Written by: Ashfique Rizwan, MPH, MSc; Business Manager, Therapeutic Spiral International (TSI) & Candidate, TSI International Certification using TSM Psychodrama
Observing-Ego (OE) is one of the safety structures of Therapeutic Spiral Model (TSM) where the participants are encouraged to pick an animal card, object/scarf to represent their OE and then reverse role with that OE to receive a message from the perspective of no shame and no blame. Often, participants bring objects such as a Monkey to represent playfulness, some bring a musical instrument to represent harmony. The concept of OE is the first step to recognize the observer within oneself. In the Vedic tradition, there is a story of a bird as an observer of another bird who is eating a fruit on a tree. The observer bird represents the soul and the eater bird represents the body or the doer. The Observing-Ego concept can be related to that concept where a silent observer within us observes the activities without any judgment. For example, in mindfulness tradition the person in meditation observes the thoughts without any judgment, the thoughts come and go like movie images and the observer watches as it comes and goes.
There is a similar, yet a bit different process in Classical Psychodrama which is the technique of Mirror. In the Mirror, someone else in the group plays the role of the protagonist to demonstrate an out of awareness interpersonal behavior that might affect the drama and the place of the protagonist in the group. In the Mindfulness tradition, the person who observes from an inner eye gets detached and let the experience move through like a movie screen. OE is in the middle of the Mirror and Mindfulness. It observes the movie, but without shame or blame. It is an active process with an attitude of compassion which transforms the passive mode of Mindfulness.
The word Psyche means soul and Psychodrama is putting our soul into action. Yet, keeping an observer within us which can observe brings awareness into the action. William James defined the concept of I vs me where I is a subjective thinker and me is the objective body which is the doer. When the soul comes into action and observes the thinking and the action of this I and Me, we can call it an observing-ego. One of the spiritual masters of our time Deepak Chopra says “You my friend are not your thoughts, you are the thinker of your thoughts.” An eternal silence within us that has no beginning and end and which can evolve as the universe evolves. Our job is to find that eternal silence within us to bring awareness and the concept of Observing-Ego with concretization exercise with an object can be a stepping stone to make that journey to find our true self which is the silence between our thoughts.
In this today’s violent, aggressive, fearful, and emotionally manipulative world we need concepts and exercises that can lead us to our true nature of silence and silent observer. The concept of OE can bring back the awakening which is much needed in today’s time when our mind is manipulated by politics, media, a social and cultural structure that are constantly trying to disconnect us from our soul. We need to reconnect our hearts and soul to bring back harmony and peace. Not driving from external manipulation, finding the true inner purpose that can guide us to the light of hope and harmony.