the neutral witness


“This paying attention to the ground of the mind is like observing the sky rather than the things in it. We may notice a bird flying through the sky, but certainly the sky does not become smudged from this movement. Today it is rainy, but somehow the sky does not become wet. Tomorrow it is sunny, but the sky doesn’t ignite into flames. The next day there is an exciting show of thunder and lightning, yet no one rushes around trying to repair the sky. In the same way, when we have the discipline to stay with our practice, we insist on remaining identified with our own neutral witness, the part of us that stays the same regardless of the passing show.”

~ Donna Farhi

“When I first read the quote above, I breezed right through it. Sky… got it. Birds… got it. Practice… got it. But this quote somehow found its way into my head, and I found myself thinking about it all the time. In the shower… Driving my car… Playing with my daughter… The more I thought about it, the more true it rang. For me, these simple words somehow shed light on the whole idea of being still and watching. On not getting involved and attached to each thought and emotion that rides through our minds. And not letting our stories take us over. It made me stop and try to identify with my own neutral witness periodically. And keep coming back to that over and over. Practicing gently. And I thought that was a beautiful thing.

And so I was inspired to share this beautiful thing I discovered by creating a piece of art and an animation that sort of illustrated the idea. The woman is sitting. Not in meditation or an asana, but just casually cross-legged. That, for me, is where I challenge myself to live my yoga — off the mat in everyday life. And everything flows through her in her stillness. She can still be seen faintly as birds pass, the wind blows clouds in and a storm comes up and finally blows over. She is the neutral witness.

Watch this:

she is the neutral witness

I hope you enjoy it and might think of it occasionally as a reminder to connect with the part of you that stays the same regardless of the passing show.”

~ Penelope Dullaghan, artist


Check out Penelope’s beautiful work:

One Response to the neutral witness
  1. Erin

    You have such a knack for finding good things and calming me…re-centering me…
    so good.

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015