By: Lisa Templeton, Ph.D.
It is inside of us all, an observer, a friend, a divinely calm and peaceful perspective that can provide a vast amount of guidance and presence to help us navigate the depths of our mind. Inside each person's mind, there is a thinker of the thoughts and there is an observer of the thoughts. If you go within and listen, you will notice this phenomenon. The thinker is usually focused on the future or the past. The observer is always focused on the present moment, objectively and compassionately processing what is happening.
Take a moment to think about what you are thinking about and experiencing in your body. What do you notice your thoughts saying? How does your body feel in general? Our inner observer is there to offer an objective, rational insight from a bigger perspective.
The content of the thinker is often pushed to the background and not really listened to because it causes pain or discomfort hearing what is being said. The observer makes no judgment, it just takes in what it notices and sits with it. This larger perspective is a mindset that can be utilized at any moment for the wonderful objective-producing qualities it contains within us.
Many ask 'who is this observer?' or 'what is this objective part of us?' Some say the observer is our connection to spirit and our Divine Self. Others say it's a part of the self that helps us tap into more objective viewpoints and elevate our perspective. Some just call it something sacred, of God or the Holy Spirit. Whatever this experience is, it is a part of us and brings with it a vast amount of power, compassion and love.
So with this new tool of objectivity and engagement of the present moment to observe what is happening and challenge it if needed, we can take more time to slow down and trust ourselves to listen. How can we possibly change self-critical thoughts if we are simultaneously suppressing them without conscious awareness of exactly what the thoughts and self-beliefs are saying. A wise one once said, "we cannot let go of something that we never owned."
We must trust ourselves that who we are is connected more to our observer in the present moment than to the critical and judgmental bully who was hurt and wounded in the past. Don't let your wounds lead to more self-criticism.
Remember that our physical health, attitude, stress level, life circumstances and level of resistance/acceptance all play a role in our thoughts, so it is vital to listen in on our thoughts. All these factors will affect the amount and intensity, as well as the content of our thoughts.
The most important thing to remember is that we can't believe everything we think. We must bring our objective, rational, logical mind into our experience while also bringing in the wisdom of our body and how it is feeling as a result of our thoughts.
It's important to question everything we think. Take on a courtroom mind. In a courtroom, evidence needs to be presented and a rational, objective judge listens to all the evidence from both sides and comes to a conclusion. We need to engage our inner courtroom mind when we are challenging the scripts of our thoughts that often relate to our past.
Once we are listening, try to stay in your objective, compassionate mind. Work to strengthen the experience of this present observer and keep intention on bringing this experience to mind as often as you can. Take time to just listen and notice without judgment of yourself.
Build this muscle and keep practicing as being in the moment gets easier the more you do it. You are not your thoughts - stay mindful to not identify with them. We have to listen carefully, be with whatever we find and then question if it is really true or not using our courtroom mind and bringing in evidence that might be in contrary to what we believe.
A thought can be so fleeting it's gone before we can even process what the thought conveyed. We have to set an intent to want to listen. Our feelings can also aid us. We generally notice when we are having feelings. If you notice a feeling you are having, ask yourself, "what was I just thinking?" You may learn something.
Remember that we can easily push an uncomfortable distressing thought away, back out of our awareness, whenever needed. Sometimes we need to do that. With our observer and our breath in the present moment, we can slow the mind down to be present for brief periods to dig deeper into what our thoughts are really saying. If we can pay attention to and track our thoughts, we can learn a lot about ourselves and our obstacles to self-love and embracing self-compassion; hence, living peacefully.
Our inner observer is a bridge to connecting to an outside perspective of ourselves, a different more uplifting script of who you are. Ever notice how it's so much easier to see into someone else's life and understand what is going on for them? We often use that distraction to focus away from ourselves. Why not use our observer to zoom out a bit and see what is really taking shape in our own lives? With practice engaging our compassionate observer, we can begin to perceive our own lives from a more outside, objective, compassionate and loving perspective.