The Power of Awareness: Liberate Your Inner Witness

We develop filters through which we see reality from the moment we’re born—some would say from the moment we’re conceived. Like the lenses opticians try out when we go for a sight test, our filters either blur or clarify our view of the world. And like my client, we often grow up unaware that we even have filters. We accept what we see as being an accurate assessment of the way things are and we action based on those assessments. Our precious lives are shaped by those actions. Being able to stand back and recognize that we’re seeing through filters is quite a skill, the skill of Awareness.

Read more about how to see life more clearly in The Power of Awareness – Liberate Your Inner Witness published in Sibyl Magazine


The Power of Acceptance: The Foundation of Effective Communication

The Power of Acceptance – The Foundation of Effective Communication, my third of twelve articles on the power of acceptance in Sibyl Magazine’s March edition.

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” -Maya Angelou
“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality” -Earl Nightingale

Reality Part 2

kitten, lion, mirror, self-reflection, awareness

I recently read an essay called ‘Psychology, Reality and Consciousness’ by Daniel Goleman.  He writes about multi-level consciousness and how Western culture permits only one interpretation of reality – that which we perceive when we are awake in ordinary daily life or “waking state awareness.”

Other cultures permit multi-state consciousness where reality varies depending on your level and type of awareness.  Multi-states of consciousness, which we often ethnocentrically call Altered States, are well documented in eastern texts and in western writing on transpersonal psychology.

What does all this have to do with the price of anything?  Well, do we accept our lot in life or fight against it?  That’s a common question, at least in my life.  New Age types vote for acceptance, atheists and social justice types say fight.  But framing the issue through waking state conscious is seriously limiting.  If we see only A and B, acceptance or fight, we will be stuck on one side or the other of a narrowly defined problem.  But what we see depends very much on how we see, on our state of consciousness.  If we permit alternative states to emerge, a whole world of alternative realities opens up.

Emigration is once again a reality around the world.  Emigration brings a particularly intense and painful form of loneliness.  An emigrant at least initially, lives in a world where they know maybe a few people superficially and nobody intimately.  That is their current immutable reality.  Lincoln’s dog (see Quotes for Living:  Abraham Lincoln).  Given a single state consciousness, the choices are limited.  The emigrant can return home to a different kind of pain.  They can battle loneliness with an intense and often desperate burst of socializing and wait until some relationships take root.  They can drink away their loneliness, as many do.

In another state of consciousness, reality presents very differently.  In other states, reality can be an intense experience of union – union with what really doesn’t need to be defined.  In this state, loneliness doesn’t exist.  So how would the absence of loneliness affect the immutable reality of being alone in a foreign country?

A lonely person often comes across as needy.  Neediness generally repels rather than attracts.  Conversely and ironically, a deep state of inner union can be magnetic.  The effect:  that period of initial socializing can be gentler, more measured and have far quicker and healthier results.  In other words, the altered state of awareness can affect what appears to be immutable reality.

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” – Abraham Lincoln

Living With Reality

Tooshar Exploring the Bog

“It is what it is!” I hear that phrase a lot, or its spiritual variant “Embrace reality.” ‘It is what it is!’ is usually accompanied by a shrug of resignation, like there’s no choice but to accept what can’t be changed.

As I write this, my dog, Tooshar, is curled up on the rug gnawing on a rawhide bone, a picture of relaxed contentment. She’s eight, or middle aged in doggie terms and last year her life changed completely. She moved from Dublin, Ireland to California, USA with no choice in the matter. In Dublin she raced every day around a local park chasing birds she knew she’d never catch. Here, in California, her evening walk is a sedate ramble around an urban block, securely leashed. In Dublin, on weekends, she ranged freely through the mountains, leaping exultantly across undulations of turf and heather and bog cotton, navigating by smell. Here she gets to sniff her way along feral cat tracks in the few city parks that permit dogs.

I feel sorry for her and how her life has been diminished by forces outside her control, namely me. She, on the other hand, is relaxed, content and perfectly at peace exploring the greatly reduced yet equally fascinating corners of her shrunken world. She accepts what is without the shrug of resignation. In other words, she truly accepts – no second guessing, no martyrdom, no wishful gazing upon what might or should or could be. And it has eliminated the kind of suffering most humans seem to go through when confronted by circumstances they can’t change. She has no place in her doggie awareness for how things should be. She’s busy living with how they actually are.

Some questions beg to be answered here:  Should we always accept reality?  Are there some situations we should fight against?  Or is there a greater spiritual reality that transcends all of this?


Getting Rationality Out of The Way.

Conscious, aware connection with the life force is natural, but there are road blocks along the way.  One of the  biggest blocks of all is our dependence on rationality.  Einstein again, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

So for many, the first step on the way to mystical experience, is to recognize the limits of the rational mind.  I’m not talking about suspending rationality at all, just about recognizing its limits.  The great Sufi poet Hafiz described it as “Pulling out the chair/Beneath your mind/And watching you fall upon God.”

There is a place for rationality, for asking why and demanding an answer.  There is great value in insisting that opinion be based on fact rather than fiction.  You have only to turn to modern evangelical religion, of any tradition, to see what happens when rationality is thrown out the window. 

But to touch our spiritual nature we need to become humble about our intellect.  We need  to recognise that there are things we do not know and cannot know with the intellectual tools we acquired in school.   Useful as they may be, they have their limitations.  Truly recognising this fact opens the often scary world of not knowing.  That world is mysterious and often uncharted, but it is also the territory where our spiritual nature emerges into awareness.               

Step one:  Recognise that your mind can’t know or understand everything and to gain awareness, you have to go beyond it.           

Everyone has something to teach.   Share your wisdom – make a comment.