We need to develop awareness of how we use the body and the mind. To do this we need to be vigilant in how we use our attention for observation. Let’s boil this down to some basics. In reality, we are one integrated whole: a bodymind. Yet, it’s helpful to investigate the parts, the body and the mind, separately and then reintegrate them.

We need to understand how the process of observation fits into the learning process. Learning is a process of converting intellectual knowledge into experiential knowledge. We think (intellectual) to prepare and do (experiential) to act, thinking with the mind and doing with the body. To observe the learning process, then, is to observe the quality of the mind’s intellectual thinking, and the quality of the body’s experiential doing.

We’re never totally just intellectually thinking with the mind, to the exclusion of the body, or vice versa. When we observe the body’s experiential doing, the mind is also present. Meaning, the mind is present, but intellectual thinking is diminished. Likewise, when we observe the mind’s intellectual thinking, the body is also present, yet it’s at rest. Its level of experiential engagement is diminished. To observe effectively, there needs to be a shift of attention toward the mind or the body, otherwise attention will be diffused and limit observation.

To observe the body, we focus attention on the quality of how it moves, how it breathes, its posture, and its eye contact. To maintain objectivity, attention must be unencumbered by the mind’s tendency to think and interpret what is being observed. Mental interpretations, such as judgments of good and bad, distract attention from observing what the body is doing. For instance, “bad posture” doesn’t tell us how much we’re out of balance.

To observe the mind, we focus attention on the quality of its thoughts, the quantity of its thoughts, and its inner dialogue. To maintain objectivity, attention must be unencumbered by stress caused by the body being engaged in action. Physical action distracts attention from observing the quality of the thinking process. For instance, we may not recognize wishful thinking when we’re under stress.

It’s a cyclical process. Focusing attention on the quality of the mind’s thinking process gives us options to act out with the body. Conversely, focusing attention on the quality of the body’s doing process gives us new information to think about. The important point, whether we choose to observe the body or the mind, is to observe as objectively as possible.

Observing objectively, of course, is the challenge. There are limitations to how we think with the mind and how we move with the body. We’ll get into those limitations in future lessons. For now, we need to understand how to intentionally direct the observation process. We begin doing this by not identifying with the body and the mind as something we are. In other words, we have a mind that does our thinking for us and we have a body that takes action for us. Removing the body and mind identifications helps us observe more objectively.

Intent, however, directs the observation process. Intention is attention focused in the direction of a choice. We choose to focus our attention to observe. This is a conscious choice not wishful thinking. By setting specific intentions we are able to notice more quickly when attention is distracted and redirect it. This is really how we observe: observation is a continual process of redirecting attention to intent. This process is what develops awareness.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kyle Stapp

    Beautiful. Becoming a witness is key to fulfilling ones own potential, plus if man is ever going to fill its collective potential we all need to find the witness within.

    Seeing more people turning their energy, efforts, gossips, etc towards themselves would be a welcome sight.

    Keep that fire burning Arno and keep passing it along!

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