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  • Writer's pictureJohn Turnquist

The Silent Observer

There are two aspects of the self: the Silent Observer, and the “stuff” (thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, fantasies, impulses, etc) that is witnessed by the Silent Observer. The Silent Observer is neutral, objective, calm, unchanging, and peaceful. It always exists in the present moment, not the past or future. Mental, emotional, and physical activity is always in a state of flux; however, the Silent Observer is ever-present, unchanging, and still -- just "hanging out." Discovering the Silent Observer is the gateway to experiencing boundless serenity at the core of your being. Over time, the more experienced you become just witnessing your ever-changing mental and emotional landscape, while simultaneously “noticing the one who notices,” the more you will realize that there is a calm, peaceful center at the core of your being. This serene center is akin to the eye of a hurricane: the mind is the stormy part, the Silent Observer is the peaceful eye.

Gaining awareness of the Silent Observer is a gradual process. It might help to spend time, preferably in silence, simply observing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Whenever you find yourself distracted by thought, gently shift back into observer mode. In the beginning, it might help to say things like, “I observe this thought (or feeling, or sensation).” Spend time observing your experience -- without judgment or trying to control it. Just be with it; what is, is.

Once you become comfortable observing your experience, follow your awareness back to its source: the Silent Observer. Begin focusing more on being the observer rather than on what is being observed (“Who is this continuous observer, always aware of my changing experience?”). As your concentration on the Silent Observer deepens, you will notice that it is a stable and serene core from which you experience the ever-changing landscape of your mind. It’s always there, just observing and hanging out; it’s a place where you can find solace and comfort when the mind becomes overwhelming. Once the mind calms down -- thanks to the Silent Observer -- your true essence shines through and there’s a sense of, “Ahhhh…I’m home.”

Be patient with this process. Its benefits will unfold over time.

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