“You can observe a lot just by watching.” – Yogi Berra
People Observation: Expand Your Mind Power
“I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by. Spend the whole day watching people. I miss that.” – Barack Obama
One of my favorite things to do is people watching. I love going to my local coffee shop just to observe the environment, but the way In which I observe people is not how other people usually watch others. I make it a meditation and an exercise in self observation.
Ultimately how we process the world is through our senses. Impressions are food for our mind, for our psyche. We constantly receive impressions of the world around us and our senses interpret that information. So basically our view of reality is always just an approximation to it. The image or sensation is not the thing, as Immanuel Kant in his “Critique of Pure Reason” makes quite clear. Without your sense of vision, 80 percent of reality would not exist for you. You are the cause to how you interpret the world, in other words, you “are” the world.
So when I watch people, I do it while I am watching my internal world in a totally passive and detached yet alert manner. As my eyes receive the first impression of someone I sit back and just watch what arises in my inner space. It is so interesting to see all the thoughts and moods that each person triggers. Just watching a baby play makes me feel that simple innocence that exists within all of us and it feels lovely.
People are mirrors to everything that exists within us. They will help you see your anger, jealousy, love, compassion. No one is beautiful, it is you who makes them that. It is very interesting to explore what each person will help you discover within your psyche. They help you see all the associations of your previous memories, they bring your conditioning’s to the surface. By watching others your actually watching yourself, because after all your the cause and source to how you feel. But when your focus is solely focused to the external world, you see the external world as the cause to all your experiences. If someone comes and insults me, it will only affect me if I accept his insult, if I don’t accept it, it remains with him.
Typically how people view the world is one pointed. They look out into the world and become identified to whatever impression their attention goes to. For example, you see a flower (the observed), your attention goes to the flower, you then become Identified to it. Being identified means you forget who is actually watching the flower (the observer). You need to learn to develop a divided two way attention. As you observe the flower half your attention is on the flower and the other half of your attention is on the watcher (your inner subjective consciousness). You learn to observe yourself while remembering yourself. What I am trying to convey is very subtle and a drastically different way of existing and being in the world. You realize that your attention creates your world. Wherever your attention is, is the world.
The more grounded and centered you become in your inner witness (watcher), the more you see your life like a movie. You watch your life play out on the screen of the universal consciousness. Because after all, there really is no “out there” out there. If you are a meditator eventually you realize there is no inner and no outer.
Observing People at The Mall
Next time you are in a public place, bring your attention to your breathing, this grounds you to the moment. Stay with your breathing, allow your self to relax, place your awareness on your whole body, feel yourself from the inside out. Then keeping half your attention on your body look out into the world, just observe everything that arises within you. Don’t judge, don’t compare, don’t entertain any thoughts, just watch. See what other people help you uncover within yourself.
Like I mentioned before, your attention creates your world. Most of our attention has been moving out into the world because we live through our senses, this has caused us to feel separated and that the external world is the ultimate reality. But as soon as you move inward, the outside world begins to feel less real, and your inner world become more of a solid reality. Then eventually when you meditate deep enough to completely quiet your body’s physical senses you transcend your bodily awareness to see that there is no inner or outer, it is one organic whole. Your attention then becomes all encompassing, now this is how you really become open to the world.
People always watch other people, but they never really watch themselves. Do both, but do it right, life has so much to reveal to you, it’s such a beautiful mystery. The more aware and conscious you become the more the boundaries between you and the world melt, then when you look out into the world it is done in a loving way. You slowly start seeing yourself in the other, how could you then hurt the other? If everyone did this, Imagine what kind of world this would be.
If you try this, please share your experience. Much love.
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