Make An Observation

I’ll be honest: I want Make it Manifest to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy. I want the blog to be inspiring and authentic; I want the Instagram photos to be beautiful, and the Facebook page to be something that makes you feel good as you scan through updates.

But the thing I want more than anything is to help you take action. I don’t want you to just read about creating a life that you love, I want you to actually do it.

So, this post and the few that follow will include a little exercise. It doesn’t take any time at all. You can even do the exercise as you go about your day. In fact, I encourage you to do the exercise as you go about your day, because that’s when the magic happens.

Today, we’re going to make an observation. This is all about looking at your situation without judgment. Seriously, NO judgment. Learning to observe without judgment takes practice. If it helps, you can think of yourself in two parts; there’s the ‘you’ that consists of your mind, your body, and your emotions moving through the events of your life, and there’s the ‘you’ that can observe it all. For today’s exercise, be the observer.

Ideally, observation is something that happens in every present moment, and I encourage you to work toward that. For now, let’s just focus on one area of your life where you can fine tune and sharpen your practice of awareness.

Life is very full and complex and there are many different parts and pieces of parts. So for now, I’ve narrowed things down into four categories that you could more or less cram all of those pieces into. They are:

Health: This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Relationships: This is about the relationship with yourself and also the relationships you have with others.

Wealth: Everybody has their own definition of wealth, but it more or less includes your home, money, lifestyle, and the feeling of support and stability.

Self-Expression: This is what you put out into the world—your work, service, talents, hobbies and creative expression—any way you choose to express yourself—which may be something you share with others, or choose to keep to yourself.

(You’re welcome to move these around to your liking; add, rearrange or takeaway…I won’t mind).

These four parts of your life are all important, but some will be more significant than the others on any given day, so let’s just focus on which one of these areas speak to you today, right now. Pay close attention to the area that pops out, and also pay close attention to the area that you really want to ignore. (Your tendency to avoid one aspect could be a sign that it really needs some attention). If you want to get more specific, select one part within one of the four categories that you know needs some extra TLC. Narrow it down as much as you like. That will be your focus for the next few days.

Got one?

Okay. Now, don’t think about it; just tune in to how you feel about it. Heavy? Open? Agitated? Excited? Nervous? Quiet? Where can you feel it in your body? Your heart; your gut; your hands; Are they tense? Tight? Sick? Anxious?

Now, this is important: Is your mind spinning stories about it? Stories might sound like excuses, scenarios, limitations, blame…anything that labels your experience or takes you out of the present moment. If you’re spinning stories, you’ve slipped into the ‘you’ that lives in your body. Slip back into the ‘you’ that observes; catch those thoughts and kindly ask them to fade out for a while and make your awareness bigger so that you can observe the ‘you’ that is judging. Bring more of your attention to the part of you that is observing, until you are holding the entire experience in a space without judgment.

Return to feeling.

Take one full breath all the way to the top of an inhale; feel the pause just before the breath turns around to release. Exhale it all out; all the way to the bottom of the exhale and notice the pause again. Repeat if you like; slowly, consciously.

That’s all there is to making an observation; it’s just a process of seeing what’s there. It gives you a broader perspective and it helps to flush out the stories so that you can actually facilitate some positive change. Those stories that your mind is constantly spinning keep you stuck and small and barely breathing, and when your mind keeps you stuck, it’s pretty hard to find your way out. Observation gives you a grander view so you can see that you’re actually not stuck. In fact, you have so much space, your mind can’t possibly fill it up; the space is unlimited.

Keep in mind; awareness and observation doesn’t always make you feel better or change things. It’s just a different vantage point. So if you still feel anxious or irritated, that’s okay; just observe the irritation; observe the annoyance; observe whatever is there and have some compassion for yourself. Be extra kind and gentle with your inner dialogue. Take a moment to rest or breathe consciously. The simple act of observing offers so much, but it may take time before it starts to usher in a sense of peace and clarity.

It’s that easy. The hard part is remembering to do it. The beautiful thing is that your body acts as a constant reminder; sending you the message to stop, listen and observe. Every time you feel tired, anxious, achy, irritated, frustrated, angry, sad, or any other physical or emotional sensation that doesn’t feel so great, that’s your body telling you to check in, get clear, get focused and make space.

When it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the feeling of clarity and peace, you start to think that it’s normal to feel less than great, and when you think it’s normal to feel shitty…well, you stop recognizing the messages from your body as signs to stop and observe. When you practice observation, you’ll start to feel and recognize tiny glimpses of peace that will expand each time you practice. Those glimpses of peace are the real you—your true nature and the essence of who you are.

Eventually, with practice, you’ll flip things around; instead of living in unease with brief glimpses of peace, you’ll live in peace, with brief glimpses of unease—which, of course, will be the simple reminders to return to peace.

So for the next few days, practice observation. You can focus on one of the four areas mentioned earlier, or just observe the present moment. Notice when you don’t feel great and use it as a reminder to tune in. Get bigger than the feeling until it loses some of its power. See if you can return to peace.

And please, please, let me know if you’re confused or if you have any questions that come up. Furthermore, let me know if you have any suggestions, or share your experience. I want to learn from you, too.

You’re well on your way to creating a life that you love. It’s happening now. Can you feel it?

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5 thoughts on “Make An Observation

    • That’s a great idea! I’ll look into putting something together that I can post to the blog. Check back in a few days…hopefully I can get something up by then.

  1. I’m trying so hard to grasp this concept, so let me give an example of an event in my life that happened last night and tell me how it would have been different had I simply observed instead of letting my thoughts and emotions take over. My kids love to help me make dinner which is a little stressful but fun. After we ate dinner my husband and kids got up to go play and I was left to clean up on my own. This led to all sorts of bitter comments inside my head and the more angry I got, the more breathless I became, the more hurt I felt, etc. To keep from saying things To hurt anyone, I got in my car and drove away for a hour to cool off. (This response seems so immature now that I’m writing it down). So if in this moment I had just stepped back and observed….how would it have looked different? Thanks for this blog, I love it so much!

    • Marci,
      First of all, thank you so much for sharing this experience. I can totally relate to the way you felt–and I’m sure almost every other mother who reads this will be able to relate also. 🙂
      Everything you’re doing embodies observation. Remember, observation doesn’t always make you feel better; observation is simply about being aware. If you weren’t observing, you would have likely allowed your emotions to boil over into words and actions that hurt others. Instead, you chose to leave the situation until you could cool off and gain some clarity.

      It’s normal to feel hurt and frustrated, and it’s normal to need time to allow those feelings to pass. One thing you can do to help it pass quicker is to call back your power over it. What I mean is, make a conscious decision about how to handle things when those feelings arise. One of my favorite quotes is by Eckhart Tolle and he writes, “leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it–all else is madness.”

      If you wish you had handled it differently, try talking to your husband and kids about it, especially now that the emotions have settled down. Next time you’re about to prepare dinner, let them know that you expect some help afterwards–no emotion, no drama, just let them know. Sometimes it helps to realize that when people in our lives do things that seem hurtful, it’s usually not intentional–they just don’t know. (Sometimes it seems crazy that they don’t recognize hurtful behavior, but the only way they will know is if you tell them). And it’s best to talk about it when the emotions are calm.

      Through your awareness of the situation, you have learned something–you’ve learned that you need to ask for help, or if you don’t want to ask for help, you can choose to accept that you’ll be cleaning up and you can prepare yourself to let go of any anger that might rise up out of that situation.

      So, to answer your question about stepping back and observing…you did exactly that! You stepped back, took some time and observed the situation. Next time you’re caught in a situation that causes irritation, observe the way your thoughts are making it worse, and see if you can drop the thoughts and just focus on observing the feelings as they pass through you. (Thoughts have a way of keeping irritating feelings alive for a very long time–if your thoughts aren’t helping the feelings pass, then try to drop them–replace them with a mantra or a word that feels calming to you).

      There’s one more thing I want to mention: as you begin your practice of observation, there’s going to be a gap between the action/behavior/thought that causes irritation and your awareness of it. (the awareness usually comes AFTER the fact). Over time, the gap gets smaller. You’ll catch yourself quicker, before feelings get hurt or thoughts have taken you for a ride. Eventually, you’ll get in FRONT of the reaction, and your awareness will be so sharp that you’ll notice the very subtle energetic shift that leads toward feelings of irritation. When that happens, you can act before emotions rise up around it. You will be able to express yourself with clarity and poise, which will prevent any type of ‘situation’ from ever materializing at all.

      You’re doing perfect. You are practicing, and next time it will be easier. Beautiful work, Mama. Your husband and kids are so lucky to have you.

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