The Power of Awareness
Imagine going into a house in the middle of the night, the sky is cloudy, no stars and no moon. You walk in the front door. The house is dark. You can’t find the light switch. Finally, you find a small candle. It is very dim, but you can see a little bit. The house is very cluttered. Furniture and piles of stuff lying around. Yet as the light from the candle is so dim, you keep tripping over stuff in the dark. You fall down again and again and have to keep hauling yourself up from the ground. It gets very tiring.
A friend arrives and brings you a very large spotlight. When you turn it on, you can see the house clearly. You can see what is in the house more clearly. You can discern useful furniture and appliances. You can see piles of junk mail that is no longer needed. You can see pile of unfinished projects.
This demonstrated the Power of Awareness
Our body is the house. Within the body resides unfinished business and unnecessary thoughts, emotions and cellular memories. Also, within the body resided our inner knowing, necessary functions, abilities, good judgement.
By increasing awareness, we have the ability to see things more clearly. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. Sometimes we don’t want the awareness because we don’t want to see the bad and ugly. However, that only keep us stuck tripping over the mess and falling down and having to lift ourselves out of the mess again and again.
A dose of acceptance goes a long way
Along with awareness, an equal measure of acceptance is necessary. With acceptance we observe from a place of equanimity and use discernment to discover what is helpful and valuable and what can be discarded.
What clouds awareness
The greatest block to awareness is the mind. For most of us, our mind is going constantly day and night. There is very little space for awareness to shine through the business of the mind. To access awareness, we need to begin to break up the constant stream of thinking.
Tools to nurture awareness
Here are some tools to create gaps in the stream of thought and access awareness.
- By bringing you attention the breath for even a few moments can create a gap in the thoughts. Give it a try right now. See what happens with you pause to focus on your breath. If you have even a 3 second gap between the thought, that is a great starting place.
- Slowing down the breath. Slowing down the breath takes more attention away from your thoughts and can create additional gaps in the breath.
- Become conscious of your surroundings. Really see and feel the chair you are setting on. Touch the table in front of you. Notice the feel of the surface and the colors. Look at the walls and notice pictures and other things hanging on the walls. Go outside and look at the sky; admire the flowers beginning to bloom; the trees getting buds; the snow on the ground.
- Truly see other people. The next person you encounter, stop thinking for a few minutes and really look at them. See them. Let go of your thoughts about them. See their face, their body posture, the expression they wear. What can you observe beyond your chronic thoughts about them?
These tools will allow you to begin to break the addiction of thinking and open to moments of the awareness the already exists beyond the mind.
This week, practice taking mini awareness breaks using some of the suggestions above or creating your own.