The goal? Raising our awareness and consciousness using only two 4-minute solitudes a day. Every day. For thirty straight days.
What is the difference between “living” and being “alive”? Between fulfillment and dissatisfaction? How, in a world of questionable sanity, can one lead a more fulfilling life, a life that embraces love, happiness and gratitude? We live in an age of technological marvel beyond any experienced in our collective history. At a time when so many have access to so much information, knowledge and connection, how is it that so many of us seem so lost, disconnected and afraid? What truly is “the difference that makes the difference” between a man living in what most reading this would consider total poverty – emotional, physical, financial, social – who still radiates a light, who holds a grace and a sense of gratitude, and a man whom, while living in apparent prosperity, is nevertheless angry, disconnected and dissatisfied?
I believe the answer is a simple one. Awareness. Or, perhaps, consciousness.
As Eckhart Tolle extolls in his book, “A New Earth”, and as have so many, if not all, spiritual philosophers, self-help gurus and life coaches, we are not our thoughts. Rather, we are the awareness of our thoughts. A simple yet profound idea, and it has been at the core of many a great teacher’s work – the pre-Socratic Greeks, Buddha, Christ, etc., across all cultures. Awareness. Awareness of ourselves leads to awareness of the world and its divinely connected nature, which leads to consciousness. A place beyond our thoughts, the constant dialogues and diatribes, the confusion that arises between what’s real and what’s merely thought. Measuring everything, so many of us plow through living like judgment machines. We categorize everything against our past, against all the thought-baggage we carry around. All our little and large tales and stories about what the world is, how people are, and all the things that separate us.
It’s often very difficult to step back from the mind chatter and slip into the space of awareness, the gap to consciousness. There can be a phenomenal amount of distraction in a typical modern, westernized person’s life. Ever greater demands from our jobs, our families, our friends, can often make it seem impossible to create some time, let alone some time isolated from others in a quiet space, a sacred space. And that’s if we are even aware enough of our lives to notice how badly we need that sacred space.
How many people, yourself included, feel and experience what many would call stress? If your experience is in anyway symptomatic of my own, then the answer is quite a few, including yourself. What causes stress? I would say while there are lots of “reasons” or “events” or “situations” that we can so quickly point to, it is really caused by dissatisfaction. Unease with our lives and with ourselves. Identifying ourselves by our thoughts and by the people, places and “stuff” in our lives. When we live like this, we are not truly alive, or better put, we are not “being alive”. We are like machinery, running our programmed responses and habits. We are living Low Conscious/Low Awareness lives. There is not a lot of real possibility, real play, joy or happiness and fulfillment available to us. We chase shadows. Forms. Things. But there is only temporary relief, an illusory satisfaction that is similar to eating a good meal. The feeling of fullness, of being satiated, passes over time. The same is true when we chase the external and identify our self image, self worth, self esteem with that which we think and chase. We are not our jobs, or our hobbies, or even the things we love and we are certainly not the objects and stuff we surround ourselves with. We are the awareness of them.
But disconnecting ourselves in the midst of a life that entails jobs, families, friends, obligations and plugging into the divine, plugging into our higher selves can well seem impossible. So what do we do? We tend to wish and hope for change. We promise ourselves that “tomorrow” or “this Sunday”, or “after the kids go back to school” that we will embark on a program, a practice, a mission to finally do it – whatever “it” may be for each of us as an individual.
This idea of trying to open the door, even if just a bit, to create the gap in which awareness can blossom – and even flower and turn into consciousness – is what has lead me to engage Zengirl and others in a conversation about awareness and consciousness and, in particular, how to lead a more conscious life. That question, along with the conversations, is what planted the seed for this ongoing experiment that I hope springs from this simple page on a small blog.
The tools? An image and a word each day. You could think of them like the front and back of a Conscious Life Experiment Card. A small notebook to record thoughts and observations.
The method? A two part system.
PART 1: 3 Minutes. You stop by each day and look at the day’s post for CLE. Close your eyes. Notice your breathing. Slow it to a deep, slow rhythm. Feel the tension in your body. Begin to consciously relax your body, letting yourself sag a bit. Begin with the shoulders and move down. Open your eyes and stare at the image. Allow yourself to float a bit with it. Notice the feelings the colors and shapes elicit in you. Notice any shapes, symbols, faces, figures, totems or anything else you see.
PART 2: 1 Minute. Look at the word for that day. Jot down your first thoughts and feelings about the word. These are most likely the most meaningful to you, or a pointer to what meanings and feelings you’ve assigned to this word. Now, keep the word with you in your consciousness for the rest of your day. Notice how it applies to situations and events during your day. The world is the great teacher. The world will show you the way.
IMPORTANT POINT: Do not become apprehensive if the word for the day conjures “negative” feelings or if it feels like a “negative” word. Remember, that which we resist will persist. No word is “negative” on its own. It only becomes “negative” by the associations and meanings we give to it in our minds. Awareness and consciousness to those meanings is the doorway to freedom. To joy. To fulfillment. Know thyself.
Repeat the process in the evening, before bed. Notice any changes in feelings or thoughts about both the image and the word you may have.
Now this may sound very simple and you may be wondering just how this is going to lead you to write your great novel, record your symphony, give your best performance or how it will help with the dinner party you’re hosting this weekend. In answer to that, I can only say that by increasing your awareness, by giving yourself a grand total of eight minutes a day to shift away from the outer world, you will begin creating a space, a gap, in which a greater awareness, a greater consciousness can expand. That will assist you in all the things that are most important to you. And you may discover that things that seemed very important are not “all that”, and that that which may seem less important now, is actually quite so. You may find a path you didn’t know existed.
So that’s that. A simple 30-day experiment in raising our awareness and consciousness and, in turn, our levels of joy, gratitude and happiness.
Care to join me?
We begin soon…
As always your thoughts, opinions and ideas are welcomed and treasured.
Yours in creating new possibilities in creative living,
P.S. As always, my gratitude, appreciation and love to my muse, my teacher, my beloved Zengirl. She is the fuel and the fire.