“Your soul is the silent witness of your life.”
That one sentence changed everything for me. Yes, I had heard about the “witness” before, but it was an idea in my head that I could never access within my own experience. After years and years of meditation practice, I continued to be lost in my thoughts. Then, during a webcast, I listened to Panache talk about dropping into present-moment awareness by simply taking a deep breath and repeating, “Here I am.” And here I am. And here I am. Now. And now. And now. Something shifted within me, and I was there, or rather here, in presence. The next morning at sunrise, during meditation, I was able to step back from my mind’s mental chatter into a silent inner space of awareness, of peace. When thoughts arose, I could observe them without losing consciousness. If I drifted into my thoughts momentarily, I found I could bring my self back to witnessing from the soul’s point of view: “Here I AM…now.”
That I AM that lives within each breath is greater than the personality self connected to the mind. It is a pure state of being, of infinite consciousness, which links all beings on the planet, actually in the cosmos. When I access that inner silent space, I am in the same place that you are when you access it. Within that living awareness, we are in complete and utter oneness. Within that space is the deepest peace and calm I have ever known. Infinite, with no fear attached to the endless being-ness. Some call this place Heaven, or Home. It is the source from which we all arise into human form and into which we dissolve at the end of our lives. It is God or Goddess; it is Great Spirit. It is Om.
And immersion in this profound state of consciousness is not limited to human beings. Animals experience their own contemplative moments. My dear cat Lily in her elder years used to sit on the back of the couch by the window, facing west at sunset, eyes closed in deep meditation. In the tall oak tree in my neighbor’s back yard, leafless now in the winter months, birds gather each evening, all facing west, their breasts shining red-gold in the setting sun. J. Allen Boone in his wonderful book Kinship with All Life describes sitting in the California hills at sunset with Strongheart, a German shepherd: “Strongheart sat on the ledge as though carved out of granite…. His gaze was focused on a point in the sky considerably above the horizon line… staring off into fathomless space…. I had watched human pilgrims in such meditative poses on sacred mountains….”
We creatures living on Planet Earth find connection and comfort in the profound sacred silence that occurs at moments like sunrise and sunset. It reminds us of something beyond our lifetimes, something eternal and infinite at the heart of the universe—and within our own hearts. It reminds us that even when we feel most alone, there is always the loving presence of a greater consciousness of which we are part.