Most of us have spent much of our lives working on the project of improving and developing our separate sense of self in order to succeed, win approval, and find happiness. We must have the willingness to go through the gap of not knowing, non-ego, and not being in control. By recognizing awake awareness immediately, we have the support to begin our new phase of life.
Awakening may seem like a daunting challenge, but it’s not any more difficult than other stages of learning and growth you’ve already been through, and it’s more rewarding. In fact, in order for our awakening to be embodied, we need to show up and include all aspects of human growth, relationships, and development.
Awakening begins by discovering the awareness that is already free, awake, and connected, regardless of whether our thoughts are positive or negative. Awakening is not a one-time event, but a series of shifts and a process of unfolding that moves us away from the habit of trying to maintain a center, a point of view, and the primacy of a separate sense of self. The process of awakening and embodying has common principles, but it unfolds uniquely for each individual. We can begin our process by having small glimpses of awake awareness and repeating these glimpses many times.
The practice of small glimpses will begin to rewire our whole operating system and further support the unfolding process of awakening. Our entire mind-body system has been tied in knots by our attempts to defend against the pain caused by our mistaken identity. For this reason, most of us go through a process of thawing out, detoxing, and gradually rewiring our neural networks. The journey of awakening welcomes and liberates our deepest doubts and fears. The core stories — I’m not good enough . . . Something’s wrong with me . . . I’m unlovable — are no longer convincing. We learn to return to awake awareness as our ground of being, and we train to remain in it.
The shift to a new perception, knowing, and identity generates a new kind of vitality. As a result, we discover a renewed level of motivation and creative expression. You have to begin where you are, but the one who starts the journey is not the one who awakens. “You” do not awaken, and awareness does not awaken. Awake awareness, which is contentless and unconditioned, realizes that it has always been awake and is the primary foundation of your conditioning and human life. Many people call this realization, or remembering who we truly are. One person said: “This is the feeling of who I’ve been at all ages in my life, which hasn’t changed.” It is so ordinary that it is extraordinary. When you awaken, you awaken from a looping thought pattern that has been called “me” and feels located behind your eyes, in the middle of your head. But awakening doesn’t make you become a nobody, a bliss-ninny, or a vacant robot. You are simply not the particular identity that you formerly took yourself to be.
This journey starts with freedom from identification with our bodies and minds, but it ends up including and embracing everything from open-hearted awareness. It may be hard for you to accept that shifting into freedom is really possible for you. But the natural, loving awareness that I am talking about is the source of your mind and identity. It is our natural condition; we can glimpse it at any moment, and it is the potential new operating system to which we can upgrade. Once we discover open-hearted awareness, we no longer have to live in the office cubicle of our head. Instead, we can stay at home in our heart and be connected to the information we need in our brain through open-hearted awareness Wi-Fi.
GLIMPSE PRACTICE: Awareness Yoga
In a yoga class, you learn how to move your body to feel renewed, refreshed, balanced, and unified. In this practice, we’re learning to move awareness for the same purposes. Use these four pointers one at a time to shift your view, pausing in between to experience what they point to. Instead of trying to understand the meaning of the statement, just be curious. Let your awareness look. Repeat each one as many times as you like. You can say these phrases with your eyes open or closed, as you prefer. The important thing is to shift awareness to look and to feel where you’re looking from after you shift.
- Look from awareness to see what the next thought will be.
- Look from awareness to experience the space through which thoughts move.
- Look from awareness to see what is aware of space and moving thoughts.
- Look from awareness and rest as the field of spacious and pervasive awareness and aliveness.
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