While this title seems a bit erudite and formal, the subject is intensely personal. It’s personal in the sense that, in order to be a conscious witness for someone else, one first must be a conscious witness to oneself. And tapping into this ability requires developing one’s own witness consciousness. Okay, a bit of a word game happening here, but take a deep breath and allow yourself to appreciate how this might work.
First there must be something to witness in you. This may be layers of thoughts, emotions, physical sensations or whatever is happening now for you even when you don’t know exactly what it is, when it’s not more than a felt sense in your body-mind. Doesn’t it make sense that you would have to dive in and explore the inner caves of your self to see what’s there, so that at least you might be able to give it a name. Naming is an important step in connecting to witness consciousness. It needn’t be the “right” name as long as it is a name that gives some context to the feeling, thought or sensation.
All of us are familiar with the experience of noticing some irritation or disturbance just below the surface but not understanding where it’s coming from or what it’s really about. So, it simmers, coming to a slow (or not so slow) boil, and then it’s out there in the world demanding to be seen, heard and felt. These experiences seldom retire into the shadows and disappear – or, if they do, it’s with the intention to return at a later date – often bigger and stronger than before.
The process that allows us to name what is happening is witness consciousness. This relatively simple act of stepping back and disengaging from what holds our attention also helps remove us from the center of the storm. Our perspective becomes clearer. Our awareness is focused on the issue at hand but isn’t attached to it. We are able to appreciate the feelings, thoughts, sensations for what they are and for the fact that they are not the whole of who we are. Then the shoulders relax and the tension in muscles dissipates, along with the sense of forward flung momentum that may also have been present. What’s left is a clearer view of who we are, right here, right now. From this new perspective, it can be so much easier to know what our next step needs to be.
How then to apply this witness consciousness to the act of being a conscious witness for another person? Perhaps the most visible way is to come from a place of knowing the truth of who you are, without attachment to your own thoughts, feelings, sensations. In other words, show up with clear vision of what you have named for yourself so that it doesn’t create an agenda for what you might want to see or to happen for the other person.
The next time you are called to be authentically present for someone, bring awareness to your ability to say, “I can let go of wanting him to be like me or be different than he is. I can be accepting of who he is right now.” Then notice how it can be to offer appreciation and support as a conscious witness while standing in your own witness consciousness.