- The Witness
Try this experiment before reading further. Since the mind speaks in
words, for the next minute become the witness, the listener of your
mind. Close your eyes, breathe a sigh of relief, take three
abdominal breaths, and listen to your mind for one minute.
What happened? You probably had one of two experiences. Either you
watched your thoughts go by or, strangely, there were no thoughts at
all. My patients are often amazed that when they watch the mind
closely, it tends to stop or slow down. Usually the experience of
witnessing the mind - whether the mind falls silent or keeps on
running - is one of peacefulness. You don't stop existing if the
mind becomes quiet. You are still aware of your own existence and
your own consciousness, and that awareness is quite peaceful. Try
the experiment again for a minute.
Meditation develops the ability to become aware of a completely
nonjudgmental part of the mind, that of the Witness. The Witness is
the part of your mind that watches - that is aware of thinking.
Since the Witness is beyond the ego, it is not caught up in judging
and is thus content in any situation. Another name for the Witness
is the Self, or the unconditioned mind. It is the same in everyone
because it is not conditional on what our experiences have been. It
exists previous to experience and the arising of the different parts
of the mind.
extract from an article by Joan Boryensko
Joan Borysenko, PhD, is the author of several books including the
bestseller Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. She is a licensed
clinical psychologist and co-founder and former director of the
Mind/Body Clinic at the New England Deaconess Hospital. Her newest
book is The Power of the Mind to Heal (Hay House, 1995).