How to Find Your Deepest Truth and Freedom Through the Practice of Witnessing

What does witnessing mean and why is it essential for our inner peace? We have been exploring how understanding is the first step to letting go of tendencies or habits that cause us pain. Witnessing is the vital second step. In witnessing, we can notice the way our tendencies continue, without getting upset about them. This then loosens our mind’s grip on the tendency so that we can let it go.

Witnessing is born from the understanding that our senses do not contain the full picture of reality. Our perceptions are temporary, as they change with circumstance and are subject to our moods and whims.

Through witnessing practice, we meet the moment as it is, without overlaying a perspective of how we want it to be. We come in contact with the deeper unchanging truth beyond our senses.

Observing is not witnessing. In observing, we are still attached to what we experience, and the attachment takes the form of a running narrative.

Witness a Flower

For example, when we observe a flower, we see it for its colours and size and empirical qualities. Our minds may come up with stories for it, such as a memory of similar flowers in a garden behind our childhood home, or getting flowers like it from a past love.

Through this, emotions related to our memories – nostalgia, grief, resentment—may arise. We then project those associations onto the flower, which actually has nothing to do with them.

When we witness, no narrative accompanies the moment. As we witness a flower, we would meet the flower’s essence as it is, and be there in harmony with it. We can note its colour, shape, smell, but we have no story around them. The flower simply is, and so are we.

The same is true of any tendency we have. We can witness it with the presence we would bring to the flower, without going into stories like “Oh no! This again? I shouldn’t have this tendency” or “But I really want that chocolate cake…” We can simply be.

It is easy to confuse witnessing with being numbed out, indifferent or disconnected. But in witnessing, we are fully present. We rest in the deeper substratum beneath our perceptions.

When this happens, life goes from monochrome to technicolor. We feel more connected, more alive, more engaged with it all, because we are no longer bound by our way of seeing things. Even situations that once were painful for us become light and effervescent. Through witnessing comes tremendous spacious vitality.

Witnessing is not paralysis. It is an active state of consciousness, receptive to that which is. In this, we receive the energy of grace, a force beyond human will. Witnessing feels rooted, vital and expansive. It is a consciousness muscle we can develop. The more we do so, the more freedom we experience, because the less hold our habitual mind will have on us.

Witness Your Mind

Start your witnessing practice today. Take a few minutes each morning and evening to come to a neutral place, where you can allow yourself just to be.

  • Sit on something solid like a bench, chair or the floor, with your spine straight. Breathe in and out for a few minutes. Focus on your breath. Let yourself settle into being right here and now, exactly where you are.
  • Allow your spine to take root through your seat, feeling the weight of your body and your connection to the ground. Sense the crown of your head floating upward and notice your connection to the cosmos. Let your spine feel like a neutral conduit of energy between these two points. Breathe in and out.
  • If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. When you breathe in, inwardly say “In.” When you breathe out, inwardly say, “Out.” No big effort. No drama. Just one breath at a time, in and out.
  • Should you notice thoughts arise, acknowledge them, while remaining neutral. Let them be there with you, rather than getting pulled into them. Welcome them as though they had just joined you in your inner living room. They may take a seat beside you. Or they could quickly head for the door. Either way, it does not matter. You continue sitting, breathing in and out.
  • Make room for it all, without getting entangled in any of it. Rest in your breathing and allow yourself to expand into the now.

We will take a pause from journaling work this week so that you can simply practice witnessing without the temptation to start writing down your observations. As the desire to narrate arises, notice it. Witness it too.

From my heart to yours,
Parvati

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WHY YOGA IN THE NIGHTCLUB

I am often asked what inspired me to bring yogic expression into the club scene. I answer easily. Yoga In the Nightclub is a natural expression of who I am as a musical artist and dedicated yogini. Yoga is not a physical practice but a way of life. It is about learning to be present in all one does, to see the divine here, now, in this moment. As such, yoga is everywhere. It is about feeling connected to something much greater than our limited ego or will. It is about being in service to life, feeling interconnected to that very life force. Yoga In The Nightclub is a celebration of life and a reminder that we can find awakened presence everywhere.

Yoga in the West is mostly known as a series of bendy physical exercises. Yet there is much more to it than fitness. Yoga’s systematic breath and body exercises, designed to clear the subtle channels in our energy system, prepare us for meditation, through which we may experience a life inspired by our interconnected, multidimensional true nature. Our body, that once was seen as “mine”, is no longer our identity, but a gift on loan from the divine. We care for it, but we are not attached to it. The practice of yoga offers us the opportunity to experience the transmutation of matter into pure light, embody the multidimensional and rest in the eternal.

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WE ARE ALL CONNECTED

Hatha yoga, the physical practice of yoga, is just one of many aspects of yoga, which range from selfless service to astrology and prayer. The Sanskrit word “yoga” most simply translates to “union”, implying that the practice of any yoga will bring together our perceived sense of separateness. As a whole, yoga is an ancient science of life. It is a practical method of shedding excess and bringing us back from the self-delusion of separation from the divine so that we may realize our inherent interconnection to and ultimate oneness with it.

As we begin to understand that yoga is everywhere, we come to see how we are all connected in vast ways far beyond the limitations of our personal will and ego. What I do affects you, and vice versa. We are one earth family. At the heart of it all, we share the same heartbeat. Breathe to be. We are one.

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AWAKENED LIVING

When we are open, life blossoms, just as a flower opens to welcome the morning sun.  We see that the sun, though it is millions of light years away, has a tender yet powerful relationship with the flower, as do the rain and the clouds. From this perspective we see that we are part of the whole. Life is a symphonic masterpiece with which, when we are open, we are completely resonant.

As we come to understand our oneness, we can revel in it with wonder and joy. We can consider in awe how immense it all is. We can let go of the idea that an illusory, isolated sense of self could possibly be in control, and open to an exquisite unfolding of life in absolute perfection. Our actions become not about “me” but about the whole. Each moment is integrated within the whole. No one decision is separate.

When we begin to see that each decision we make affects not just ourselves but everyone and everything on the planet, we act with more compassion. When we have more compassion, we realize the impact of our actions and we naturally want less and practice more kindness. As stewards of the Earth, we each are called to learn to live in harmony with ourselves, each other and our planet. We all breathe the same air and live on the same living organism, our planet. Varied in race and creed, we are all one family, children of the same mother, the planet Earth.

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THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRACE

In each moment, there is infinite grace. By becoming more conscious as we practice yoga on the mat, at work, at play or in the nightclub, we let go of the unnecessary and develop greater internal spaciousness which blooms throughout our lives. In this space new life and possibilities arise.

As we rest our awareness on the simple purity and grace of the breath, we realize - we are alive! We let go of wanting things from the future and the past and open to what is here and now. We feel as vast as the sky and rooted in the richness of this moment.

When we “breathe to be”, we understand our interconnection. We see that we are not the doers but a part of the whole, the same energy that is in the flowers and in the stars. We know that our essence is divine - from which we have come, to which we return.

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PARVATI'S NEW SINGLE - MARCH 2016
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SHARE YOUR YOGA
I am light!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gone, gone beyond. Oh what awakening!
Gone, gone beyond. Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi swaha
I am the light, liquid gold light
I am in delight! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!
I am light, in delight!
I am light, dancing through the night!

I am the light (gate gate), liquid gold light (paragate)
I am in delight (gate gate) transforming the night (paragate)

Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Oh what awakening! (paragate) (I am)
Gone, gone beyond (gate gate)! Swaha!

I am light, dancing in delight
I am light, dancing through the night
I am light, in delight
I am light, dancing through the night

I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (gate gate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light (paragate)
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light
I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light, I am light

I am light!

© 2015 Parvati Devi
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