You might be surprised who you encounter when you start to meditate! Here are some of the characters you may come across:
1) The Inner Critic
Chances are, you don’t need an introduction to your inner critic. Most of us know it all too well. It’s the judgmental voice in our head that praises us one minute and levels harsh criticism the next for our actions, thoughts and overall life situation.
Whether it takes the role of ardent taskmaster or, on the extreme end, hardcore military drill sergeant, our tendency is to view this inner critic as the voice of authority. And for most of us, it never shuts up.
2) The Inner Kid
This is the aspect of ourselves that feels young, free, yet vulnerable to the influence of the inner critic. It’s the part of us that doesn’t want to do anything wrong, or get ‘caught’. It’s either very suppressed, or indulging e.g. tantrums, being stubborn or acting like a rebellious teenager. Either way, if it’s ‘running the show’ we are not taking full responsibility for our lives.
So, we know we are identifying with the inner kid if we are acting out, as a child having a tantrum, or if we feel small and powerless, too vulnerable to stand up for ourselves. However, there are also many healthy expressions of our inner kid: creativity, innocence, curiosity, playfulness and mischievousness.
3) Our mind
I am using the word mind here to refer to the arena where we are always trying to figure things out. It is the place where all the internal discussion take place — ‘should I do this or not’ or, ‘I am right and they are wrong’.
It’s where we daydream, it’s the place we escape to, it’s how we have learned to distract ourselves from our lives.
Please do not get me wrong — the mind is an amazing tool — but often we misuse and abuse it. This is a great shame as it is one of our greatest gift.
4) Our Emotional Body
Strong emotions can come up during meditation, and often we lose ourselves in them, thinking ‘I am sad’ rather than ‘I am feeling sadness right now’.
In meditation, when an emotion arises, let it be as it is. If you start to feel overwhelmed remember that nothing is permanent it will pass. You are having an emotional experience, you are not the emotion. Take a moment to see what it is like to not try and change it. See if you can notice the one observing/having this emotion — the part of you that is witnessing your experience. Come back to your breath, feel the ground benefit your feet. Often when we stop resisting something it fades away.
5) Spiritual States/Experience
We can also experience different states during meditation. Initially, states could be seen as emotions, but they are different. States that we have often heard in mediation are states such as peace and bliss. These are two common states in meditation, but there are many more too that can be experienced. They can have a tremendous healing effect on us physically, emotional and spiritually but they can also become a distraction — literally being so good that we forget that mediation in its purest form has no goal, and we start chasing after one state after another.
It is easy to understand how this can happen — these states are some of the most extraordinary experience that we can have as a human being. There is nothing bad about them but like most things in life, too much of a good thing can get us into trouble.
6) The Witness
The witness is one of the least understood characters. This is why becoming aware of the witness is a vital step in being able to move through and understand ourselves. It is an important key in unlocking what is running our lives.
But keep in mind, the inner critic can sometimes pretend to be the witness. One way to know we are in contact with the authentic witness is that it does not judge our experience or need to justify it in any way. It doesn’t have a fixed position; rather it is neutral and curious.
7) Your ‘Beingness’
Beyond all characters. This is who you truly are. This is who you are before your ideas of yourself, before your beliefs, before your images and labels. It is your true nature.
You cannot develop this, work on, or improve on this. Your true nature is and will always be perfect. It always has been and always will be. No one can take it away from you or give it to you because it is who you already are. This can only be known and understood through direct experience.
Guided Meditation for Noticing the Witness
Step 1 — Find a quiet place to sit – Sit in a position that is relaxed and At the same time alter. gently begin to follow your breath.
Step 2 — Simply notice what’s happened up to this point in your life. Become aware of all the stories you have about your life, who you are, what should or should not of happened. what your child hood was like, the way it was a school through your teens to young adulthood, adulthood through to mid life and onwards. Notice all the parts of you that you have labeled as good or bad as adequate or lacking – notice all the evidence that you have collected to support your interpretation of you and your life.
Step 3 — Now see for just a moment if you are willing to put them down. you might find yourself hanging on to the really good ones or the really difficult ones, just give yourself permission to put them down. If this create some anxiety for you know that you can have them all back in just a few minutes. simply set them down to your left hand side. Once this is complete for you move on to step 4.
Step 4 – Now turn your attention to your future, Simply notice your hopes, dreams and/or fears about the future. how you want your life to look, how you want to experience yourself, the lifestyle you want, the ways you think you should and should be. Thoughts such as when I get the new job I will be happy, when I am dating the right person then I will be happy, when I win the lottery then I will be happy, when I get Enlightened then I will be happy. Simply notice what fits for you and move on to step 5
Step 5 – As we did in step 2 see if for just a moment if you are willing to put them down. you might find yourself hanging on to the really good ones or the really difficult ones, just give yourself permission to put them down. If this create some anxiety for you know that you can have them all back in just a few minutes. simply set them down to your right-hand side. Once this is complete for you move on to step 6.
Step 6 — Now notice what’s left behind. You might notice that its is a lot quieter, there is more space, and there is someone who is noticing all this. Gently rest your attention on the one who is notice this, they are the same one that has been doing the exerciser. As you rest your attention on the witness notice that it is just present and here. Notice how your mind and body now feel. At this point we will often come into to contact with a deep sense of spaciousness.
Step 7 — Spend some time in this spaciousness, get to know it and become familiar with it gently shift your attention between the witness and the spaciousness. Allow yourself to rest in this uncluttered space, with the ease of listening to waves splashing on a beach.
Lets us know in the comment boxes below what this experience was like for you.