephant….. can you picture the whole scene? Observe the scene. Could you tell me about it? In detail? I am wondering what shade of purple you chose? Deep dark purple? Lavender? Violet? Periwinkle? What name did you chose for your surfer? Observe the scene for a moment more.

Can you feel yourself as the “observer” of the scene? See the scene in a part of your mind and picture yourself observing the scene. Try to sense where that observer part of you lies. Words are a bit misleading here… but since we need a way to talk about it, I’ll do the best I can within the limits of language. There really are not 2 of you and there really are not 2 “places” in you…. but it can be useful to talk about it in this way.

Is any of the scene real? Of course it’s not real. We made the whole thing up together. We did this by focusing your attention on it. Think of the scene as “the voice” and the attention to the scene as “the observer.”

I am NOT saying that real things have not happened to you or that those things shouldn't be a part of your voice. It is very helpful to only have to learn once, “Do not touch the hot stove” and then let that be part of your future internal voice, so you do not have to learn this more than one time. Can you take a moment to hear what your own voice may be saying right now…..? Is it calling me nutty yet? Is it telling you that you should be folding the laundry? Can you sense yourself as the “observer” of that voice? Can you try to shift your awareness to that part of you that is the observer?

Let’s try another example…
Pretend you are watching a movie in a theater. Let’s make it one of the Star War series, just for fun! Have you ever had the experience of being so caught up in the movie for a few minutes… or maybe longer, that you lose awareness of everything else? For a moment or two you become Luke Skywalker….. you have your blue light saber in your hand… you can hear its hum and you can feel the force is with you! Darth Vader, red light saber in hand, is in front of you! The battle is raging….. you hear the louder clashing of the light sabers and feel the sparks flying around you. Darth Vader then severs your hand with his light saber and is persuading you to cross over to the dark side. “Never!” you yell! Just as Darth Vader is about to say, “Luke, I am your……..”

Suddenly the film in the projector breaks…. bright lights flash across the screen, the sound is haywire! Abruptly, you are jolted back into the reality of sitting in the seat, being in the movie theater…. with someone crunching popcorn a few seats away. What just happened?

The movie is an analogy for how we can also lose ourselves in “the voice.” You may have even become lost in it for just a moment as you read. Then when you suddenly became aware that is was indeed a movie, through the flashes of light and haywire sound, you shifted out of being Luke Skywalker and into “the observer“ of the movie.... and the observer of the description of the movie in this post. Can you sense that "observer" part of you again? This example is far more jarring than it need be. It is simply set it up that way to make the distinction a bit clearer between the voice and the observer.

Another note of clarification, a few months ago I wrote about the voice of intuition. In that post I mentioned that there are lots of different “voices” we hear and they can sometimes be difficult to distinguish. Actually quieting “the voice” of your ego or personality will allow the voice of intuition to be heard more clearly.

For the past year, I’ve mainly been writing about “managing” this voice. This is useful and can allow one to live a more peaceful existence for those times that one cannot make the shift into the observer position. By making the shift, and setting aside the voice of your ego, it can help to stop creating negativity, suffering or unwanted consequences in your life. You are the observer of the voice. You can choose, if you want, to believe what it is telling you OR consider that it just might be making up a purple elephant! Further, you can just observe it without any judgment at all!
To continue reading next month's post on Whole and Complete.... click here!
I would love to hear your feedback as well as any questions you may have or topics you may be interested in for the future. I also would like this to be a place where you can share your thoughts about what has worked or not worked for you. Feel free to do so by clicking the “comments” link, below, at the end of each post. If you prefer, you may also send comments to me directly at . All posts will be archived along with other useful information at
Simply Spirituality .

Until next month….
Here's hoping you keep your spirituality simple!


Anonymous said...

I "felt" my observer to be a very shy bear one time at the end of yoga class - I feel this picture could give a picture to my being?

Have you ever pictured your inner observer?

Penelope said...

Thank you so much for your comment! I love that you shared how you "felt" and pictured your observer! This is SO specific to each person..... you will see that my image and yours are so different.

I would also describe it as something that I "feel." It is almost like a separate place but still part of me. My "observer" feels like it is "behind" me. It "feels" like a "space" that resides an inch or two behind me and maybe slightly to the left (though I don't know why.) It is almost like I "fall" back into this space. Sometimes I feel like I am "sitting" in this space, looking out of these eyes, from further back.....

No one should set either of these as an example that they should try to attain. Hopefully by seeing how different ours are, it will allow others the freedom to explore their own inner observers in whatever way feels right to them!

Thank you!