Awakening is the next natural stage of human development. It is an inherent human capacity within us all, like the capacity to read and write. Awakening is an upgrade of perception, knowing and identity. It is a shift from as small thought-based sense of self to an awake awareness-based operating system that is already installed. Awakening is accessing optimal human potential the feels empty of limitation but also fully embodied, interconnected, open hearted and naturally wise. By learning effortless mindfulness which begins to rewire your neuronal network you can return home to live from this natural awakened consciousness.
The coming together of ancient wisdom traditions, neuroscience and psychology today allows us to awaken in the midst of our daily lives. Let’s see how when we shift out of the small self and discover awake awareness it becomes our ground of being, a new view and a new “you.” Directly experiencing the awake awareness that is normally hidden in the background, is the key to awakening.
In many meditation systems, awareness, attention, and consciousness are treated as if they’re the same. In Western psychology, and even in our common speech, we often use the words aware and conscious as if they mean the same thing. For example, “I am aware of what I am reading” and “I am conscious of what I am reading.” We also use awareness and attention interchangeably, such as when we say, “Bring your attention to what you’re hearing” or “Bring your awareness to what you’re hearing.” When we conflate these terms, we are referring to awareness as a limited type of consciousness that is “between” self, as the subject, and an object, as in “I am aware of that cup.” In this case, awareness is the link between you—the one who is looking—and the cup, which is the object being seen.
Awake awareness is different from ordinary awareness, attention or consciousness. Awake awareness is not the intermediary between you and an object; it is the foundation of who you are and how you know. Our ordinary sense of “I” is felt to be located in our head, looking out of our eyes, made of self-reflective thinking, “I think therefore I am.”
Until we make the you-turn of awakening, awake awareness does not feel like the foundation of who I am but instead feels like it’s in the middle: “I am aware of seeing the cup.” Here, we are acting as if awareness were a functional tool of “I,” as something that connects me and objects around me (that are perceived as outside of me): “I am aware of seeing the cup.” Let’s look more closely at this process:
- “I” is a pattern of thought—small mind—that takes itself to be the subject.
- “Am” is currently connected to the “I” of small self instead of awake awareness.
- Awake awareness is reduced to being seen simply as “attention,” a tool for focusing. It’s considered to be an intermediary process rather than the foundation of who I am.
- “Seeing” is the particular sense that is being used in this example.
- “The cup” is the object of focus—the seen.
When local awake awareness does a “you-turn” and looks back, it sees through the small sense of self and discovers that awake awareness is no
w where “I am” is located.
The you-turn of awakening reverses the process of perceiving from you small mind. Webster’s dictionary defines attention as, “Applying your mind to something.” Paying attention can bankrupt your energy. Fortunately, there is another already installed option.
Awake awareness can move from being a mode of perception between you and something you observe to instead turning around and looking back through the mental pattern of “I” to find itself. Awake awareness becomes the primary location of observing. The “am” is no longer located within thinking but is now directly experienced as awake awareness aware of itself, your body, and the cup.
Try this glimpse practice to get a direct experience the you-turn from small self to no-self to true Self:
GLIMPSE: The You-Turn of Awakening
- Notice that you are aware of the object in front of you. Notice the feeling of going out from your eyes toward the object.
- Feel the process of “I am seeing the object.” Let your ordinary attention stay on the object.
- Now let local awake awareness unhook and move backwards to be aware directly from the space between you and the object.
- Let local awareness move back to be aware of the space between your eyes.
- Let local awareness move back to the space between your ears. Notice the absence of a focuser, thinker or small self.
- Now let local awareness rest back behind your body into the space behind.
- As local awareness rests back behind your body, notice that spacious awake awareness is already aware. Look from awake awareness, “Am I aware of spacious awareness or am I aware from the spacious awareness?”
- Notice as awake awareness being alert, thought-free, open and here.
- Feel from the awake awareness that is behind your body. As this awake awareness feel forward through your body to be connected with the object.
- Notice that awake awareness you are aware from is not located in your head or even in a mindful witness. Feel from the open field of awake awareness which is equally outside and within, arising as changing aliveness.
- Nothing to do, nowhere to go. Just be without orienting to thought to be alert. Welcoming everything without analyzing or particularizing. Familiarize here. Remaining undistracted without effort.
- Curiously: Who am I? What am I? Where am I aware from?
This post is an excerpt from Loch’s book, The Way of Effortless Mindfulness, where you can find more effortless mindfulness meditations.