Girl enjoying in a countryside scenic in sunset.We all feel the pull toward inner peace. It’s something we want and feel drawn to. Every once in a while, when we take a break and just ‘be’, say for example –  watching a sunset and becoming absorbed by it, we wonder why we don’t do it more often. You wonder how can I do ‘this’ more, get more of this wonderful decadent, fully-satisfied feeling? How can we have more of this inner peace thing? These feelings are your authentic-self pulling you toward your true nature.

It’s easy to grow tired of the frenetic mind. It wears on us, causes us to stress. The roller coaster of emotions the mind pulls us through grows old and pointless. A longing for respite, some real inner peace, is the calling of our real essence.

What is our real essence?

Until we are self-realized, we live in a world of duality. We think we are separate from others, from nature, from God, etc. We think we are this or that. But, thoughts are transient and not real. Ancient wisdom teaches us that anything that can be observed is not you. Anything perceived is of the mind and is not you. You can observe your thoughts. If you’re a meditator you have learned that you can objectively watch your thoughts and the activity of your mind. Therefore you are not your thoughts. And, you are not your mind. We build our identities around memories, thoughts of past actions and events – just our perceptions of events at various points in time. They only exist in your mind which is just the thing through which you perceive the world. The only real and natural state is that of pure awareness – just silent being. When we merge with this state, we merge with our divinity and are able to experience our true nature.

On the conscious level (where we perceive, belief, experience and conjure up our reality), we as humans can evolve. And, evolution is the symbol of life. A human can grow during a lifetime from animalistic tendencies, to rational behaviors, to loving tendencies that extend out beyond our self, even to a point of merging with our divinity. Witness consciousness is something that can help us tremendously in this area. Witness consciousness if diligently practiced long enough and with earnestness is said to be the door to self-realization. Am I self-realized? Heck no, I get pulled into the dramas of the world all the time. But, I have visited witness consciousness enough to know that that is where true bliss resides. It’s not a happiness that is fleeting like that of eating a piece of chocolate or like the jittery excitement of a first kiss. It is complete acceptance of the here and now, a full immersion with what is, a sense of fullness, completeness, desirelessness, fearlessness – a place where all past grievances and cravings fall away. It is a merging with your real self, which is timeless, changeless, indestructible, peaceful and loving. Witness consciousness is a doorway to the real you and true inner peace.

How do we practice witness consciousness?

First, spend a lot of earnest time in thought with the question “Who am I”, constantly negating worldly or ego-based identifiers. Second, to practice witness consciousness, you have to start watching your mind closely. You constantly watch your thoughts objectively every day and chose carefully the ones with which you engage, like the way you’d pick and choose your steps up a steep rocky hill.  Over time, your mind quiets. You are seeking the state which is between the thoughts. Many call this ‘the gap’. If you practice meditation, you can speed up this process. Your practice will carry over to the daytime and you will be able to practice an inner stillness even as you go about the normal tasks of your day.

You will begin to discern the negative thoughts that make you feel bad and be able to separate yourself from these lower level emotions by not engaging with ego-based fears and desires. When you don’t engage with  thoughts, they pass like  clouds. It takes an earnest and persistent effort to calm the mind by just watching the thoughts and not engaging with them, but over time this practice of inner silence will help your inner witness emerge –your natural state of pure awareness. And, it is powerful. When you turn off all the thoughts of judgement, the labeling of experiences, of people, of people’s actions and behaviors, thoughts of what may or may not happen in the future, and all your programmed responses, you take down all the walls and the blocks to infinite possibility and are able to truly live a mysterious and brilliant life adventure. Everything and anything is possible. In witness consciousness you fully experience the true unfolding of reality. There is love, light and blissfulness in all of it. Without judgement and cravings, there is a fullness, a contentedness with what is.  It is all we ever need, just to be – to be in our natural state – one with everything. It’s bliss.

If you’ve ever been fully absorbed in nature without a thought, you know what I’m talking about. You may say “Sandy are you in witness consciousness all the time?” Definitely not — but I wish. I do practice often and have had extended stretches there. But as mentioned before, I get sucked into the world and old patterns a lot. It is a state I strive for more and more though. It’s funny, I used to think I might not want to be self-realized because when I heard descriptions of self-realized people being desireless and fearless and detached from the outcome, it sounded like they might be feeling-less zombies. Now that I have experienced witness conscious enough to get a glimpse of what self-realization may be like, I know that it is so very worth striving for because there is more love, understanding and compassion there than can ever be expressed in an article. I think it is the best way to be alive and awake in the world, fully immersed in life’s unfolding.

I hope this description of witness consciousness has helped. Self-realization and witness consciousness are normally associated with Vedic wisdom. But, I believe these concepts are at the heart of all the spiritual traditions. Consider the words in Psalms – “Be still and know that I am God” and Christ’s words “The kingdom of heaven is within” when thinking of these concepts. As always, I’d love to hear your comments below!

Blessings!Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach