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Principle #7: The Principle of Witnessing

By Bill Harris, Centerpointe Research Institute

Everyday we communicate with dozens of people using the Centerpointe program, some of whom are having a hard time with the program. Sometimes these people are angry, depressed, fearful, anxious, or confused - or are creating any number of other responses. One of the main instructions we give these people is to "watch what is happening - watch with curiosity."

This is a deceptively simple instruction that nonetheless has tremendous power. What does it mean? And how do you do it?

Being the witness, the watcher, the observer, has been a part of meditative practice for centuries, but what exactly this really means is not often explained in a way that makes down to earth practical sense.

You may be tired of hearing me harp on the subject of resistance, and how resistance creates any discomfort you may be experiencing in the program (or in life in general, for that matter). I find myself saying or writing at least fifty times a week that if you are having any discomfort in the Centerpointe program, it's because somewhere, on some level, there is resistance. Some people think I say this just to blow off people who are having a negative reaction to Holosync, so as to not have Holosync take the blame.

Not so. Not so at all. To adopt a position of power, one in which you have control over your destiny, you must take full responsibility for whatever response you are creating to whatever is happening, to whatever stimuli you are faced with. If you cannot acknowledge that you are creating your response to everything that happens to you, you are helpless, a victim of your environment.

Only when you take responsibility is there a possibility of doing something about your situation or creating something different. The main source, then, of both personal power and peace of mind is taking all responsibility for what happens (notice I didn't say "blame," I said "responsibility").

So, first, you must acknowledge that whatever your experience with Holosync or the Centerpointe program, it is YOUR response. It comes from you, from who you are. As I've said so many times, "We provide the stimulus, you provide the response." Sometimes this response comes from an unconscious part of you, one you have little or no control over (or so it seems), but it nonetheless comes from you (rather from some force outside of you, regardless of the appearance).

Why would you create a negative response? Because a part of you is in resistance to whatever is happening. What, then, is happening, and why would you resist it?

Here's the answer: Some part of you is trying to reorganize, to change, as a result of the Holosync stimulus, but you associate keeping that part the way it is with your safety in the world and, at least unconsciously, you don't feel safe letting the change happen.

Perhaps you have stayed very self-contained since you were a small child, not letting anyone get close to you because, in your family, it wasn't safe to get close. But now Holosync is breaking up the old pattern and creating a new ability to be close, intimate, and connected with others. Consciously you may want this, but since letting go of the old defense mechanism feels unsafe to that "inner child" part, you resist. The more important this old way of being seems essential to your safety to that unconscious part of you, the greater the resistance will be. And the greater the resistance, the greater the discomfort, the greater the suffering.

Whatever the discomfort, whatever the upheaval, whatever the issue, some part of you - some inner strategy that you associate with safety - is trying to grow and evolve, and another part of you is not willing to let go.

What can you do? Some people (those for whom resistance is a major tool in their survival arsenal, as was the case with me) just want to quit. "I didn't start this program to be pissed off all the time," they say to me. Or they say "I feel worse than ever. Who would want to do this?!" (Remember that the majority of people do NOT create this kind of resistance, or they create it only occasionally when something big is shifting. I don't want to give the impression to those of you trying to decide whether or not to join the program that you are looking forward to all kinds of discomfort if you join, because chances are, you aren't.)

Here is where the concept of watching, witnessing, of being the observer, comes to play.

First of all, remember that the discomfort is not necessary. It is only there because of your resistance. It is NOT there because life is unfair, or because of the situation you are in, or because of Holosync. It is there because you don't feel safe changing and are therefore resisting the change.

Some very wise people, over many centuries of slogging through their own personal mental, emotional, and spiritual change process, have discovered that if you can dissociate yourself to some degree from what is happening, if you can just step back and watch, the resistance diminishes and allows the change to take place - without the discomfort. Eureka!

All personal change approaches that work involve the creation of a greater awareness of what is happening, based on the fundamental principle that you can only continue behaviors and feelings that are self-destructive if you do them unconsciously - without awareness.

Most of us have very elaborate strategies designed to keep us unaware, but there is a very simple way to defeat them. Step back the next time you are feeling any kind of discomfort and say to yourself: "there I am, feeling angry" (or whatever), and then just notice yourself being angry. Any feeling you have will be a sensation in your body, so just notice where in your body you feel it. Notice if it stays the same or changes, if it stays in one place or moves around. Be curious. Pretend you are a scientist who has been searching the Amazon jungle for 20 years for a certain butterfly, and finally... here it is! How carefully and curiously would you watch? Bring that amount of curiosity to bear on whatever is happening for you in that moment.

Notice that you cannot be a stuck in your suffering very effectively if a part of you is watching. If you are curious and watching, it becomes harder and harder to resist. Curiosity is on the opposite side of the fence from resistance, and without resistance you cannot create suffering. Once you are successfully watching, it becomes very obvious that you could make another choice of how to respond to whatever is happening.

Several years ago, in the infancy of the Centerpointe program, a woman who was in the program called me in an extremely agitated state. "I'm freaking out!" she said. "I feel like I'm coming apart at the seams! Help!" She really was freaked out - as freaked out as a person can be and still successfully communicate with someone else.

I told her to go lie down on her bed and very carefully notice the feelings that were happening in her body, to be very curious about every sensation, and then call me back and give me a report on it. Twenty minutes later she called to tell me that (darn it) she couldn't really give me much of a report because the whole feeling had disappeared as soon as she adopted the point of view of the curious watcher. All she felt now was a kind of euphoria, as if something had shifted for her!

One of the amazing things that happens as people go through the Centerpointe program is that this "watcher" becomes more and more prominent, more and more easy to summon when needed, and soon becomes a constant companion. This is the real beginnings of what mystics call "expanded awareness." From this point, expanded awareness grows even greater, to include an increased sense of connection with the rest of the universe - but it begins with the simple ability to reserve a small part of you that just watches yourself and whatever is happening with detachment and curiosity.

The real answer to the question of what to do when you are resisting, but the resistance is unconscious, is to just watch. Stop fighting with yourself and just notice what is happening. Distress and discomfort fall away when you do this almost as if by magic.

So if resistance is your middle name, as it was mine before I went through the Centerpointe program, please take very seriously the simple instruction to "watch with curiosity." It takes some practice and some will-power because the habit of resisting is deeply ingrained and very much an automatic response, but after some practice it will become an effortless part of you, your own personal "Prince of Peace" who will help you through any situation you encounter.

And, of course, remember that daily meditation with Holosync is a very effective way to foster and strengthen this very essential part of you.

I have written here mostly about resistance as people from time to time experience it while doing the Centerpointe Program, but this principle applies to EVERYTHING. In any situation where you are uncomfortable, no matter what it is, you are resisting whatever is going on. To the degree you do that, you suffer. If you can step aside and watch yourself have whatever reaction you are having, you will find that there are other choices of how to respond, at which point you can pick the one you would like to have, rather than just be an automatic response mechanism who suffers every time a certain trigger happens. People who are spoken of as having "higher consciousness" or "expanded awareness" are those who have mastered this principle of witnessing. You can do it, too. Start practicing, and keep meditating.

Be well.

Bill Harris, Director Centerpointe Research Institute

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