If you are a lover of truth, this one belief will block your exploration more than just about any other:
“There is a teaching, paradigm, or understanding that could help me watch the events and emotions of my life from a safe distance—or even escape them.”
This can never be the case. Even those who explicitly teach the (very valid) ‘witness state’ point to it being ‘within you’. A more neutral observing, yes. But the observing runs alongside—not apart from—feeling all the feelings.
Sometimes, the metaphor of a movie on a screen is used to illustrate the belief. Yet, the metaphor of the movie on the screen is not meant to suggest that you are sitting in a comfy seat with your popcorn. Rather, within the context of the metaphor, you are the screen. An infinite, knowing, lovingly indifferent screen. This is why metaphors, while useful in breaking down beliefs, are best not adopted as beliefs themselves.
I promise you, the character never escapes the movie; the character never becomes the witness. Yet the character is never even a Planck Length (a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimetre) apart from the witness. There is no need for the character to escape the movie, nor for the witness to distance herself from the character. It is not distance that protects the witness, for the witness needs no protection.
Though it appears the character is the one who commences the journey to find the witness, it is actually the witness who is the actor playing the character. This very fact facilitates both the folding of the mind inwards onto itself, and the simple knowing of our own Self—for the witness is none other than Awareness.
When it seems you are lost in the drama of life, it is Awareness who knows, who knows with loving indifference.
When it seems you are watching life at arm’s length, it is Awareness who knows, who knows with loving indifference.
When it seems you are detached from life, with no idea how to be in the world, it is Awareness who knows, who knows with loving indifference.
When it seems you are completely at peace, totally free, yet not distanced from life, it is Awareness who knows, who knows our own Self without distraction.
Why would we need to escape from life? How could we ever be distanced from it? The essence of nonduality is ‘not two’. The essence of life is Awareness. The essence of living is the knowing of it.
If you feel the desire to escape life, may I suggest that rather than looking for a tool to enable the impossible, you look instead to what life is made of? Perhaps, like me, you are beginning to see that life is within us, made of us, and never, ever separate from us.