Created April 28, 2023
Welcome to this week’s Bill Harvey Blog.
To read Powerful Mind Pt. 7, click here.
The Observer state is a state most commonly experienced today by meditators. When a meditative state has been achieved, a person is in the Observer state. In this state, the usual background assumptions are not being made. They have been placed on hold. It is as if the person has agreed to set them aside for a while, during which meditation will be practiced.
In the meditative state, when thoughts or feelings arise, the meditator does not take ownership of these thoughts or feelings, but observes them as if they were outside himself or herself. Similarly, if one of the usual background assumptions comes into consciousness, it is observed but with the same kind of detachment. Meditation can be seen as an oasis or taking a mini-vacation from the usual “stuff”.
In this state, one “sees things as they are,” stripped of the usual interpretations of good, bad, or fear-producing. Often this allows brief moments of Flow state in which there are wordless realizations of what causes us to have certain types of recurring dissonant experiences, e.g. being victimized by a boss, hurting one’s spouse, not getting deserved recognition, causing ourselves to fail just when we are close to succeeding, not enjoying each day, doing tasks just to get them over with, and all of the other ways in which we stop ourselves from being happy — along with an awareness of how we invite that recurring experience. These “Aha!” moments are Flow state and could not have reached conscious attention if the person had not created a blank slate on which the mind could write. That in a nutshell is the Observer state.
The core message of Powerful Mind is that the Observer state need not be limited to periods of meditation, and that it is better to spend as much time as possible in the Observer state, which leads to spending as much time as possible in the Flow state.
We are not content to merely impart this message, as important as it may be. We are even more concerned with imparting the techniques that will get you there.
Our assertion is that we all can and should make attaining the higher states of consciousness (Observer state and Flow state) a way of life. Doing so makes us more effective, more creative, makes us more of the individuals that we really are and less like programmed robots, puts us more in touch with love and the life of the spirit, more engaged and present in the moment. We enjoy living large, not in the sense of being materially rich showoffs, but in the sense of being enriched by the moment-to-moment wonders of being alive. Making the attainment of higher consciousness a way of life leads to success in everything else. That’s why placing higher consciousness in the forefront of our moment-to-moment attention is so valuable.
The Chattering Mind Is Not The Whole Self
Chatter in the mind is another differentiator between EOP and the Observer state. In EOP, the inner dialog is more or less constant. In the Observer state, this talking to oneself attenuates and eventually disappears completely. In its place arises a process of thought that is much faster and much more attentive to subtleties. Ultimately, one can see each thought or feeling as it arises, before it is turned into words, and so there is no longer the necessity of turning it into words to explain it.
Often in discussions of how to meditate one hears “first you must still the mind”. This is not bad advice, but those words alone do not automatically equip the meditator to achieve such stillness. In Powerful Mind, you will learn simple methods to achieve such stillness. For example, instead of trying to force stillness directly, you will be guided to observe your mind as if from outside. This has two effects: firstly, it provides a certain detachment or distance: you are looking at the mind’s content more like lab specimens under a microscope. Secondly, as you start to use words in your mind you notice it immediately and stop in mid-sentence. Our technique is operational, action-oriented. The reader is equipped with an actionable strategy that in the end achieves the stillness so difficult to achieve directly, except by experienced meditators.
What does the Observer state have to do with creative effectiveness? We hypothesize that the Observer state is a more efficient and effective information processing mode. It is characterized by no delays caused by putting things into words. Instead, the mind gets the point of each thought while it is still an unformed feeling or image in your mind, before the energy of translating it into words is expended. The intellect races ahead on an accelerated basis and everything in our internal and external experience is apprehended simultaneously and in relative perspective. Wisdom is more likely to occur. Wisdom is the tendency to right action. Right action is effectiveness.
In this state we call Mindquiet — an aspect of the Observer state — the mind moves from idea to idea so much faster that one often feels the desire to write down a “breadcrumb trail” (the metaphor in the Hansel and Gretel story) so as to remember the many important discoveries made. Whether you call this “journaling” or simply “taking notes”, the best way to do this is to use the fewest possible words, or else you will lose the Observer state and wind up back in EOP. We call these “trigger words”, the one or two words that will bring back the whole idea.
Because you are likely to have many new and valuable ideas about yourself while reading Powerful Mind, and especially in applying its techniques in your own life, we suggest you always carry a writing implement, whether paper and pen or an electronic device.
In the Observer state, one has temporarily suspended preferences about outcomes. Again, it is like a vacation. You may still care a lot (perhaps too much) about making more money or whatever, but you have parked those desires for a while. It is like re-opening your mind for the sake of a temporary experiment, a “what-if” period, a game that you are playing. You reserve the right to come back later and re-instate the drive to make money, or whatever, but for now it is “unlocked” instead of “locked in”.
With the chronic dilemmas set aside, fear and the mantle of self-protectiveness — the egocentric “defender” state — drops away in an autonomic cascade. One is simply observing without classifying good vs. bad, keeping an open mind, giving oneself permission to make decisions later. The usual unconscious kneejerk reactions are unplugged.
And with the intellect no longer using up all its energy in self-chatter, and the feelings no longer set to kneejerk reaction mode, the chances of slipping into Flow state are multiplied many fold. These appear to be among the underlying mechanisms by which Observer state potentiates Flow state.
Although the objective is to be in the Observer state whenever you are not in the Flow state, as you start the process of breaking out of EOP, it is especially important to take advantage of special opportunity moments during the day, which you will thereafter always want to benefit from.
Details to follow in the subsequent posts.
Love to all,