You should step back and investigate. How do you step back? It is not a matter of sitting there ignoring everything, stiffly repressing the body and mind so that they are like earth and wood – that will never do any good. When you want to step back, if there are any sayings you do not understand, or stories you do not comprehend, they are then right before you. Step back and see for yourself why you do not understand.

Become An Observer

The first condition to move backward is to move within. And, to one who has moved within, neither is there any difficulty, nor danger nor trouble in moving backward.

In short, moving backward simply means – becoming the observer – means taking a Step Back from your mind and becoming aware of your thinking patterns and how you’re responding to things.

How do you learn to become an observer of your mind?

Becoming an observer is a bit like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the water flow:

Become an observer of the currents of thought that flow through your consciousness. Just like someone sitting by the side of a river watching the river flow by, sit by the side of your mind and watch.

Or just as someone sits in the forest and watches a line of birds flying by, just sit and watch. Or the way someone watches the rainy sky and the moving clouds, you just watch the clouds of thoughts moving in the sky of your mind. The flying birds of thoughts, the flowing river of thoughts in the same way, silently standing on the bank, you simply sit and watch.

It is the same as if you are sitting on the bank, watching the thoughts flowing by. Don’t do anything, don’t interfere, don’t stop them in any way. Don’t repress in any way. If there is a thought coming don’t stop it, if it is not coming don’t try to force it to come. You are simply to be an observer….

Once you learn to treat your mind like a river you flowing by, you’ll begin to understand that you and your thoughts are truly separate: In that simple observation, you will see and experience that your thoughts and you are separate – because you can see that the one who is watching the thoughts is separate from the thoughts, different from them. And you become aware of this, a strange peace will envelop you because you will not have any more worries.

You can be in the midst of all kinds of worries but the worries will not be yours. You can in the midst of many problems but the problems will not be yours. You can be surrounded by thoughts but you will not be the thoughts…

And if you become aware that you are not your thoughts, the life of these thoughts will begin to grow weaker, they will begin to become more and more lifeless. The power of your thoughts lies in the fact that you think they are yours. When you are arguing with someone you say, “My thought is”. No thought is yours. All thoughts are different from you, separate from you. You just be a witness to them.

Learning from the story Step Back: Become An Observer

Experience Learning

Observing the mind is also known as meditation

If you’re looking to practice the art of becoming an observer of the mind, then look no further than practicing meditation.

The main goal of true meditation is becoming a witness of the mind. In fact, he even says that meditation is another name for observing.

Meditation starts by being separate from the mind, by being a witness. That is the only way of separating yourself from anything. If you are looking at the light, naturally one thing is certain: you are not the light, you are the one who is looking at it. If you are watching the flowers, one thing is certain: you are not the flower, you are the watcher.

Watching is the key to meditation. Watch your mind. Don’t do anything – no repetition of mantra, no repetition of the name of god – just watch whatever the mind is doing. Don’t disturb it, don’t prevent it, don’t repress it; don’t do anything at all on your part. You just be a watcher, and the miracle of watching is meditation. As you watch, slowly your mind becomes empty of thoughts; but you are not falling asleep, you are becoming more alert, more aware.

As the mind becomes completely empty, your whole energy becomes aflame of awakening. This flame is the result of meditation. So you can say meditation is another name of watching, witnessing, observing – without any judgment, without any evaluation. Just by watching, you immediately get out of the mind.

Becoming an observer of the mind is a different state of mind. It’s taking a Step Back from your mind and observing it without judging what’s happening in your mind.

Understanding the Observing Mind and the Thinking Mind

A perfect way to begin understanding the art of observing the mind is to look to Zen philosophy’s idea of two minds.

In Zen, they commonly refer to the “Thinking Mind” and the “Observing Mind”.

The first thing we need to realize is that if the Thinking Mind is a car then we don’t have full control of the vehicle.

For instance, if I told you right now to NOT think about a pink elephant, you probably still will.

What happened here was that your Observing Mind was watching your Thinking Mind picture pink elephants, even though you were telling your Thinking Mind not to.

The Thinking Mind is always producing thoughts and if we aren’t accustomed to using our Observing Mind, then we get ourselves lost in our Thinking Mind.

This is the same for emotions, such as anxiety and stress, and it is where a lot of suffering comes from.

We can’t help but get sucked into the negative emotions, rather than taking a step back and observing them.

A lot of our psychological stress comes about because we don’t recognize the difference between the Thinking Mind and Observing Mind.

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