A central theme to meditation is the notion that ‘we are not our thoughts’. New students and meditation practitioners often report their inability to switch off. So are we then trying to switch off our thoughts? I don’t believe so.
As humans we go about our days driven by stories of ‘I, Me and Mine’, thus the idea of removing our selves and our identities from our thoughts may at first seem like an insurmountable task. If we are not our thoughts, then who or even what are we? Many of us are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, employers and employees to name but a few roles and identities. Practices like the observer mode afford us the possibility of parking these stories and experiences and just sitting.
As we sit, we scan our bodies, then we practice becoming aware of the breath freely flowing in and out. For me an easier way to view the practice of observer, is to imagine removing myself from the scene and watching my body sitting, held and supported, whilst I focus on the inhale and the exhale. Thus I treat my thoughts the same way, noticing them flow in and out like the breath. We can choose to neither attach to any thoughts nor escape from them, watching them all with equanimity just as we watch the breath, without altering or changing anything, held and supported as we sit.
Observer mode provides a welcome space from the often overwhelming conflation of thoughts about our everyday, instead opening up the possibility for creative and intuitive insights to flow freely, influencing and informing our everyday lives.