“Healing” is a broad idea – one that can mean many different things to many different people. It can be related to physical healing, emotional healing, grief work, soul work, and much more; and can include modalities from psychotherapy to acupuncture, from massage therapy to chiropractic, from Rosen Method work to cranial-sacral therapy, and much more.
But there’s one element that all of this healing work shares – and that is the importance of the “witness observer.” One of the very first phrases my clients hear out of my mouth is, “Notice without judgment.” It is the first tool and skill people need on their healing journey. If they don’t understand what they’re doing, thinking, or feeling, it makes it hard to change.
“Notice without judgment” lets us get outside of ourselves for a moment. How many times a day do we make judgments about our own expeerience?
“I have tension in my back, and that’s bad.”
“I am angry with her, but shouldn’t be.”
“I gave up my seat on the bus, and that was the right thing to do.”
“I thought about not going to the party, which is lazy of me.”
“I ate cake, which is bad.”
“I got a raise, so that’s great.”
Many of us go through our day making judgments about our feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. We seek out positive states and shun negative ones. But if we can observe while suspending judgment, we can see things more clearly, and allow what is to actually be, which creates more freedom in our expression and in our existence:
“I have a warm and pulsating sensation in my lower back.”
“There’s constriction in my upper chest.”
“I feel jealous of his good fortune.”
“I feel frustrated when cars cut me off on the freeway.”
“I am angry when I remember the break-up.”
All of these sentences are examples of noticing without judgment. What is even more powerful, is to accept what is. That is, to add an “and it’s okay” to the end of the sentence:
“I am upset with myself, and it’s okay.”
“I am lonely, and it’s okay.”
“I am angry, and it’s okay.”
“I am anxious about the stock market, and it’s okay.”
“I have a sharp sensation in my neck, and it’s okay.”
This does not mean that we are condoning these things – it just means that we are accepting things as they are. To wish circumstances and personalities be different causes much suffering. What is so interesting is that there’s a big paradox that takes place – the more you allow and acknowledge thoughts, feelings, and sensations, the more quickly they pass through.
So the next time you’re having a hard day, ask yourself the following questions:
1. What am I physically feeling in my body right now?
2. What am I feeling emotionally? Are there any other emotions underneath?
3. What are my thoughts? Am I in a thought loop? Can I be interested in my thought process over my thought content?
And then do the best you can to accept those things in the moment, by adding “and it’s okay.” You may find that once you can step outside of yourself for a brief moment, you have a vantage point of more choice, compassion, and understanding. And well… if not, then you just accept your desire to be in a different place with it!