Blog Explanation

This blog brings together content that is noticeable, important or otherwise interesting from a human givens point of view.

Friday, 13 April 2012

A nice first-person account about discovering the Observing Self from a forum

"I'm currently reading a book that I had read a little while back. I decided to read it again and go through the exercises since my anxiety levels have been high. I wanted to point out some things that were mentioned in the book concerning out "thinking self" verses our "observing self". I think it would be helpful to others here, and may even help with those who experience health anxiety as well.

To sum it up, your thinking self is the part of you that thinks, plans, compares, judges, daydreams, analyzes...etc. Your observing self however, does not think and is responsible for attention, awareness and focus. Your observing self can pay attention to your thoughts but it cannot produce them. Both, however, are two distinctive aspects of what we commonly refer to as "the mind".

The example given in the book to describe this, is to imagine you are playing tennis. If you are focused on the game, then your attention (observing self) is directed at the ball. Now imagine that while you are playing, you start having different thoughts...I better hit this...I hope I don't get hit in the face...etc. Those thoughts would be your thinking self. Now, if you were to start paying attention to your thinking self, then your observed self would be distracted from the game, as it would now be paying too much attention to your thinking self and your performance in the tennis match would now be affected. (I hope that makes sense!)

So, we really have two aspects of our minds at play, both of which interact and communicate with one another every day for all of us. Your observing self is aware of what you are thinking or feeling at any given moment and your thinking self (as described in the book) is....

"like a radio playing in the background. Most of the time, it is the doom and gloom show, broadcasting 24 hours a day...reminding us of bad things from the past...warning of future dangers...and giving updates of all that's wrong with us".

What we need to realize though is that the radio will never turn off and the more we try to tune out the "broadcast" or turn it off, the worse it gets. The thing is though, that it isn't only those of us with anxiety who have these crazy thoughts broadcasting 24/7 in our minds. We do, however, react to these thoughts in an unhealthy manner. And that is where your observing self comes into play.

One needs to practice techniques where the observing self will not show these unhelpful thoughts from our thinking selves much attention.  Actively trying to just ignore the thoughts doesn't work. may work actually, but only for a short while, until you succumb to the same thoughts later down the road. The point is to teach you how to gain the ability to let the thoughts from your thinking self come and go as they please, while acting on those thoughts, ideas, or what have you, that are helpful, and acknowledging the thoughts that are unhelpful then turning your focus/attention i.e...your observing self, elsewhere.

I was doing some of the breathing exercises recommended in the book. The suggestion is to take 10 deep can start with a lower slowly as you can. As your doing the breathing, focus on the movement of your body as you inhale and again when you exhale. (the rise and fall of the ribcage, expansion of your lungs, etc.) Try to focus completely on only these exercises. While you are doing this try to let any thoughts that pop into your mind (which they will) come and go as they please while continuing to keep your focus/observing self on the breathing exercises...which is much easier said than done!

When doing this exercise, it allows one to see how easily we can get roped into certain thoughts, while letting others just pass on by. I also found it to be very helpful in recognizing just how damn crazy my thinking self can be at times! Lol."

Robert Ornstein: The Evolution of Consciousness

Pat Williams on story and metaphor