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Accessing Our Inner Observer Part A

Marcey Shapiro, MD

When we participate in our seemingly incessant internal dialogue, we may eventually wonder who, exactly, is listening? Inside our heart is a quiet, peaceful, nonjudgmental observer. Our observer is not affected by emotional ups and downs, our personal life dramas, or by the events of the external world. It is our observer, at the core of our being, that teaches us to let go of all the drama and turmoil, as we begin identify with it rather than with all the hubbub of our moment-to-moment experience and our mental chatter about it. We can learn to come into alignment with the observer, to find the freedom and peace that is always present. Merely asking the question “who is listening to all this?” starts to bring the observer into awareness. There are many effective tools to let go and be the observer who is always at the heart of you, free, serene, and peaceful. We will explore some of these tools this month, and the next

“Movies on a Screen”

Early in my process of spiritual development, I learned the idea of visualizing all of our experience, including our internal banter, as a movie on a screen. This was during the early 1970s. At the time a process called “Sensurround” that supposedly enhanced the audio experience of movies was widely advertised. The 1974 movie Earthquake was the most famous example of this audio technology. While I never saw that movie, I did think a lot about how the external world surrounds our senses. As a science fiction buff, I speculated about movies and performances that might have not only enhanced audio but also 3-D visuals as well as tactile and olfactory inputs. Clearly I was not the only one to think this way; the idea is the basic concept of the dystopian movie The Matrix.

Metaphorically, it was very easy to see “the world stage” as part of a holographic, very compelling movie. I realized that we are living in that “movie,” and that it is quite persuasive. In As You Like It, Shakespeare said something similar, in one of his most famous passages:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts.

But with a movie or a play, there is always someone watching. I speculated about that too, asking myself, “Who is watching the movie of my life?” I perceived the events of my life passing by on my personal screen. I recognized that my opinions, beliefs, observations, and judgments were all part of the movie. All my interactions, my conversations, and my activities were there, and I noticed too that there was someone who was also me, who was gently, uncritically, and peacefully observing, without categorizing or assigning meaning. This inner me knew it was all a movie. I found the inner observer quite intriguing. The observer seemed to uniformly enjoy and appreciate every show, without judgment, and with compassion. Over time, I noticed that my inner observer was not limited in location to my physical body—it could be “bigger” than me—and I began to play with that concept too.

Remembering that this inner observer exists is deeply comforting. There is a coming-home feeling in noticing the presence of the inner peace that listens non-critically. I believe this observer is our spirit, our divinity, and our deepest inner sense of knowing. It forms a space in and around each of us, in which we are always invited to reside in wholeness and love.

So try this for yourself. See if you can imagine that your life is a play, a holographic movie, or a vivid illusion. Step back, throughout your day, and “watch the movie” of your life. Notice your roles. Observe your responses. See if you this helps you locate your inner observer.

Excerpted from Freedom From Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Emotional Well Being by Marcey Shapiro, MD, published by North Atlantic Books 1/14/14, copyright © 2014 by Marcey Shapiro. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

Stay tuned for more thoughts from Marcey Shapiro, MD,  on “Transforming Health” and Heart Centered Living

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