“In physics, the observer effect is the theory that simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon.” ~ Wikipedia
I remember when I first learned that Vipassana meditation focuses on observing bodily sensations instead of trying to get thoughts to stop, I was a bit surprised.
How will observing my bodily sensations help me reach nirvana?!!
But as I’ve been honing my internal observation skills and practicing Ayurveda (the ancient science of life that has a big focus on lifestyle and food as medicine), some big changes started to happen.
Pleasure or Pain?
The more simple change has to do with food. Before, I used to INDULGE! I enjoyed unhealthy food at the moment of eating it. That caused me to associated cake with pleasure for example.
But as I started to be more mindful and conscious and observant of my body, I started to notice that even though the cake was pleasurable at the moment, if I ate too much of it, I would feel sick later – sometimes even the next day! This observation has added one more association to cake – pleasure turned into pain later.
Now that I am aware of how cake makes me feel on a deeper level, the level of suffering, I can make a smarter decision. Is it worth eating the cake for a moment of pleasure just to have hours of pain later? Most of the time, the answer is no.
Simply by being more observant, I was able to completely change my diet to much healthier foods. Observation brought about a concrete change that I’ve been trying to make but couldn’t for years!
Who am I?
Currently, I’m experiencing the power of observation on a very deep spiritual level.
If you asked me to describe my personality a year ago, I would say that I’m a perfectionist, I’m angry, I’m a leader, not a follower, I’m productive but also lazy.
But Ayurveda gave me a powerful language of observation – the three doshas (humors) Vata (air), Pitta (fire), Kapha (earth). While we all have a mix of all of these, some could be more out of balance and predominant than others. For example, my anger came from an imbalance in Pitta (fire). I was lazy in the winter because I had high Kapha (earth). An imbalance of Vata in the fall made my skin very dry.
Combining this language with the power of observation, I’ve noticed that my balance can shift throughout the day and between days. That means that if I’m angry for example, I now know that it’s because I have high Pitta (fire) and will seek out foods and activities that help me lower it.
By becoming the observer, I now realize that things that I thought were core to my personality (such as fiery anger), are only imbalances in my bodily dosha. I keep thinking – if I’m not anger, who am i?!! If I’m not lazy, who am I?!!
I still don’t know who I am without the bad side-effects of my bodily imbalances, but I will keep observing and learning.