Everything is an escape. There are the obvious tricks we all know and knowingly apply to our boredom and/or fear: drugs, alcohol, sex, TV, internet, etc. Even meditation techniques can act as an escape, a drug, a numbing agent.
For the past several years, I have benefited from witnessing “the witness.” It was immensely helpful. Prior, I had identified totally with my bouts of depression and anxiety. I was young and did not have the life experience to assure me I’d ever be liberated from those states of despair and drama.
After years of meditation practice, I reached a point where I could disassociate with an emotion even as the emotion was occurring. For example, if I was in the woes of heartbreak, wailing with desolation, I could realize in that moment: “This too shall pass.” I witnessed my emotions, happy and sad, irate and excited, and all the rest, and found my center by breathing and observing the storm fade sooner or later.
Only very recently have I begun to move beyond the witness. I am, instead, striving to embody emotion. To feel it, explore it, sit with it. To infuse it with compassion. To know that it is natural and healthy. To let go of the storyline about the emotion and why I am feeling it. Rather than label each passing experience as is taught in certain techniques of insight meditation (“thinking,” “judging,” “worrying,” “planning,” etc.), I experience each without analysis. It feels rather contradictory to the witness, in fact. You dissolve the witness. As Krishnamurti points out,
“So long as the experiencer verbalizes the feeling, the experience, he separates himself from it and acts upon it; such action is an artificial, illusory action. But if there is no verbalization, then the experiencer and the thing experienced are one. That integration is necessary and has to be radically faced.”
The witness served her purpose, and I thank her for bringing me to this point; I could not have gotten here without moving through that essential phase.
But now it’s blissfully clear: there is no separation between “you” and “your feelings.” You let life happen, you stay open, you feel what you feel. This is empowering. This is enlightening.