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Chapter 3

  • What does it mean to be aware?

  • How do we become more aware?

    Awareness defined simply means, here and now. There is much we can learn about awareness and even more that we can achieve by understanding it. This newsletter will clarify some of these points. It will start by explaining how we can recognise and acknowledge our awareness and then delve deeper on how we can benefit from awareness in our lives.

    We all have a unique path, a particular way of meditation that works for us, a unique way of being aware. We must discover the way rather than imposing a formula or assuming that there is one path that is right for all of us. We all use different techniques for meditation. We may use music or visualisations to inspire us. By Becoming more aware we are aware of what our "style" of Awareness is. Awareness helps us to know our self and will enable us to develop a particular meditation technique that makes us happy.

    Just a few moments of quiet, simple meditation will make us more aware of the qualities of Awareness. By sitting down, and paying attention to what we are experiencing, in our body, and in our mind we enhance our capacity to become aware. If it is comfortable, the breath can provide a focus for our attention. As we become more aware of the breath, we also become aware of our Awareness of the breath.

    As we hear sounds, or feel sensations in the body, we become aware that we are hearing, or feeling. We become aware of our Awareness of the sound or sensation. We suddenly become aware of our thoughts and plans. Our Awareness is aware that it is simultaneously hearing, sensing, thinking, and paying attention to the breath. In the space of a very few minutes we can experience how very aware we already are, now.

    That stopping to notice our Awareness is an important step in developing our technique. As we stop to notice the awareness we develop the ability to stop. When we stop to notice our Awareness, we become aware of our choices. We develop the ability to notice our behavior patterns. We notice habits. We begin to understand our actions better. A continuity of Awareness begins to happen, a thread that can be pick up throughout the day. We become better acquainted with our environment and our actions.

    We might get out of the car take a moment to stop. While standing there for that brief moment we become aware of our feet on the ground, the breeze blowing against our face, the sound of the traffic in the street. By Becoming aware of being aware,  that state of Awareness will be our guide. This doesn't sound very exciting, but those moments of Awareness add depth, flavor, texture and richness to life. By being aware we stop the normal train of thoughts that express our worries, fears, and anger. Yet we can still enjoy our nicer thoughts and interact with everything around us.

    For example, we can notice an old habit pattern of self-judgment arising and recognize that we have the choice, in that moment of Awareness, to transform that judgment into compassion for our self. An expanded Awareness, an Awareness of being aware, carries us into an expanded world, where at any given moment there are many more possibilities of how we can interact with the world around us or with our own internal state. There are more pathways to choose from, fewer walls, restrictions and limitations.

    By being able to stop our mind for even the briefest of moments we start to step out of the wheel of conditioned behavior that constantly says, "I'm busy, what matters is that I get to my next task, I can't stop". In that moment, no matter how simple, our experience of Awareness, we experience freedom from the ordinary way of being. We can continue with our life and all the time - we are still aware!

    Using Nature

    Another way to become more aware of Awareness is to choose a simple focus from the natural world. A certain kind of tree, bird, flower, or clouds in the sky, or whatever we feel connected with. A common point of focus that we are likely to encounter throughout the day will increase the choice. We begin to notice our focus as we progress through the day. Take a moment to connect with the raven flying overhead or the oak tree on the corner. It should be just a moment of noticing, not a long involved communication. This makes us become aware of ourself, the world we move in, and makes us  interconnect with our sorroundings. 

    Greater Awareness does not necessarily promise us constant happiness, abundance, or the fulfillment of all our desires. It certainly brings expanded opportunities for all these. How often have we looked back and realised we have missed opportunities because we have not recognised them or been too engrossed in our thoughts to acknowledge them. Becoming aware of our Awareness and living from that Awareness is an on-going process. There are two fundamental aspects of this process: one is to become more aware of how aware we are. The second is to allow that Awareness to transform and release our conditioned self.

    However the process of becoming more aware can at times be painful. We become more and more aware of what is in our heart, mind, and soul. It gets harder to ignore our feelings, intuitions, or knowledge. We also become aware of those destructive conditioned patterns of behavior from our past running over and over again. However, new information helps to break the loop of old habit patterns and conditioning. Awareness provides us with the opportunity to realise what we want from our self and our life and be able to pin-point our weaknesses. This constant new information can be used to develop and refine our feelings, intuitions, and knowledge. So next time you are meditating or waiting for that bus practice being Aware and over time you will see the benefits.

    (c)Copyright 2001 Pleasuredrome