What is mindfulness? From what I can see, mindfulness is when you begin to develop the witness or the observer self. In other words, instead of being locked inside your story, your trauma, or your ego, you begin to experience it from the outside as in, “Oh, isn’t this interesting?” If you can observe yourself from outside the mental and emotional ego structures that we normally identify as being “me,” then what does that say? One thing it says is that you are a lot bigger than you thought.
When we start going through the process of integrating the different parts of ourselves that have caused us pain—the trauma, the split-off parts, the shadow parts—if we don’t have the spaciousness to step outside of the drama, and allow the drama to just be the drama, it’s too scary, too overwhelming, and we’ll just run away and head for the hills. As a consequence, we don’t get well.
The ability to be mindful and witness what’s going on is an amazing help in the task of getting sober from addiction or in the task of getting over our depression. I believe that the emotional roots of most depression come from going through a lot of stuff and not knowing how to process it or what to do with it. When really painful events happen, we want to keep them out of awareness, because we feel if we bring them into awareness, it will be so overwhelming that it’ll just tear us apart. That’s what it feels like when the trauma starts coming back.
However, this is exactly what needs to happen. As we deepen our meditative practice, we learn that the bodily sensations that come up when painful emotions arise are just bodily sensations, and the thought forms around them, like, “My God, this is too much,” or, “This is all my fault,” are just thoughts. With mindfulness, we can say, “Okay. Thank you for sharing.” Then we bracket the thoughts and stay with the bodily-felt sense of what’s going on and just allow it to percolate and do its best. Eventually, it seems to release; maybe what was formerly in the basement of our unconscious has now become integrated into the light of consciousness, releasing all the psychic energy it took to keep the emotional pain out of our awareness.
I think that the heavier the trauma, the more powerful the defenses or the structures we build to keep our pain out of consciousness. But these split-off parts have powerful emotional charges. It drains the sum total of our emotional and spiritual energy to keep these things out of awareness. When they release, a tremendous energy is unleashed that seems almost like a chemical process of transmutation. That which was formerly causing our depression or self-loathing, hatred or avoidance, addictions or all kinds of sexual acting out or being sexually blocked, or any number of somatic illnesses, heart problems, or cancer, is no longer keeping us ill; we no longer have to spend all of our emotional energy to keep this stuff out of awareness, and when it’s actually released, the issues themselves give us new energy to be alive, to be aware, to be creative, to be in our bodies, to be in our lives, to be in our relationships, and in a way we weren’t doing before.
For some of us, this will be a very dramatic process and for some people a more gentle release process. It takes being a skillful meditator—but because the Profound Meditation Program, the actual technology itself, increases mindfulness, the ability to witness and let these things emerge, they will emerge. And they will emerge in such a way that we can effectively deal with them, which is something that traditional meditation techniques have not been able to bring about.
Adapted from iAwake Technologies’ free, weekly teleconference call on September 19, 2012.
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