Many times I’ve been in the middle of some life drama or tragedy, and suddenly had the sense of stepping outside myself to take mental notes. Once it happened at the funeral of a dear friend where I’d given the eulogy. I started to wonder if I was a terrible person who couldn’t properly feel anything, not even true sorrow at losing such a special person. Unable to find an answer, I went on with my life at the time. Then I began to write romance novels and the sensation got stronger until it was almost always there. I would be doing some everyday thing while being aware that I was also watching myself do it. One of the oddest occasions was when I decided to undergo hypnosis as a way to deal with a phobia. The hypnotist was clinically qualified and professional. I was more than ready to try to beat the phobia. Off we went. Toward the end, he told me I wouldn’t recall anything from the session but I would awake feeling refreshed and really good. Naturally I went home and wrote down everything I wasn’t supposed to remember. Yet he assured me I had been hypnotised and the session had gone well. So what was the part of me taking notes?
Novelist Judy Nunn calls it “the third eye” which is as good a label as any for a phenomenon. I don’t think this quality is unique to writers, although we may be more aware of it than most. We can be fast asleep but that third eye is always watching, feeding details of our experience to our mental filing cabinet for later use. It might be years before we need that precise detail, but it will be there when we need it. Sometimes we won’t even recall where we heard or saw the snippet. Like me, you’ve probably had the experience of hearing a trivia question on TV and snapping out the right answer, only to then asking yourself how on earth you knew that. Your third eye noticed and stored the information away, ready for when it was needed.
In an interview with Veronica Hay http://www.peopleandpossibilities.com/chopra.html Dr. Deepak Chopra says there is a part of yourself that is not subject to change, calling it the silent witness behind the scenes. He recommends paying attention to what is in every moment, “observing the observer in the midst of the observation” and accepting whatever is going on as what should be happening. This. he says, leads to joyfulness and a falling away of anxiety . So as well as providing fuel for our stories, we can also be improving our own wellbeing, truly a win-win situation.
Next time you’re in the middle of some troubling or even uplifting experience, catch yourself thinking, and observe what’s going on, what you’re feeling and how it’s expressed in your body. Make notes. They can be on paper, or imprinted on your mind because you’re observing so keenly. Either way, the details will be available to you when they’re needed.
Have you ever had the sense of watching yourself have an experience? Now you know it doesn’t make you unfeeling, it simply makes you a writer. Share your experiences by posting a comment here.
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