The Observer Technique
Imagine a pool, beautiful and blue with its colors reflected in the morning sun. You’re fully submerged at its epicenter and slowly falling deeper into the water. There’s no end to the pool’s depths, and you never stop drowning. There’s no finality of death, and no rescue.
Imagine watching this ordeal unfold without being affected by it, the chlorine-treated waters holding on to an illusionary version. At the same time, you stand at the precipice unencumbered by the thought of an outcome. An Observer, basking in the vitamin-rich morning glow. Free to walk away. Free to look for the best solution to save this imaginary character. Free to seek help. Free to do nothing.
I often have this grotesque description of myself inundated by my life’s problems. Fighting back the waters from taking me into the light, and yet hoping for the battle to end.
Our challenges can sometimes feel overwhelming to the degree where we become consumed under the weight of it. The prefrontal cortex lights up like a Christmas tree in predicting possible outcomes and endlessly searching for solutions that we forget how to just be.
Into the eye of the tornado
One of the scariest things about tornadoes is how it moves like a creature with cognition. Undulating and twisting dust and debris high into its enormous and ominous top with bolts of electricity flying around like stars on the head in a tom and Jerry scene. It often defies predictions, moving with a mind of its own and at the same time in a thoughtless pattern, damaging everything within its path like a vengeful monster wreaking havoc.
Seemingly hard to believe that in the middle of this disastrous sequence lies peace, a calm in the middle of the storm.
Image source: https://www.compensationcafe.com/2011/10/compensation-in-the-eye-of-the-tornado.html
The observer technique paints a picture of oneself amid problems yet unaffected by them, calmly watching the ebbs and flows and deciding how to act. The best decisions are born out of non-reactivity, and this is the peak of prowess available to the observer.
The observer applies a concept known as non-striving while watching discomfort wax and wane.
The observer does not hit the accelerator restlessly, seeking a solution to their circumstances.
The observer quietly watches and listens as things unfold.
“Untangle and be free.” – Shinzen Young
The observer in that moment is FREE.
How can you be an observer of the problems and difficulties that exist in your life?