Awareness—of who we are, of who others are—is spiritual literacy, an essential skill for navigating life. We all see life through the filters of our beliefs and attitudes. We acquire those beliefs through experience, but while they may have served us well at one time, they are not always reliable or accurate. Sometimes those filters prevent us from seeing and experiencing life fully. They limit our freedom of choice and our ability to connect with ourselves and with life itself.
The clarity of our filters greatly determines our perception of the world around us. With Awareness we become conscious of those filters and of the difference between reality and our interpretation of reality. If, for example, I feel powerless in a given situation, how much of that powerlessness is generated by my own assumptions and beliefs, and how much of it is real? If I believe myself to be unlovable, when I look at others, do I see rejection, even where no rejection exists?
By helping us see reality, awareness frees us from the restriction of beliefs and assumptions that no longer serve us. It allows us to see the role we play in any given situation. If we can see our own role, we can change what we do. In this way, Awareness gives us freedom of choice. Freedom of choice means we are better able to engage with life constructively and powerfully.
Radical Awareness—of the world beyond what can normally see—is a spiritual experience. It’s often called a mystical state, a peak state, a journey into not knowing. When, through breathwork, therapy, meditation or other spiritual practices, we go beyond thinking, we enter a state of radical awareness. We feel vibrantly alive, at peace, in love with everything. We experience stillness even when life roils around us. We are fully engaged with life and with the richness of the present moment.
Mystical experiences can happen spontaneously to anyone, but are reached most reliably through clearing the filters that cloud our perception. When we let go of beliefs, experiences and attitudes that no longer serve us well, we are freed to enter a state of union with the present moment. In the present, we can engage with the gritty richness of life. We trust life, or rather we trust that everything in life is an opportunity to grow. And grow we must. The alternative is stagnation.
Often our most fertile opportunities for spiritual and psychological growth come from the dark times. The end of a relationship, the loss of a job, the loneliness of a home after the children have moved away, can seem devastating. But with Awareness and trust, come new and exciting opportunities and adventures. With Awareness, we can profit greatly from darkness and suffering.
These then are the components of Radical Awareness:
- Awareness of our self and reality
- Absorption in the present moment
- Growing from suffering
- Experiencing union with self and life
Together they form a practical guide to living life fully and abundantly every day.