Awareness Practice, 1
Article on Awareness Practice
What is an awareness practice? What is the point of practicing being aware? Can we become more aware? What is consciousness? What is awareness? These questions can be overwhelming. Many books are written on these topics. It may be more effective for us to pay attention to our intuitive, heart-oriented response to these questions rather than embark on a fact-based, mind-oriented approach.
In any moment, free from the onslaught of definitions, we all have and share the experience of being. This is an ongoing experience, though circumstances may shift this way and that. Situations change, but our fundamental ability to experience prevails. Let's call this ability to experience, consciousness. It makes sense, does it not? We all have it.
There are different types of consciousness. We may be familiar with the terms "subconscious" and "unconscious". There is a level of consciousness active while we are sleeping. There is a consciousness that accounts for the involuntary activity that goes on continuously in our bodies. We can take a leap here and make the assumption that consciousness is all-pervasive and active in every thing and in every circumstance-- consciousness in some form or another.
What then, is awareness? It is again something we all have. In any set of circumstances, we are aware by degrees of ourselves, our surroundings, etc. Awareness is something we can deepen. We can become more alert, attentive and present in each and every moment. The focus of our awareness can be directed by our interest. We may be oblivious to the world around us as we plummet deep into our subjective experience.
An awareness practice is any practice that stretches and deepens our capacity for awareness in any moment. We become more mindful and present to what is going on both within and without. Any form of meditation is an awareness practice. Meditation stills much of what ordinarily distracts us. As we continue to meditate, much of our internal dialogue that has dominated the space in our psyche drops away. What has kept our awareness shallow is our mind chattering.
To be deeply present in each moment is a beautiful thing. We are more able to enjoy and appeciate our lives and the life around us. We can smell the roses. We can make eye contact. We can more easily relax. An awareness practice can deepen our breath, and bring us greater health. Our day-to-day lives sometimes fill up with linear movement, hustle and bustle, and getting things done. The quality with which those things are done depend upon our presence-- depend on awareness while doing them.
We can see how life is both horizonal and vertical. Horizontal life is about doing. Vertical life is about presence. When we deepen our awareness, we find a greater balance between doing and non-doing, or rather activity and our capacity to be present in that activity. Meditation challenges us to drop all activity in order to strengthen and build this vertical axis of presence. At first we drop the activity, and then steadily we move towards dropping the prevailing thoughts about activity. Slowly but slowly, our capacity to be aware deepens and deepens. Great joy inevitably surfaces.