The tool of becoming a Sakshi—a witness—is one of the most effective tools you may take from yoga philosophy. Sakshi Yoga is an ancient way of witnessing one’s mind and slowly transcending it. The ability to read your thoughts, feelings, and motives, neither identifying nor responding from the mind. It enables the mind to come directly in contact with pure consciousness.
The soul is that pure individual consciousness, the witnessing consciousness, which contains the universal spirit of awareness. It can make the mind aware and conscious. As we know, yoga is a fusion of the body, mind, and soul. Most people who practice yoga restrict the mind mainly to bodily exercises or to relax the mind in a therapeutic manner and not spiritually. Hardly anyone cares about what is the soul, or how to awaken the soul with yoga.
Sakshi yoga relates to cultivating an attitude towards the soul’s pure consciousness, internalizing, and awakening. Sakshi stands for witnessing, watching, and observing, which is extremely important in Hindu philosophy. It is a state of our beingness.
Usually, the mind functions in the lower consciousness which we refer to as the “ego-consciousness”. How do we go towards pure consciousness? The answer is Sakshi yoga. It takes you towards pure consciousness effortlessly. All that you require is the alertness of the mind. And to initiate that process, you have Sakshi yoga to cultivate how to make the mind alert, attentive, and aware of itself and its environment.
You must start watching inwardly, internalizing yourself. Look inward without prejudice, conflict, condemning, conditioning, or justifying. When you are watching purely from the soul, the mind first becomes aware and after that conscious, there is a pause during this period of whatever it is thinking or doing. Very much like when you stare at any person, one stops and will become shy or conscious. The multitasking, chattering mind crashes to a halt, and the soul awakens. As a result, the subconscious mind in auto-mode gets activated to take charge of itself consciously.
But for how long can you witness without judgment?
First, you need to constantly be alert to this aspect of watching internally from one moment to the next. Second, the moment the mind is aware, it switches on to a higher gear; slow and steady but focused. After that, your mind, if attentive to what it has become informed of, results in making the mind conscious. This means, that only if your mind is alert will it capture the pure metaphysical energy to become aware, and only after being aware, can it become conscious of what it is about to perceive.
Another example of soul awakening occurs when the mind goes off-balance, tilting excessively towards one side. You are to behave like a tight-rope walker – balance the psychic energy towards the center, where you permit the mind to flow on what it desires but keep it in check with the soul watching and witnessing, not allowing the mind to excessively bend towards its desires and emotions. The soul, in this case, is referred to as the third eye. For example, when you are doing something in excess, whether drinking, eating, driving at speed, or anything else, a subtle voice in your mind warns you of your unwarranted act.
Spiritualists refer to the soul as the superconscious section of the mind, where no thoughts prevail, and there is the presence of merely watching. When you as the soul, the actual self, are independent of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, it is the metaphysical, spiritual realm of the mind. Since your desires are too strong, you usually do not listen to the soul. So, this section of the mind remains dormant. In Sakshi yoga, we learn how to awaken the same.
Hence, the soul is responsible for making the mind aware, and after that, the mind becomes conscious only if attentive. So, the whole process begins with the soul.
In its purest form, Sakshi is the “witness” ⎯ “the being and becoming of the witnessing self with the help from the spirit. Our potentiality extends in the being and becoming of the witness in pure consciousness to be at par with the absolute total awareness – the universal spirit. Therefore, the ancient scriptures tell us that we are the creator (the soul) and the creation (body and mind). Only because of us all that exists is matter and consciousness; from the stars to the subatomic particles are there due to our being aware and conscious of the same.
A Sakshi yogi distances itself from the body and mind; its thoughts, feelings, motives, and actions in meditative awareness from one moment to the next. Existentially, you are alert all the time, but you are constantly watching your thoughts, witnessing them at the back of your mind. As mentioned earlier, when you start observing someone, they become conscious. Similarly, your mind becomes conscious, aware, and attentive.
Yoga is not complete until all three – the mind, body, and soul are in unison. You must remember that you, meaning the soul, remain unattached to the body and mind while you are in meditative awareness. With an awakened soul, you get away from the dual functioning of the mind, and the non-dual characteristic appears. The dualistic role of this and that by the mind – divine and devil, good and bad, positive and negative, etc., is not considered when pure witnessing is going on.
Witnessing is an effortless process of not dictating anything to the mind. It automatically becomes conscious of not wanting to do what is wrong or overindulging in anything. Therefore, Sakshi Yoga helps us righteously in activating the mind in a focused direction.
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