Stuck In The Middle: Living In The Land of Observation

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” William Blake

Living a Life in The Middle

I consider myself very fortunate in the way I was raised, which was to live in two different worlds. I spent my early years living between a land of cowboy hats and ostrich boots in Mexico, to the fast paced city life surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. Without my conscious awareness my environments put me in a position to develop the art of observation of myself and the world.

Without my choosing I constantly felt in the middle of my surroundings. When I was in Colorado I was a Mexican trying to integrate into the American way of life. In Mexico others saw me as an American or someone who was a little different than the rest. My American friends wanted me to teach them Spanish and learn about my culture. My Mexican friends would want me to teach them English and tell them about the land of the free. In the beginning it was a challenge learning to adapt and live in two distinct worlds. Later on I grew to embrace it because I realized it gave me a wider vision to perceive the world.

What I learned was that much of the world’s population lives in extremes; they are either all the way to the right or all the way to the left on a myriad of fundamental human issues. What are the implications of living in extremes? What I observed is that you are not really able to learn, which is to see something clearly, in its entirety, free of your conditioning and prejudices, to really observe something objectively.

Why do people not realize they are living a life of conditioning?

  • Everyone around them because of tradition and cultural norms seems to live the same type of life, so it appears normal and acceptable. For example in Mexico cock fighting is a tradition that is quite popular, especially among the men. To them it is something that is perfectly normal because it’s tradition. Traditions become part of your unconscious mind, so you never question them. If they brought enough awareness into it, and stepped back to really observe what they where doing, they might see the absurdity of it. They might even question whether they should continue this tradition.
  • People don’t understand their emotions. It is important that one learn to observe ones emotions. You will see the importance in learning not to express negative emotions. Just notice that each time you are expressing and consumed with your emotions that you lose yourself, you forget your sense of “I am”, you don’t remember yourself. But if you have an alert mind you can observe this inner movement taking place and have the awareness to not become identified with it.

The fact of the matter is that most people are asleep and live very mechanical lives because we are operating from our conditioned unconscious tendencies. Until you become aware of what those tendencies are and begin to struggle with them, understand them, there is very little hope for change.

You need to develop discipline in studying ones self, to understand your mind, the nature of your thought. To be able to see that all thought is simply a response from memory, which is always old. To have a sincere desire of enquiring into why there is conflict within you. This is to say that you need to learn to observe yourself, only then will you be able to question your conditioning, if you don’t question you don’t internalize.

One of humanity’s greatest problems is that we are constantly trying to become something. We look at each other and say that things should be this way or that, taking old thought and projecting our ideas of the future. Life is always new yet we approach it with old ideas. We neglect looking at things as they truly are which is to look at something with new eyes, free of conditioning. Becoming always implies that things will take time to change, hence our conflict.

How To Really Change

If we truly want to change we need to observe what “is” not “what should be”. To be able to see what “is” you need to have a mind that is:

  • Psychologically free of the past or future. This means that you need to have an extremely quiet mind.
  • Capable of perceiving that the observer is the observed, that they are not separate. That the thinker and the thought are not separate. The problem is that we see these internal manifestations as being separate, this is where conflict arises. You observe thoughts of anger within you and you say “I hate that person, they always treat me bad”, and think that this thought is separate from the part of you thinking it.When you see this you say “I don’t like being angry, I need to do something about this”. Then we proceed to suppress, distort, and escape.

    You will see that when there is an observer separating himself from the thing he observes, there must inevitably be conflict. In observing this internal movement as one and not separate you will see what “is” and the conflict will cease. You will see that you “are” anger and what “is” changes instantly, you are beyond it. No effort in trying to become, no using your thoughts to change or rationalize. This is very difficult to describe, you must observe these movements in yourself.

It is an individual process to develop a sensitive alert mind that is able to remain unattached yet very attentive. But this is the type of mind you need to have to see things as they “are” not “what they should be”. To see something in its entirety ends conflict, no more effort in trying to change, a whole new dimension of action.

Practicing Meditation for a Quite Mind

Once you have a certain level of understanding of your mind, meditation can be your tool to perceive and live in a space that is free of conditioning. The more you meditate and understand what meditation really is, you will create more inner space to witness and observe all your contradictions. In that observation which is to see the contradiction in it’s entirety, the whole internal movement, your direct perception of it will give you understanding into the causes of it and therefore be free from it. You will become less and less contradictory.

Meditating does not mean to only concentrate, pure concentration makes you more closed and your mind duller. Meditation is something that is allowed to happen, a total relaxation, to be a witness of your internal world who remains passive and unattached. As you develop a knack for it you will see that the number of thoughts come down on their own accord.

Trying to control your thoughts still involves thinking, this is very subtle, you simply need an alert yet passive awareness, I know this sounds paradoxical and it is. Life is paradoxical. It is very difficult to describe a state of being that you need to discover on your own, because my description is not going to be the described. Its like asking someone how chocolate cake tastes, you can describe it but unless you eat it you will not know.

I can only point the way; you need to walk and get to know the path yourself. But this is the only way you will understand your mind and see how insubstantial thoughts are, look at a thought directly and see how it dissolves. Look at your thoughts of anger, don’t run away from them, be with them entirely, they will fade and lose their grip on you.

So summing up, living a life in the middle is to be balanced, to be in harmony, to be in the position to freely observe. I just want to thank you for reading my article, hope it helps in some way, this is a very tough topic to tackle and very difficult to explain, so forgive me if I did not do an adequate job. Just know that I am always observing myself and the world and will report what I learn along the way. Much love to everyone.  Ivan Campuzano

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43 Responses to Stuck In The Middle: Living In The Land of Observation

  1. I’m so glad you past my stream, that I saw your dream and have shared in these wonderful thoughts this past year
    Thankyou for sharing and mirroring some of the same thoughts i think
    Once I knew meditaiton an be anything that stills your mind the world opened.

  2. Ivan, I can totally relate to being from two different worlds. The technical term for someone who has grown up in two different cultures, yet not being quite part of either one is called ‘third culture kid.’ I do believe we have a greater flexibility of world view due to our varied and rich experiences. Just speaking another language alone shows you how differently the world can be experienced. By the way, I loved your video. Made me want to pick up and go to Mexico right now! 🙂
    .-= Steve´s last blog ..2 Best Ways to Achieve Personal Success =-.

  3. i’m trying to break free from my conditioned life…

    trying to challenge my beliefs and more than that, trying to challenge myself to go for the things that i think are really important to me…

    thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts…
    .-= flip´s last blog ..Convince Me to Go to India =-.

  4. Hey Ivan,

    I really have nothing else to add. You and I have very, very similar perspectives on this, so I’m not all that surprised that you’ve left me speechless.

    P.S. I just picked up the Gita for the first time last week and found it INCREDIBLE. I’m only about halfway through but it’s beyond excellent. Maybe “sublime” is an accurate description of it.
    .-= Brett –´s last blog ..Are You Up For the Presence Challenge? =-.

  5. I agree with everyone here you wise and should pursue more of this. Certainly in your spare time. The Blake quote is one my roommate in Barcelona cherished. The path of the mystic is fun too. I hope you a Twitter badge here on the page Ivan.

  6. My two worlds seem to crash me onto the rocky shores of “I must stand up for what I believe” from the relative quiet of just a small way out to sea.
    Today I wished I could tell another highly conditioned human, “Don’t believe everything you think!” Thx for doing some thinking for the rest of us. I am grateful.
    .-= Twrl33 2eat´s last blog ..Medical Marijuana comes to… =-.

  7. Went back and watched your video. Did I see “Morelos” painted on a wall? As in the State of? As in Cuernavaca? Where I spent many happy summer months? I am thinking of repatriating to Mexico but have been frightened that it is all overrun with drug wars. Looked beautiful where you were. Is there a more peaceful part than say, Oaxaca? Yucatan? I loved Merida.

  8. It appeared that you replied to my query re your Mexican location but I can’t read it! Is it html? I saw it all, the street paths, the quick race of the cars for pure fun, my friends used to summon each other to the car with a whistle I can still do, we took old mountain roads to Oaxaca on white threaded tires and had no problems; I drank Mezcal and pulpe and hugged trees as I spoke to heaven, I’d lapse into perfect understanding of the Spanish conversation with chess, guitars, singing, lived downstairs in an open-air small apt, artist of popping mushroom landscapes, traveled to Puerto Angel before, before, when the pig for dinner was slaughtered outside the pristine hotel, perfect water, a beach dwelling woman had her son take us the long walk to her precious cenote and a bush of orange blossoms suddenly took flight. I’ve never been so happy or felt so at-one-ment with a people. I can make myself understood in Spanish, even philosophical ideas to the amazement of my male friends and, back in CA, once conducted a successful therapy with a little girl reared by grandparents, thought her mother was a sister, ’til Abuelito (?) turned over in his truck, lying dead atop her til help came and the family truths needed out. Their gentle courage, their easy acceptance of me when I showed my heart and we went together into the waiting future. This is my calling , my gift.
    You have a calling too; my heart is full to know you.

  9. Feels like a weight that just fell off my mind after reading this ariticle. My heart seems to understand it more than my analytical mind…

  10. Ivan, I want to understand and would like your help in clarifying this statement from the above post:

    “Capable of perceiving that the observer is the observed, that they are not separate. That the thinker and the thought are not separate. The problem is that we see these internal manifestations as being separate, this is where conflict arises.”

    In my case, when a negative thought such as, “You won’t make it” arises, are you suggesting to see that thought as a part of myself, not separate from me?

    I see that this thought has an external origin (society, people tell me and I internalize without questioning). I sat down and found evidence for why this thought is true or false. But I find that engaging in arguments with these thoughts is quite draining.

    I had assumed that the point of passively observing means to dis-identify myself from the thought, as such, becoming separate from it. But this post seems to suggest otherwise?

    Please clarify. Thank you Ivan.

  11. Wonderful post, I totally understand how difficult it can be to break free from conditioning and being how people expect us to be.

  12. I found your sight interesting so i begun reading it. I am @ the peak of my struggle regarding with my cheating husband. I asked for an answer and God gave me your website. Thank you so much Ivan. You just don’t know how much you helped me. God bless you in your journey and may He continue to guide you in every aspect of your life.

    • Thank so much for your kind words, I am delighted to hear that I could be of some assistance in a challenging time. Don’t give up, keep learning and growing from your journey. Keep shining…peace…

  13. This article is not for everybody and it is only meant for those who wanna explore internal relationship with theme self.

    The article is awesome and have no words to explain. In a sec, i broke the concept of observer and the observed. The anger example is an excellent concept to understand observer and the observed.

  14. Very insightful, I’ve come to understand many realizations these past few weeks, and you’ve made it easier to apply them with this article. You tackled a difficult topic and nailed it.

  15. I have been practicing awareness for 7 months already (since I have read Anthony de Mello’s Awareness). However, no matter how much I practice it, I always get possessed by my thoughts sooner or later.

  16. This is very helpful!! Thank you for your’s confirmation!! Psychologicaly sometime
    Is difficult because I often attack by the unconscious even those I understand is not
    Personally.. How would u handle it? Any susgestion is helpful.. I have been observing

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