Thoughtless awareness –
“observe the observer” technique.
Theory: When one sees a dream, one finds one’s body and mind acting in dreams. Body may act through various movements of body and mind may act through various thoughts in the dream. But, who sees the dream? The ONE who sees the dream, is not those dream-images, those dream-thoughts and dream-movements of the dream-body. The ONE who sees the dream cannot be mind also because it sees the mind and mind’s activities in dream.
Thus, the ONE who sees the dream can be called “witnessing awareness”/witness/observer/seer and it is separate from our mind. This ONE is our real individual self, which is a state of silent awareness.
If one tries to “watch this witness”/”observe this observer”/”see this seer”, the thought/desire/fantasy/image dissolve into this witness/observer/seer and the state of thoughtless awareness will happen. One can legitimately raise question here, “Who is the one who tries to ‘watch this witness’/'observe this observer’/'see this seer’”, then the reply would be, the ONE who tries to ‘watch this witness’/'observe this observer’/'see this seer’ is none but the witness/observer/seer itself. How surprising! But, this is so. “The seer can see itself”/”The witness can watch itself”/ “The observer can observe itself” because the awareness can be aware of itself (awareness, seer, observer and witness all mean same here.). If this phenomenon of “The seer seeing itself”/”The witness watching itself”/”The observer observing”/”The awareness being aware of itself” happens to 100% extent, it results into something more than thoughtless awareness, which can be called the state of pure awareness (awareness being aware only of itself). But, in almost all of us this phenomenon will happen only to some extent, and hence, will lead us only upto the state of thoughtless awareness.
It is very difficult to understand all this intellectually, but it is hoped that a few will be able to understand and gain from this technique. In fact, I was thinking not to give this technique, but then I thought, who knows some people can really understand this technique. Hence, I am including this technique for sake of completeness.
- Sit in Sidhasana or any other sitting posture or even on a chair and make the spine and head erect in a relaxed manner.
- Place the palms on the knees and close the eyes.
- The breathing should be natural throughout the entire practice. No attempt should be made to regulate either inhalation or exhalation during the practice.
- Now, observe the thought/image/desire/fantasy of the mind with full attention and complete neutrality (neither judge them as good or as bad, neither feel attachment nor aversion to them). Imagine that the mind is a screen and thoughts/desires/fantasies/images are pictures on this screen and you are an observer of these pictures. Observe each and every thought/desire/fantasy/image with full awareness and say to yourself, “I am not this thought/desire/fantasy/image. I am only its observer/witness.”. Do it 2-5 times.
- Now, be aware that the one who is observing the thought/image/desire/fantasy, must be different from that thought/image/desire/fantasy. Ask yourself now few times (2-5 times are enough), “Who is observing/seeing/watching this thought/image/desire/fantasy.” and then, turn the attention on the one who is observing this thought/image/desire/fantasy. If it is done correctly, it results into the state of thoughtless awareness. Repeat this step till thoughtless awareness is experienced.
- Simply be in it till this state is disturbed by any thought/image/desire/fantasy, in which case repeat the process of step 4.
- This technique may suit some people. Find out if it suits you or not.
- Note: please practise 3-5 minutes of Abdominal exhalation (also known as Kapalbhati pranayama in yoga) just before practising any thoughtless awareness technique in sitting position. This increases the quality of thoughtless awareness practice to the extent which one can’t even imagine without trying it first. Never miss it.
- This can be and must be practised even with open eyes to keep the mind free from thoughts during free time like bath/meals/travels etc and thus, to enjoy peace and relaxation of thoughtless awareness whole day. The practice of this technique during free-time apart from in sitting position for 30 min, is indispensable to gain maximum possible amount of peace and relaxation whole day.
- Note: please practise this technique for 30 minutes (more is always welcome) in sitting position for satisfactory result. Less than that will be too little practice and will not give satisfactory result.