By Jonathan Robinson
Congratulations on choosing to read this blog post. By giving your attention to an article such as this, it means you are spiritually advanced and want to awaken. But what does "awaken" mean? To me it means you shift your identity from feeling you’re an ego personality, to feeling like you are a loving awareness, and part of something beyond a limited ego. This shift in identity can last for a mere moment or it can last for your entire life, but either way, it feels timeless and eternal. In actuality, we are both an ego and a divine awareness, but we usually spend almost all our time thinking we’re an individual that’s separate from everything and everyone else. Unfortunately, true peace and love can’t be found when all we think we are is an ego personality. So how does one awaken—especially by reading a simple blog post? Well, first let me discuss how not to awaken when reading a blog post. Then once you see and let go of all the obstacles to awakening right now, actual awakening will be rather easy. So here goes…
The 3 Biggest Obstacles:
One obstacle to awakening right now is the fact that you may think it’s something that is not so easy to do. After all, you may have pursued awakening or enlightenment for many years. The thought that it takes a lot of effort to awaken is actually a major impediment to awakening to your true nature. The good news is your awareness is always in the background. You don’t need to create it. You just have to become aware that, behind your sense of being an individual ego is an awareness that is spacious, peaceful, and fully open to this moment. Your awareness is what allows you to read these words. In fact, awareness is like a movie screen in which your thoughts, emotions, and the world is projected upon. Normally, we get "lost" in whatever story is projected on the screen of our awareness. Right now you may be lost in the story of, "I’m reading a strange article about waking up." But behind whatever story you create of your current experience, there’s an awareness that just peacefully witnesses your experience. Can you sense it now—even if just a little?
A second obstacle keeping you from awakening now is the idea that awakening can happen only under certain ideal situations. The situation people think they need to awaken varies from person to person. Some people think they need a certain drug, or teacher, or meditation method, or circumstance. Yet, nothing is needed other than putting your full attention on this exact moment in a relaxed and open manner. Admittedly, that’s not so easy to do. We’re always moving on to the next moment, as if this moment is a bit of an inconvenience to some better future moment we want to get to. Well, the real prize is being fully here now, free of thinking that there is some better place to get to than right here.
A final obstacle to awakening now is the thought that you can awaken in the future—perhaps when you’re more ready or better prepared. I got news for you: in reality, there is no future. You and I have never spent a single moment of our life in "the future," and we never will. Life is a series of "now moments." When we get to an imagined future, we will once again be in another now moment. However, thinking we can do something in the future can be a major obstacle to doing whatever we can to awaken right this second. Indeed, either you awaken right now, or you don’t. There is no awakening in some imagined future.
Three Easy Ways to Awaken Now
So now that you’re aware of some obstacles to awakening, and you are perhaps more pointed in the "right" direction, I’m going to ask you to do some simple "awareness exercises" that can quickly take you to the experience of awakening. By doing three of these brief exercises in a row, I’m confident that you’ll have at least a glimpse of awakening. Once again, I define awakening as a shift in identity from thinking you’re an ego personality to realizing your true nature is an unbounded, peaceful awareness.
For your first exercise, I want you to imagine that you were just born. As a newborn, you don’t know what anything means or have labels for anything around you. In fact, you live in a world without words, labels, or descriptions. Things just are.
As best you can, take a moment now and look at the world free from words and free from your head trying to label and describe things. If you find the voice in your head still using words to describe stuff, simply relax and go back to tuning into seeing and hearing the world without words. Really do this now for 10 to 20 seconds.
Did you do it? If not, the voice in your head probably came up with some excuse like, "I can do it later." Don’t listen to that voice. That’s not "you," that’s just your mind that resists being fully here now.
However, if you did do it, great job. Was it an interesting experience? If so, you now have an effective method that can help tune you into the world of "Is-ness" rather quickly. When you find a method that can easily help you to feel the peace of your true nature, you have a friend for life. Of course, if that method didn’t do much of anything for you, that’s not a problem. Different people find different methods to be helpful. You may find the next exercise to be one that works better for you…
In this second exercise, I want you to become aware of what it feels like to be sitting somewhere reading this article. Notice any tension in your body, and as best you can, try to relax. Now include becoming aware of any sounds you hear in your environment… Become aware of any feelings or sensations arising in your body… Become aware of any thoughts going through your mind… Finally, become aware of the fact that you have a silent awareness registering all of these thoughts, sensations, and sounds.
Notice that this awareness doesn’t "do" anything. It just is always peacefully in the background, allowing you to experience whatever arises in your body and mind. Take a few moments to observe that this awareness feels peaceful, spacious, open, and fully present…Notice that everything you perceive of the world is "inside" this "container" of awareness, and that this awareness has always been in the background. In fact, this spacious awareness is who you really are.
If you were to describe this sense of awareness to someone who didn’t have any idea of what you were talking about, how might you describe it? Perhaps you could describe it intellectually as "the thing that allows you and me to experience life, or the thing that silently witnesses thoughts, senses, and feelings." Yet, you could also describe one’s awareness in terms of how it feels. You might say awareness feels spacious, open, vast, peaceful, or quiet. In fact, right now notice the part of you that feels fully present, open to whatever is happening, and is peaceful and quiet… It’s always there in the background, allowing you to take in all your sense impressions.
However, as you focus on simple awareness, it becomes more noticeable. All it takes is switching from focusing on what you are aware of in the world (such as your body, what you see, etc.), to focusing on what IS aware. As you do that, you may feel a shift from feeling you are a separate ego to feeling that you are a unbounded, loving awareness.
I hope you got at least a brief glimpse of your true nature as awareness. Like any ability, with practice you can get better at tapping into this "skill" of being the peaceful witness behind the often chaotic experience of day-to-day life. In crazy times like these, this ability of finding the place of peace and love inside yourself is like a magical tonic to the slings and arrows of life.
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