The Power of Witnessing (How Curiosity Can Change Your Life)

Issue #415 – Monday, March 18, 2024

By Bill Harris

Everyday we communicate with dozens of people who are using the Centerpointe program.

Some are having a hard time with the program, and with life in general (usually for the same reason). Some are angry, depressed, fearful, anxious, or confused…

...or are creating any number of other responses. One of the main instructions we give these people is to “watch what is happening—watch with curiosity.”

This is a deceptively simple instruction that nonetheless has tremendous power. What does it mean? And how do you do it?

old couple birdwatching in forest

Being the witness, the watcher, the observer, has been a part of meditative practice for centuries…

...but what this really means is not often explained in a way that makes down-to-earth practical sense.

You may be tired of hearing me harp on the subject of resistance, and how resistance creates any discomfort you may be experiencing in your life. I find myself saying or writing at least fifty times a week…

...that if you are having any discomfort in the Centerpointe program or in life in general, it’s because somewhere, on some level, there is resistance.

Power of Responsibility

To adopt a position of power, one in which you have control over your destiny… must take full responsibility for whatever response you are creating to whatever is happening. If you cannot acknowledge that you are creating your response to everything that happens, you are helpless, a victim of your environment.

Only when you take responsibility is there a possibility of doing something about your situation or creating something different. The main source, then…

...of both personal power and peace of mind is taking all responsibility for what happens.

So, first, you must acknowledge that, whatever your experience with Holosync or with life in general, it is your response. It comes from you, from some aspect of who you are.

Stimulus & Response

As I’ve said so many times, “Life may provide the stimulus, but you provide the response.” Sometimes this response comes from an unconscious part of you… you have little or no control over (or so it seems), but, nonetheless, it comes from you (rather from some force outside of you, regardless of the appearance).

Why would you create a negative response? Because a part of you is in resistance to whatever is happening. Why, then, would someone resist it?

Because some part of you is trying to reorganize, to change, whether as a result of the Holosync® stimulus or something else that pushes you to grow…

...but you associate the old way with your safety and, at least unconsciously, don’t feel safe letting the change happen.

Whatever the discomfort, whatever the upheaval, whatever the issue, some part of you—some inner strategy that you associate with safety is trying to grow and evolve, and another part of you is not willing to let go.

Here is where the concept of watching, witnessing, of being the observer, comes to play. If resistance is the poison, witnessing is the antidote.

Some very wise people, over many centuries of experience with the process of personal mental, emotional, and spiritual change…

...have discovered that if you can just step back and watch whatever is happening, with no agenda for what does or does not happen, the resistance disappears.

And, any changes that are trying to take place can happen without suffering.

Awareness Is the Key

All personal change approaches that work involve the creation of a greater awareness of what is happening, based on the fundamental principle that you can only continue behaviors and feelings that are self-destructive…

...if you do them unconsciously—without awareness. Most of us have very elaborate strategies designed to keep us unaware, but there is a very simple way to defeat them.

If you step back the next time you are feeling any kind of discomfort, and say to yourself, “There I am, feeling angry” (or whatever it is you are feeling)...

...and then just notice yourself being angry, without trying to stop it or change it, without any agenda for what should happen.

Any feeling you have will be a sensation in your body, so just notice where in your body you feel it. Notice if it stays the same or changes, if it stays in one place or moves around.

Become genuinely curious about it. Pretend you are a scientist who has been searching the Amazon jungle for 20 years for a certain butterfly, and it is!

How carefully and curiously would you watch? Bring that amount of curiosity to bear on whatever is happening for you in that moment.

The Curious, Neutral Witness

Whatever uncomfortable feelings you are having, you’ve probably been having them off and on for a long time. But I would be willing to bet that you have never really watched them with curiosity… find out what is really happening and how you create them. You’re so busy trying to make them stop, or blaming them on someone else, or analyzing them, or in some other way becoming unconscious about them.

Notice that you cannot be stuck in your suffering very effectively if a part of you is watching. If you are curious and watching, it becomes harder and harder to resist. Curiosity is on the opposite side of the fence from resistance…

...and without resistance you cannot create suffering. Once you are successfully watching, it becomes very obvious that you could make another choice of how to respond to whatever is happening.

On the other hand, if you are watching with an agenda—to stop the feeling—you’re not really watching. To be the witness, you must have no agenda other than to watch and be curious.

Some personal growth teachers will tell you to “love the feeling,” or “embrace the feeling,” or “surrender to the feeling.” What they really mean is to stop resisting it. And the way to do that is to become genuinely curious about it and watch.

Stop fighting with yourself and just notice what is happening. Distress and discomfort fall away when you do this, almost as if by magic.

So, if resistance is your middle name, as it was mine before I went through the Centerpointe program, please take very seriously the simple instruction to “watch with curiosity.”

It takes some practice and some willpower because the habit of resisting is deeply ingrained and very much an automatic response. But after some practice… will become effortless.

In any situation where you are uncomfortable, no matter what it is, you are resisting people, things, or situations being the way they are. To the degree you do that… suffer.

If you can step aside and watch yourself have whatever reaction you are having, you will find that there are other choices of how to respond…. which point you can pick the one you would like to have, rather than just being an automatic response mechanism who suffers every time you are stimulated in a certain way.

People with “higher consciousness” or “expanded awareness” are those who have mastered this principle of witnessing.

You can do it, too. Start practicing, and keep meditating.

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Wise Words

Day 5. As soon as the recording started I fell into a deep relaxed sleep. When I woke the recording was over, and time felt like it had flown by in seconds. The rest of the day planning and decision making came easily. This is unusual and very welcome. I also feel a lot more confident about the work and challenges I need to accomplish…Thank you for this five day opportunity. The experience has given me hope that growth and change are possible. May all who have participated share this blessing. Thank you, Centerpointe!
~Nan W.
5-Day Challenge Participant

In Case You Missed It - Listen to It!

Check out our audio recording of the Mind Power essay:

By Marc Gilson
February 26, 2024

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