When I used to drink a lot of booze in my early 20's, on a few separate occasions, I put burning cigarettes out on my arms, and even let a couple friends press those pointed, smoldering embers into my flesh. I have some permanent scars where the tissue got singed. Obviously, it's a foolish, macho-type thing to do, but, believe it or not, there's a spiritual truth hiding underneath the chicanery.
You see, I already had a sense of the witness back then. I knew that I could damage my body, but I knew that something inside of me was unbreakable, and beyond pain, which the witness surely is. So, I would witness and feel the pain surging through my body, and stay unshaken inside.
Actually, athletes do the same thing all the time. Whether in extreme sports or more mainstream games, competitors push themselves to the edge of their pain threshold and level of tolerance. Without an establishment in the witness, they could not keep striving to go beyond the boundaries. The barrage of uncomfortable sensations in the mind and body could not be overridden and transcended unless there was a silent watcher inside with its hands on the controls.
So, the witness can be there even without practices like Deep Meditation. If the witness is already there, Deep Meditation will just expand the native state and saturate the organism with more inner silence. If the person's awareness is so strongly glued to thoughts and feelings, then Deep Meditation will be the first step in unpeeling consciousness from the sensations.
Of course, from the witness perspective, all objects of perception are seen as separate from the observant self. It's like watching a movie—everything is projected on screen, but the viewer is separate from the screen and its events. This begs the question: What links the witness to its observations? Ah, there's where it gets interesting.
The link is none other than the heart. The heart is where empathy arises, and empathy is the direct sharing of another person's presence and feelings. To share is the realest thing an individual can experience. There is nothing realer.
The essence of enlightenment is not merely to go BEYOND everything. The essence of enlightenment is to BECOME everything. That is the merging and union that yoga delivers. Transcendence is not a denial of identity with body, mind, thoughts, or feelings. Transcendence is an encompassing of identity with All That Is (including body, mind, thoughts, feelings, and inner silence). That is unity. That is truth. That is the alignment of all temporal parts with their source, and the only reason that such a union can occur, is because there is no absolute division between the source and its parts. They are One.
The witness, and detachment, are only an intermediary stage in awakening. Ultimately, immersion and saturation in the entirety of Being signify the wholeness and completeness in what begins as a sense of separation, and ends with an ongoing flow in unity.
Therefore, I wonder: Am I the cigarette burning my arm—and all the painful sensations that come along with that trauma—or am I the silent witness watching the real-life movie unfold?
The truth is: I am both. It's a paradox.
Marinate on that for a little while.