Living as a Witness.
Growing up I was always enthralled in mysticism, and ethereal realms. Parallel universes and past lives, spirits, ghosts, magic, basically everything and anything unnatural and enchanted. The Chronicles Of Chrestomanci, Stranger With My Face, The Magician's Nephew, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, these were my childhood staples. When the Harry Potter book series came out I was immediately hooked, and am now humbly adorned with the Deathly Hallows symbol, which I got after 6 long years of contemplating whether my want for a Harry Potter tattoo was a 'phase' that would pass. It wasn't, and still makes me smile every time I look at it. It's my only tattoo.
My parents raised my sister, Charity, and I in a very strict Christian household (born-again). We weren't allowed to listen to secular music, or watch many movies other than Disney. I was the child that had to go to the library every year when my class would watch 'The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow' at Halloween time every year. Our TV hurriedly got turned off when 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' trailer would come on in 1993. My Pokemon card collection had to be burned in my front yard after Christian Radio concluded that the cards were 'of the devil', and that the black adhesive on the inside of the card was 'black magic'...
In 7th grade my friend Patrick got me Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that had just been released, for Christmas. I knew this would have to be my very best kept secret. It was a hardback copy and probably costed upwards of $35. I'd keep it hidden under my pillow when I wasn't in my room and one day, shortly after I got it, when I went to take a shower, my sister grabbed it to read a few pages... And my mom busted her. After my shower, I walked out to see my mom ripping apart my book, page by page, onto my sister's carpet. Charity never replaced my copy.
I was that kid.
It never rocked my other-worldly fascination. If anything, it made me more curious to know what it was that people were so afraid of in my family and church.
I like sharing bits and pieces of my childhood in these entries, I think it provides greater perspective to where I've come from.
Skip ahead 7 years, I'm off at my 200 YTT, surrounded by accomplished yogis, while I'm only about a year and a half into my yoga practice. There was nothing spiritual about it, yet.
One of our assigned reading books was The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and I'll never forget this first flicker...
This translates to: The highest level of dispassion, leading the self-realization, takes place when the aspirant is free from all forms of "thirst", including the desires resulting from the interplay of sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic forces of nature.
Now, mind you, a lot of the readings of this book in my circle of 55 during my yoga studies with Annie Carpenter... went right over my head. I couldn't really grasp a lot of it, and was still very tied up in my anxieties and lack of self confidence, avoiding and sneaking out of every opportunity to practice teach, and crying on most bathroom breaks.
Until Annie asked us what this Sutra meant to us, and one woman said "I think it's talking about living as an observer to our own lives...", and the conversation shifted to that. Which immediate struck a chord for me.
I'd been seeing a therapist for about 18 months and continually describing to her this type of internal world I lived in. That I could be having a conversation with someone, and simultaneously, it's like I was hovering above our interaction observing everything, mannerisms, posture changes, flexions in voice, discerning what was going on between us internally. Constantly observing.
I spoke with Annie later that day about this, and she mentioned how many people take years to develop this observant 'witness' mind and how much it can help us in our lives.. This really shifted something in me. Not only was I not a total 'freak', alone in this way of thinking that I hardly knew how to communicate to people, but it'd been written about in these ancient texts, and other people are familiar with it too!
After that, I really began picking my room mate, Ashley's brain. She had been practicing yoga for nearly a decade, and was a living example of this entirely different and curious way of living. She was filled with joy, and kindness, for the first week or two she really confused me, I'd never met anyone like her. I wanted so badly to understand how someone could live life with that kind of clarity and happiness when I was so full of judgement and suspicion.
The last 16 months have been a whirlwind of a rabbit hole. My entire life looks different, and I'm on path that I never could've predicted. Since discovering this alternate plane of thought and living, I've just been digging further into myself. This is the path I'd been thirsting so hungrily for, but never knew existed.
Something about the mystery of alternate planes of thought and reality had always had me enamored. Even though I didn't understand it, it wasn't hard for me to believe. I think growing up, there hadn't been much room for communication for how my insides felt, if that makes sense. I've always been a deep empath, and have known that life isn't as simple as just what's on the surface, what's right out in front of you, the stuff that's plain to see.
This has been a journey of uncovering all these truths about myself. Being able to delve deeper into what it means to look at and understand the Self.
And then, the best part.. Sharing it with other people interested in, curious about, or currently undergoing a similar journey. Coming together and sharing ourselves to gain perspective. Growing greater understand of our neighbors, brothers and sisters that we share this planet with. When we know and understand each other, it becomes far easier to work together to accomplish the things we want to see done. To see any great change on the outside, we have to first know ourselves internally!
As Michael A. Singer says "We may as well all be identical twins on the outside, for how different we all are on the inside."