What is the Inner Observer?

An Inner Observer is the neutral, non-judgmental aspect of ourselves that allows us to witness our thoughts, feelings and sensations. We have constant access to the Observer. We cultivate it by paying attention with mindful awareness. The Observer is always in the present moment.

The Inner Observer can watch you having a thought without having to act on it or having a feeling about it. The Observer can witness whether the thought is a memory, a plan or an imagined fantasy. It simply watches like the lens of a movie camera which does not judge or interpret the thought.

The Inner Observer can watch a body sensation without having an opinion about it. For instance, bring your attention to a sensation in your body right now. Describe its qualities in detail. Do you notice whether it is tight, tense, dull, painful? Do you notice if it feels cool, warm, hot? Do you notice if it feels light? Heavy? Tingly? If it is painful, is the pain sharp, dull, throbbing? The Observer is a neutral witness of the sensation.

The Inner Observer can watch an emotion and identify it as anger, sadness, embarrassment, fear. It does not attach a story to the emotion. (I was angry because …) The Observer simply notices the emotion without adding commentary.

Why is it necessary to cultivate an Inner Observer?

The Inner Observer is a neutral witness of patterns of thoughts. The more we develop the Inner Observer, the more we can bring unconscious patterns of thinking, feeling and sensing into our awareness.

Those who teach the Enneagram emphasize the value of self-observation as a tool for shedding light on one’s limited perception. Once we can observe the limited perspective of the type, we can breathe deep, relax our resistance, and halt the pattern and redirect our energy.

What do you mean by autopilot?

Each type has unconscious motivations for feeling, thinking and acting a certain way.An autopilot reaction is an automatic reaction without the self observation that brings unconscious motivations to awareness. For instance, if you are a Type Two, you may be unaware that the pattern of giving to others has a deeper motive—to feel loved and valued for what you do rather than who you are. You may be unaware that giving to others ultimately is what gives you value and a reason to be loved. An autopilot reaction for a Two might be flattering someone or giving something to someone with hopes of getting something in return—appreciation, value, love. It’s also known as “giving to get.”

What is “in and down?”

In and down is a short hand term used to identify the process of consciously breathing deeply into your belly—a deceptively simple thing you can do to relax and “center” yourself when your type is “triggered” and you are acting on autopilot. The breath has a natural physiological component that reduces stress by inducing a feeling of calm. Conscious breathing “in and down” brings you into the present moment so you can observe yourself more accurately and deeply.

What is receptivity?

Receptivity is what is left after the type’s habitual reactions relax. It is also called “undefended awareness” in which our type is not acting mechanically on autopilot. We relax the type’s defense and receive the world wholly—we see things as they actually are without our type filter when we are receptive. the example of the Two above, a receptive stance would allow the Two the discernment to determine if the giving is without strings attached and appropriate of if it is “giving to get.”

What is “on the spot?”

“On the spot” is the ability to observe our type reactions as they are happening in the present time.

To put all of the terms together:

Our “Inner Observer” is brought to consciousness when we breathe “in and down” and relax “on the spot” into “receptivity” rather than react on “autopilot.”