September 13, 2013

Are You Witnessing? (Or Suffering?)

Imagine a friend comes to you all excited about her new relationship.

She’s glowing . . . you’re wary. You’ve seen her like this before. You’ve heard the same words, seen the same expression. And given what you’re seeing, you’re pretty sure where this relationship is headed. It’s not that you’re negative.

So what is happening?

You can see the pattern of her karma.

You see the pattern of thought, speech and action that keeps her spinning through repetitive relationship dramas. It’s not that your friend can’t have a beautiful and fulfilling relationship—it’s just that as long as she cycles through that same pattern of thought and emotion, she’ll continue to get the same results—drama, pain and breakup.

You can see her situation clearly, she can’t.

You’re able to witness her pattern as it arises without believing what the pattern promises: this time it will be different. Not because you’re psychic or cynical. It’s simpler and more loving than that. You can see clearly with compassion and detachment: that for your friend to have a new experience—the pattern has to change.

As a compassionate, detached observer, you see her pattern as a pattern.

You’re able to witness the whole process—the words, the thoughts, the emotions—as it arises without being swept into the drama; without buying into it. But your friend doesn’t see the pattern—she doesn’t witness the pattern as it arises.

She sees her life through the filter of the pattern. She gets sucked into the emotional climate of the pattern and thus experiences the same drama over and over again. The path to a new relationship experience starts with your friend witnessing her own karmic patterns.

She needs to step out of her karmic patterns in order to generate new life experience.

But, how can she do this, when the sensations, emotions, and thoughts that are swirling through her body and mind all insist . . . this is the one.

She needs to observe with compassion and detachment her own thoughts, words, and deeds as a pattern—and she can. She just has to learn how. But, here’s the rub—this isn’t really about a friend.

It’s about how our patterns of thought, speech and action keep us stuck.

Because you (and me and all of us) also get caught up in an ever-so-compelling pattern of thought/emotion/sensation. You have a signature pattern; one that keeps you spinning through repetitive cycles of hope, struggle, drama, disappointment . . . you know drill.

So, what can you do?

For us to free ourselves from the repetitive patterns, we need to cultivate witness awareness.

To become a compassionate and detached friend of our own mind and body. So we can both see those patterns as patterns and . . . this is a big and . . . see life without the overlay of the patterns.

Cultivating this dual capacity—to see our patterns as patterns and to see life without the distortion of our patterns—is what frees us and transforms our lives.

So how can we cultivate this capacity?

Meditation practice frees us from the reactive patterns of thought/emotion.

We don’t have to struggle to be free or force ourselves to open to life. Actually, we can’t struggle or force our way to freedom and a fuller realization of life. Freedom, peace, creativity come as a natural consequence of cultivating meditative awareness.

And the beautiful truth is: we can cultivate this awareness. We can strengthen it; we can deepen it.

The changes that meditation practice brings will transform our brains, bodies and life.

These changes are deep, organic, and lasting. Neuroscientists are discovering more and more about how powerful meditation is—when practiced regularly. The practice untangles the karmic knots that keep your life tied up in emotional bondage.

Meditation practice builds your compassion & detachment chops.

It’s a skill not a mystery. Cultivating meditative awareness is a lot like learning to play the piano, or do a back dive, or give a compelling presentation. We get better when we practice.

It really is as simple as this—practice.

We can meet our own patterns with a meditative mind and a loving heart.

We can transform the patterns of thought, emotion and behavior that limits us . . . not by will-power, brain-power, or hope-power (all of which don’t work.) But, through the meditative awareness that we cultivate through practice.

All we have to do is practice.

When we practice—in the right way —our capacity to witness the patterns of thought/emotion/sensation strengthens.

Then, when the patterns start waving red flags, raining on your parade, and shouting (in the word’s of Mary Oliver) their bad advice—we can watch, feel and listen it all without being sucked in.

We can really be a healing friend to our own mind, heart and body.



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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