The Silent Witness: Finding the Still Place Within

August 22, 2019 | John Turnquist

There are two aspects of the self: the Silent Witness, and the “stuff” (thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories, fantasies, impulses, etc) that is witnessed by the Silent Witness. This witnessing self is neutral, objective, calm, unchanging, and peaceful. The Silent Witness always exists in the present moment (the “Eternal Now”). The mental, emotional, and physical activity observed by the Silent Witness is always in a state of flux; however, the Silent Witness is ever-present, unchanging, and calm. Accessing the Silent Witness is the gateway to experiencing boundless serenity at the core of your being. Over time, the more experienced you become just witnessing your ever-changing mental and emotional landscape, while simultaneously “noticing the one who notices,” the more you will realize that there is a calm, peaceful center at the core of your being. This serene center is akin to the eye of a hurricane: the mind is the stormy part, the inner witness is the peaceful eye.

Gaining awareness of the Silent Witness is a gradual process. It might help to spend time, preferably in silence, simply observing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Whenever you find yourself distracted by thought, gently shift back into observer mode. In the beginning, it might help to say things like, “I observe this thought (or feeling, or sensation).” Spend time observing your experience — without judgment or trying to control it. Just be with it.

Once you become comfortable observing your experience, follow your awareness back to its source: the Silent Witness. Begin focusing more on being the observer rather than on what is being observed (“Who is this continuous observer, always aware of my changing experience?”). As your concentration on the Silent Witness deepens, you will notice that it is a stable and serene core from which you experience the ever-changing landscape of your mind. It’s always there, just observing and hanging out; it’s a place where you can find solace and comfort when the mind becomes overwhelming. Once the mind calms down, the Silent Witness shines through and there’s a sense of, “Ahhhh…I’m home.”

Be patient with this process. Its benefits will unfold over time.

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