Attaining ‘Inner Observer’ or ‘Witness Practice’ Level

Dear Cynthia,

Thank you for all the wonderful insights into the spiritual world.

I am writing to you because I have a deep desire to attain the “Inner Observer or Witness Practice” level of spiritual development. My concern is that – do I have that “some fluency in inner observation” to be able to attain the IO or WP? How would I know? What to look for in myself, etc?

I’m also writing to you to help clarify my thinking–not looking for a technique but surely there has to be a “how to” way of attaining IO-WP.

In your book “The Heart of Centering Prayer” I’ve read the chapter on the Witnessing Practice especially pages 83 through 89 at least 20 times to try to grasp your “how do we learn to do this.” When I got to the line “When one begins to get the knack of that experience” (page 84), I have a note in the margin ”by doing what?” I’ve gone back to p 83 to try to get a handle what that experience might be and it took the 20 times to get to what I think is the “how to”. And that is not to imagine but to know, in sitting for 20 minutes, that I am a transparent blob of “objectless awareness” or a being “coinciding with the attention field.” Is that true or how would you express it and more importantly to me–though this attitude is held without thinking–how do I get to “know” this and hold on to it. I’m 92 and a little late in life to hope for transformation but I sure would like to be a witness before I leave.

With Deep Admiration and Affection,


Dear Jim,

How incredibly marvelous, Jim, that at the age of 92 you are still hanging in there, sharp and determined, pushing for the finish line in the great steeple chase of transformation. Formidable!!!

My sense is that your brilliant mind has brought you as far as you can. My intuition is that what you most need now is to meditate in a group—particularly a group of experienced practitioners, who can amplify the energy no doubt already stirring in you to the point where you can notice it and start to trust it. The last leg of the journey is traversed vibrationally, not cognitively. I suspect you’re already there, but don’t know it, since you haven’t been taught how to pick up the signals at a more subtle and embodied level than the mind. If you don’t have an on-the-ground group, Wisdom Waypoints offers regular online meditation. You might also be interested in pushing deeper into the Gurdjieff exercises, now much more readily available via Joseph Azize’s recent book Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation, and Exercises, and my own commentary on these exercises. They are great inner-body builders! As I said, I suspect this has all already happened to you, so it would be great for you to be able to savor the sweetness of it!