When I say “watching”, I’m talking about inner watching. I usually define watching for the purpose of emotional self-mastery as: Identifying without judgement.
Identifying what? Thoughts, feelings (including physical pain and emotions), and beliefs. It’s totally different than mentally examining or analyzing such things, because that would naturally involve a lot of judgement. It’s not easy to stop the judgement, because that’s what our minds are habituated to do. So, it requires getting out of the mind, out of the thoughts and ideas about myself, and into the feeling.
Now, most people have very strong beliefs that negative feelings are “bad” and positive feelings are “good,” so dropping into the feeling can be quite tricky. It’s almost instinctual to try to escape the feeling with some sort of avoiding mechanism, whether it’s just hopping right back into the mind about a feeling, or avoiding it altogether with entertainment, alcohol, food, friends, whatever. Or, some people just endlessly react to the feeling with more emotion and more pain, which often involves some kind of judgement and blame of self or others and now we are just heading further and further away from watching.
The problem is that we identify with our feelings too much. This may be conscious or unconscious, but it’s engrained in each of us and educated by generations. The bottom line is that we have lost our true identity and we keep wrongly believing that we are our thoughts, we are our emotions, and we are all of the information that we have accumulated inside from a lifetime of experience. This is precisely why watching is so important – we need to separate ourselves again and again and again from those false identities. We need to endlessly make space from them, so we can remind ourselves of who we really are and look again at ourselves, our circumstances and all of our issues with new eyes and new perspective. In order to not live our lives as slaves of our false inner programs, we must cultivate the ability to “watch” ourselves – to observe ourselves from a distance. Through this, we begin our road to freedom.
However, as hard as it is, feeling is a mandatory prerequisite for watching. If one cannot feel, one cannot watch. We need to feel everything, so that we can watch honestly, so that we can come to accept ourselves fully. It requires some courage. Courage to face the painful feeling head on. One needs a fierce determination for it and a wisdom that knows, “This feeling is not me, it’s just what I have inside.”
These days, I am personally challenging myself to face what I call, “the intolerable feeling.” It sounds scary, right? But actually the more I practice, the more I enjoy it! What do I need to be afraid of my own feelings for, anyway? No matter how old they are, how deep they feel, what kind of wounds they stir, how dark they may seem – they are not real. I am confident about this. I just have not yet mastered them all. Therefore, the deeper ones that I haven’t been able to take a complete look at yet, still bite me sometimes. And sometimes their bite is worse than others. But again, these are ghost bites. Old memories. Old beliefs. Wrong perceptions. They are not the truth of me. They do not speak of my true worth and value. And I’m pretty tired out from a lifetime of giving them such a power…. Aren’t you?
So, let’s do it. Let’s face the intolerable feeling. Once you get good at sitting in that uncomfortable place, you come to find that the dark clouds do eventually part. There is a clear and bright sun of truth behind them. In simplest terms, this brings a great sense of relief and joy and here’s that word again: FREEDOM.
Recovering our true worth and value is the key to solving so many of our issues. To do so, we must train ourselves to have the strength to feel our feelings accurately and watch them without judging them. We need to see them without reacting to them, face them without running away. I know it’s not easy. If it was, I wouldn’t be writing a blog post about it 😉 Don’t expect easy or comfortable! Overcoming oneself and developing self-mastership involves quite a bit of discomfort ….with so much reward at the end! It’s just like strengthening your muscles. It takes practice. Daily practice. Even hourly and moment to moment practice to stay aware, awake, and alert about oneself. Let’s catch our inner ghosts before they catch us 🙂 One tip I have is: Try not to be hard on yourself in the process! Keep a more enjoyable perspective such as, “Hm, this is an interesting thing that I do!” And have fun solving it through sinking in and getting really real with your feelings. Don’t identify yourself with them – they’re just feelings! They are not who you really are. If you need a reminder of who you really are, look up at the blue sky. Sit next to a tree. Listen to the flow of a mountain river.
We are nature. That knowing will become your vitamin, giving your Soul the strength to stand up again and again.
There is nothing to fear, let’s give it a try. If we fail, we’ll try again! Every moment is a new moment. Let’s cultivate our watching power.