What it means to "Witness"
"Just witnessing is enough". These words were said to me in a letter during my first few months of living in Malawi, Africa, while serving in the Peace Corps. They have always stuck with me. I thought I knew what it meant to "witness" but I wasn't sure how witnessing could be "enough"? Was it enough to see all the suffering-AIDS, hunger and poverty-and not do anything?
I've come to recognize a certain look of peace and amusement in a Yoga student's eyes when they've learned how transforming it can be to become a witness-to watch their own or someone else's thoughts, feelings, communication, and behavior without judgment. As a witness, we seek to understand, not react. To learn, rather than control.
It doesn't mean we don't act at some point, but that the action comes from a different place-from a place of our union with reality and the flow of the universe, rather than the limited perspective of our mind in any given point. This is truly being present, and to leading with our spirit instead of our ego.
As we enter the holiday season, we invite you to step back from your habitual way of viewing yourself, your life, and your loved ones. Put on your "witness glasses" and be open to seeing your world and the people in it with new lenses. Seek to understand rather than be understood.
It is with this larger perspective that we often remember all we are grateful for, and vice versa--it is through practices of gratitude that we gain a larger perspective.