We have already talked about awareness in our previous articles “The alchemy of joy” and “Have you ever wondered who you are? “ even without mentioning it directly.
In those articles, we have referred to a basic activity, preliminary to awareness, called observation, presenting it in a more or less introductory way, nonetheless considering it indispensable when it comes to reaching a good level of autonomy and mastery in daily interactions and in becoming conscious creators of our own destiny in harmony with our natural inclinations and predispositions, rather than being at the mercy of our unconscious mechanisms that most of the times are sabotating us.
The two terms awareness and observation however are not entirely synonymous.
Observation is the very ability to observe, that is, to focus your awareness, using a certain degree of detachment, on what happens both inside and outside of you as you go through a specific experience.
According to Osho, observation is not included among the activities of our mind, as it is performed on a higher level; this is proven by the fact that when you stop and observe your inner processes, your mental activity inevitably ceases; If you are thinking about something, you stop thinking; if you are experiencing a either pleasant or painful feeling, observation creates a gap between you and what you perceive, modifying in some way the perception itself, which can take on a different connotation. Just to give one of the many examples, when you experience an inner sensation, let’s say a pain, a rage or sadness, you can notice that in the beginning you perceive it in a given area of your body and that, with observation, it can move to another area. Usually, sensations linked to a mood are felt at the level of the solar plexus, or also in the heart or the throat area.
When you do not use our power to observe, you become unaware, and this triggers a different process: right after you feel uneasiness due to an unpleasant experience, your ordinary mind (or inferior mental body) begins to produce a flow of judgments and complaints, creating a field of negative vibrations inside and around you that brings you down and dissipates your energies.
Awareness is the state of consciousness that you come to experience through careful observation.
This mental state resides above your ordinary mind and, although in the beginning it may appear almost unconceivable to achieve, it can be acquired with training, in the same way as a physical exercise.
At first it seems almost impossible to stop and observe an emotion before it starts; you usually react and only later you check your inner state and reconsider what has happened. Going on with the practice of observation, you make progresses, until you are able to intercept and inhibit your mechanical reaction before it takes place: with time, you increment your level of detachment which will be never again lost, even if sometimes you may have the feeling that you had a regression, or, often, especially at the beginning, you happen to fall back into mechanical behaviors and then return back into “that state “.
When this happens, you need not recriminate or blame yourself, yet forgive yourself and accept the level of mastery that you have achieved that far and start with perseverance to practice again.
Awareness, through careful observation, allows you, while you go through an event, to focus your attention on both the inside and the outside, in this way coming to recognize your inner processes ( Mental, emotional, physical) and the life episode (an altercation, an accident, an alleged injustice, a mourning, but also an unexpected joy) as manifestations of a single reality, in which you can take on your responsibility as a creator. Thanks to awareness you can see that at a deeper vibrational level you have attracted and co-created that situation, because your inner emotional and/or mental state have generated a vibrational field that, by the Law of Attraction or Law of Resonance, have prompted in our reality those certain people and Events.
Obviously, these either pleasant or unpleasant events happening in your life generate inner processes that, if manifested unconsciously through your behavior, surely have repercussions at all possible different levels; these repercussions range from the most insignificant and trivial ones that can derive from a common rage shot to those with more dramatic consequences, and, when their underlying mechanisms are not solved through the practice of awareness, they can be carried on from life to life, affecting you as well as all those who are involved in those events (Law of Karma).
Let’s analyse in a specific way what happens by giving an example:
Someone insults you and you go on a rampage… Your heartbeat rises, your breath accelerates, your fists clench and you rant back against those who have threatened your survival…; that’s right! …survival! your biology proves that while you think you are responding out of a sense of justice, your reaction is triggered far before the moment your reasoning is engaged in the process: this is because it stems from ancestral memories based on the chemical/physical stimulation of the same areas of the brain (amygdala, in the limbic system) that were activated in prehistoric men when, in extreme situations and in the span of very small fractions of a second they had to defend themselves against the wild forces of nature.
This mechanical reaction prevents you from seeing reality for what it is, because it is activated extremely rapidly (we are talking about 15 thousandths of a second). The amygdala, in fact, is closely linked to fear and it triggers anxious and impulsive reactions, pushing you to action.
If, instead of reacting, you just use your attention to feel what is going on inside and outside of you, “dwelling” in your emotion, observing, without either repressing nor expressing it even if it is extremely painful, you come to re-cognize (that is: to know again) that old, ancestral feeling that crosses your energetic field once again (on an esoteric level every emotion is seemingly a portal: it is the same old vibration that repeats itself from life to life, perpetuating similar situations until it is recognized, made conscious and healed) and this recognition, made possible by the state of careful presence you are in, frees you from that load of energy that generates the perpetuation of events and conditions having the same vibrational frequency that make you suffer. You also come to the clear perception that everything happens NOT TO YOU yet WITHIN YOU.
Your reaction, also, is not limited to the moment the event takes place: as you probably know, later on, you often recall the incident, usually more than once, and activate your imagination with useless scenes of revenge and retaliation that do not help you in any way, yet they activate in you once again those chemical/physical toxic substances that cause you the same suffering; when this happens it is recommended that once again you make yourself aware of the process and start consciously to dwell in your emotions and thoughts keeping on with the practice observation.
Another reason why awareness is also recommended in this case is because of the presence in your brain of mirror neurons. These neurotransmitters cause your body to experience your imagined scenario as real, as if really happening in real life, because for your unconscious mind there is no difference between imagination and reality. So, a fantasy of hurting or killing someone, even if it is just happening in your mind, generates the same psycho-physiological effects that a real event would cause in the short term and, in the long term, those karmic effects that perpetuate similar events from life to life.
It may feel unnatural to have to observe your emotions in a detached way, because, although sometimes they are painful, they give color and taste to your life… at your ordinary level of perception they make you feel you exist, they make you feel “alive”.
But, after experiencing a higher state of consciousness through which you can observe them, you come to see how illusory they are and that true joy and the true experience of life happen beyond pleasure and pain.
Awareness is your salvation.
It is a prerogative of your higher mind also called “causal body” (and also of the even higher levels, see art. on the Aura and the subtle bodies), which promotes abstract processing, and allows to see the overall picture.
For this reason, it dwells beyond the extremes and integrates the opposites, allowing the transcendence of duality, and transmits the intuition to your ordinary mind for an adequate, constructive and creative action.
By practicing awareness you can choose the most appropriate response to each situation, rather than reacting unconsciously on the basis of the conditioning of your past experiences.
This is so because it involves the activity of the most evolved areas of your brain:
– the neocortex, which is activated in the presence of emotions or feelings that require reflection rather than immediate action and which promotes more refined reactions;
– the prefrontal lobes, which are responsible for regulating emotional states, turning off gross emotions (left lobe) and controlling fear and aggression (right lobe).
However, these areas of the brain are slightly slower to activate than the amygdala; they come into play after at least 25 thousandths of a second; a gap of only 10 milliseconds but significant for our nervous system.
Experts in the field of somatic responses to emotions, in fact, have observed that even on the face of those who have a remarkable mastery and ability in controlling their inner state, there appears a wee sign of the primary emotion, even if the behavioral reaction is perfectly managed and controlled, and that this wee sing is caused by this milliseconds gap in which the most primitive areas of the brain are activated before the more evolved ones can come into play.
Let’s take a look at how a meaningful experience can be managed through the light of awareness:
let’s consider again the previous episode, in which your opponent has insulted you and your anger has exploded generating all the dynamics that we have described above; at that point the most adequate response to carry out a transmutation is to “dwell on the perception of your rising emotion” neither repressing nor expressing it, but simply observing it, “going deeply into it”, experiencing it in all its intensity by accepting it without judgment.
Not always the first attempt to transmute the energetic charge of any emotion is possible, but, by practicing observation, each time you become more and more familiar with it, you learn to manage its intensity and gradually you acquire a new ability to feel it, until one day, your unconscious mechanism breaks apart in a flash of awareness that brings a sense of liberation and renewed and reintegrated vitality.
That is, the energy previously blocked in your emotion is released and starts flowing again freely. With time and a good insight, you can come to acknowledge your underlying inner condition that generates that specific mechanism.
Of course, in the beginning you are more concerned with managing the external situation, so you literally “forget” to be present at the inner dynamics and to include observation in the process, but with commitment and good will you will certainly obtain results.
However, you must forgive yourself if you cannot avoid to get involved into a fight, into a hassle or to explode into an emotional outburst, the important thing is to keep yuor commitment with yourself and persevere by trying again.
Furthermore, by practicing attentive presence, you learn to perceive the reaction of your body to your emotions and learn how to control them to the benefit of your health and, with due perseverance, you learn not to let our mind indiscriminately generate gross thoughts of complaint, judgment, victimhood, guilt, condemnation, etc., and, again, not to let your imagination create scenarios of violence, revenge and negativity.
You can therefore avoid creating negative thought forms and/or perform destructive actions.
You become a master.
The most significant result you obtain, in fact, is that you learn to NOT REACT, rather to ACT consciously through the most appropriate attitude.
By practicing self-observation, also referred to by those who practice it work on one’s self, you are raising towards a higher level of consciousness: indeed this is the true essence of any spiritual path.
In fact, by taking a closer look to the spiritual practices, like mantras, prayers, and so on, you can see that they are precious instruments through which everyone can find the way to rise and connect to the higher levels.
But even these tools, to be effective, must be practiced with a certain level of awareness, presence and devotion, otherwise they fail their purpose and, if mechanically used, they can instead contribute to your “sleep”, driving you into the opposite direction than that of your spiritual intentions, giving you, if anything, only a pleasant sense of relaxation.
Not to mention the possibility that, through them, you can get stuck in the entanglement of the fictitious energetic eggregores generated by the thought forms of all those who invoke Spiritual Figures or Divinities, and fail to move forward beyond the veil of illusion, in order to truly access the source of Light in which these Great Beings dwell in their true essence.
Those who have reached higher levels of consciousness, such as a Buddha, a Jesus, a Krishnamurti, in fact, were able to experience a real Awakening and, consequently, they saw that human beings live in a state of deep sleep, completely identified with thier mental contents which continually and unconsciously they project onto the external world, creating thier own daily reality, which by these Masters is defined, for this reason, illusion.
Humans create situations through their unconscious mind and, by continuing reacting to events unconsciously, they feed that collective energy field of gross thoughts and low vibrations (matrix) in which they don’t realize are immersed, perpetuating its existence endlessly.
Even psychotherapy, where necessary, can be integrated by the practice of awareness, when analysis proves to be an arduous and disproportionately long path.
Awareness is like a fire that burns all illusions. It is the road to self-mastery and peace.
According to the most enlightened Masters of all ages, it represents our highest degree of freedom.
Masters such as Osho, the Buddha, but also Jesus in some verses of the Bible, ceaselessly used to recommend to “Be Vigilant” or not to “fall asleep”, as we can see for example in the episode of Gethsemane.
However, to achieve a high degree of awareness and become well estabilished on a higher level of consciousness, it is recommended that you do some presence exercises at certain times of the day, rather than staying constantly alert while there are no particular events. It seems that results are more effective if you practice 5 minutes a day, for a period of 40 continuative days, at the same hour, better if during activities that do not particularly absorb your mind, such as taking a walk or doing house cleaning (it is called the bridgehead exercise) to obtain significant results. With this exercise, however, if you forget to practice one day or let your mind slip too soon you must start all over again. Or can you decide to pay attention to what goes through your mind every time you go through a door or while you eat or, again, while you get dressed up. Another exercise could be to try and be present while you bring the fork to your mouth as you eat and give full attention to the taste of food, and, if your mind starts wandering, bring it back to the action you are doing and get again deep into it in a total way by “becoming” that action and leaving space only to it. You can practice the slow walk, by observing every single step or focusing on your breath, in all cases keeping the mind from wandering, and trying to extend your stay in the “here and now”. Exercises are plenty, the important thing is to choose the one that suits you best.
Besides the specific practice of exercises, the overall ability lies in keeping your uncontrolled fantasies at bay, that is, trying and keeping your mind from wandering and jumping from one thought to another through its continuous associative processes, which are stimulated by odors, sounds, memories, and any other inner or external stimulus that triggers that connection of images, thoughts, feelings and emotions that is usually otherwise beyond your control.
As you become more and more aware and able to manage your thoughts and emotions, you improve your capacity of concentration and mental efficiency and you have a direct experience of how your inner state determines the happening of external events.
You also learn to use awareness in discerning your thoughts, words, emotions and actions, by choosing those which are uplifting and that promote well-being and a loving attitude for yourself and for those around you, including nature, animals, plants.
You will be more and more aware of how interconnected you are with your neighbour and of the consequent responsibility you have as a human being.
You’ll learn to consciuously choose your partner, your job and career, your hobbies and so on.
In this you will also increase your creativity because by paying attention to the outside world in a conscious way you become an empath and responsibly take into account the long-term consequences of what you do and think, thus assuming the conscious role of co-creator in promoting what serves the common good.
In fact, the ultimate goal of your inner work is to heal the sense of separation and to promote unity through the respect for the uniqueness and preciousness of each living being; awareness allows all this.
(To explain awareness from a mere intellectual level can only give an idea of how you can try and manage the various situations that happen to you in your everyday life. This article, although it has covered the main points, is just a hint, a small introduction and cannot give all the details of such a wide and delicate subject like awareness in a comprehensive way. It is recommended, for a thorough understanding that helps your logical mind, that you participate to the courses and seminars of divulgators who have reached a certain level of awareness and inner depth and therefore are able to pass their message on a subtle level, in order to stimulate your higher mind. I hope that you can find the master who, through a vibrational affinity, can help you grow in this sense, Atma Namaste).
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