Witnessing is easy. You have done it your whole life, you do it every day and it’s actually second nature. When someone says they “can’t” witness or that “witnessing is hard”, what they’re really saying is, “I’m having trouble applying those skills to watching my own thoughts and behaviors.”
Yes, that’s a harder form. Sometimes it’s because you’re afraid to find out what you’re doing “wrong” (thusly allowing yourself to make a change for the better, of course) or that such a discovery is shameful (sure, there will be things about yourself that are embarrassing, but finding them means you can allow for change.)
You “witness” TV and the traffic as you drive. You “witness” a bird feeding from a feeder. And you “witness” sunsets and planes flying overhead. Witnessing simply means watching–but without figuring out.
That’s the rub: Witnessing is not figuring out. It’s merely watching to gather information so that the part of you that naturally does the figuring out for you can do so. Your role is to bring in information. That’s it. And that’s really easy.
Do so without gloves if you can. Notice the feel of the soil on your hands. The cool moisture. The scent. Notice how the flowers look and how it feels to slide them from their little containers. Do so with all of your senses. Become hyper aware–as if you’re seeing this behavior for the first time.
5. Watch a TV show or video on your computer with the utmost careful mindfulness. Notice everything you can. Background, stance of people, weather–everything.
You’ll notice as you do this it’s harder to consciously obtain information. But your subconscious will do so better. Again, this isn’t figuring out–it’s just watching with that same hyper-awareness.
4. Tying your shoes or any other “mundane” action.
Pay attention to each step. How each one feels to execute. The smells and sounds. Slow it down as if you were learning a brand new skill.
3. Making your breakfast/dinner.
This is something else we do on automatic. But let’s say you keep burning your eggs. You’ll want to slow things down and see how you’re creating that outcome, right? It’s the same thing with “burned” moments in our life. So slow down. Watch how it feels to crack open an egg. How it looks in the pan…and so on. Pretend like your automatic motions of scrambling eggs in the morning is a brand new recipe and you want to go very carefully.
2. Birds. Set up a hummingbird feeder (keep it filled–warm in winter!)
This is one of my most favorite activities. I have two feeders, and I love watching the hummingbirds. Here in Oregon, they do not migrate in winter, so I can watch them all year long. I’ve become aware of their behaviors, their individual personalities, their motions. Fascinating little creatures, really. Do I pause to wonder how they do something? Sure. I even research. But what gives me the most knowledge about these birds is just watching without purpose other than to just watch. I’ve learned more by doing so than I have from television shows about them.
This is something you read or hear about a lot, but becoming mindful of your breath allows you to dissipate a lot of energy and emotion. Not get rid of it–just dissipate the intensity. You can also discover if you’re a belly-breather (ideal) or a chest breather (sub-optimal). Belly breathing is fuller and oxygenates your blood more fully. Breathwork also helps you witness yourself, generally retroactively, as it helps you focus on the present moment and become more grounded. And the more grounded you are, the more equal your perspective becomes on both the big picture and the smaller details. You begin to see easier paths and how to let go of complications. Spend five or ten minutes just noticing your breathing, and you’ll see how centering it is, and how clear things become.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.