Are You Awakening?

Are You Awakening?

 

Listen this week to the Chaos & Light Podcast as we ask Are You Woke or Awake (or Both)?

 

The awakening process for some is gradual with spikes of growth followed by plateaus of processing and integration. For others, it can be an abrupt and disorienting experience. Usually brought on by a life change, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, job loss, or illness. Sometimes a person faces an unusual experience that cannot be explained by their current worldview, prompting them to explore others. In whatever way it presents itself, it is a journey towards more presence and meaning. Here are a few common conditions that accompany our awakening.

“Spiritual awakening – is becoming awake to the aliveness of this moment.”
~Eckhart Tolle

Life Becomes Uncomfortable

There tends a be a general unraveling of the status quo right before a person accepts this conscious path. As mentioned, this can be brought on by an outward event or just a sense of decreasing satisfaction in the normal. Maybe the usual gossip or celebrity news that once was interesting has now become inane. Or perhaps a bad habit feels increasingly misaligned and is impossible to ignore. People, places or ideas become ill-fitting and we grow weary of trying to make them fit. This discomfort is just a signal of a readiness to grow and evolve beyond our current mode of being.

Exploring Purpose and Meaning

An awakening is really a destructive experience that is both spiritual and philosophical. We watch our illusions and identities fall away as we make space for new understandings. This dismantling leads us to explore some high-level questions about life. We ache for purpose and the meaning of existence and seek out tools and techniques that aid us in finding significance. This prompts us to begin a meditation or yoga practice or become voracious readers on all things spiritual. There is joy in the questioning itself not necessarily in finding all the answers.

“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”
~Ramana Maharshi

Witnessing Our Stories

An important piece in this process is learning the value of witnessing our stories and the stories of others. These are all the things we tell ourselves about who we are and how the world operates. We begin to understand through being present that our thoughts and emotions are not really who we are. They are data points, not our core essence or true nature. Sometimes this means we take a 30 000 foot view of the world and/or situation. Or do a deep inner excavation of our beliefs, expectations and ‘the shoulds’ that drive our behavior. Awakening is being able to witness the story without reacting from it. We do this, for example, by recognizing the way the Victim, Wounded Child or the Addict archetypes show up and dominate our thoughts. We understand that the stories we tell ourselves either empower us or keeps us stuck.

 Taking Responsibility

There is a certain re-framing of situations that happen as we move through this process. This is the movement from seeing life as happening to us, to being the co-creator of our lives. This doesn’t mean that unfortunate things won’t happen but how we respond to those circumstances is up to the individual. We also start to recognize our shadow side, the places where unresolved trauma and false beliefs rule our behavior. We learn not to see our shadow from a place of shame, guilt or fear but rather as an opportunity to be empowered. This means not putting other people in charge of our well-being or trying to control others through our wounds.

 Having Unique Experiences

When we first start to notice the patterns and synchronicities that surround us, it can be a magical thing. We begin to see the divinity in things that used to go unnoticed. It could start as simple as someone recommending a new book and then hearing about that book several times over the next week. These synchronicities are like the universe’s breadcrumbs assisting us and acknowledging our conscious efforts. 

Peak experiences are another example. They are moments of profound connection or unity to all that is. This could be the ‘aha’ moment where suddenly something makes total sense or the feeling of awe when looking over a valley from a mountain top. This can also be a feeling of bliss or ecstatic joy when we see or feel Truth. These experiences assist us in not only having an intellectual understanding but also move us into the experience of being alive in a dynamic, emergent universe.

“Your greatest awakening comes, when you are aware about your infinite nature.”
~ Amit Ray

Wherever you are on your awakening journey, remember to be compassionate with yourself. This isn’t a race or a competition. It is an invitation to find passion, purpose, and meaning in our lives. A continuous and ever unfolding process connecting us to deeper truths. This path isn’t always easy or filled with joy. Some places are dark, messy and destructive, but it is a richer, fuller existence. For me, it is the stuff of life.

 

 Listen this week to the Chaos & Light Podcast as we ask Are You Woke or Awake (or Both)?

 

 

Moving Beyond Symbolic Consciousness

Moving Beyond Symbolic Consciousness

Symbolic consciousness has seized control of the evolutionary dynamics of life on Earth and deeply impoverished the planetary ecology. – Peter Reason

Imagine a world without language, images or the written word. Imagine an organism with awareness of self, a sense of community and yet no way to share their world with another. An intense inner world fueled by instinct and survival and yet a consciousness that understands our connection. It was out of this that the world as we know it evolved today.

We have always been connected. The same ingredients that gave birth to the cosmos are the same things that we are made of; we are of the stars. If we were to look at the history of the universe in an hour time frame, humans have only existed in the last minute on earth. Yet we have changed the earth in amazing ways. Recently, I watched an eye-opening documentary that helped me to understand how our earth evolved into this increasingly complex world that we now live in. In Journey of the Universe, they answer the question, how did this happen? What was the catalyst that propelled civilization into exponential growth and where do we go from here?

Evolution of the Cosmos

Fourteen billion years ago the universe exploded with life in what some scientists call “Goldilocks Conditions”, any hotter or cooler and the expansion would have quickly imploded or collapsed back into nothing. In these perfect conditions, a universe was born. Around 4 and half billion years ago the earth and our sun were formed. Again, our planet seemingly divinely guided in its creation, as the perfect conditions conspired that resulted in our creation. The earth at this point was governed by what Dr. Frank Heile would describe as a primary consciousness. This is the consciousness that permeates the natural world. If we think of it like a computer, it would be a parallel processor giving rise to the self-organizing dynamic that scientist now believe is the natural order of things. This primary consciousness has a present moment awareness, that created patterns and intelligence that coded all of life. Yet, it wasn’t until the time of man that things began to grow in ever more complex ways as we burst beyond this primary consciousness into symbolic consciousness. While there is much debate about what triggered this, there is one very interesting theory posited by Brian Thomas Swimme in Journey of the Universe

The Birth of the Inner Child

Something happened within the mammals, the divine feminine energies arose and mammals began to nurture and nourish their young. We gave rise to the inner child. As humans, we let our children be creative and playful for many years beyond all other creatures. Some believe that this prolongation of childhood is what led to our exponential complexity. Maybe it was the nurturing of our ‘right brains’ that brought our species to new heights and eventually led to the development of what neuroscientist call our intuitive brain. But there is more to this story. While the prolongation of childhood may have allowed for increased complexity, it was also our development of language and writing that changed the game for our species and what we were able to accomplish.

The Rise of Symbolic Consciousness

Symbolic consciousness is a world created from symbols that evolved to language and writing that allowed humans to express their inner world with the outer world. Just as today, all words are symbols for something much deeper. Our self-awareness allowed us to create a symbolic world in order to pass on information, ideas and mythology. As we began to create the world around us to symbolize what has existed within, we began our journey of symbolic consciousness.

For billions of years, the earth was guided by the principals of self-organization or this primary consciousness. Now instead of just passing along our genetic coding and patterns to subsequent generations, we were now able to pass along our experience. Allowing us to teach each other complex instructions on how to make things by stringing together long chain symbols. As Dr. Frank Heile and some explained, we created a hierarchal structure and/or chains of these symbols, which allowed us to live and thrive in groups. Giving us the opportunity to make tools and pass on information about hunting and the world we lived in without that information being lost from one generation to the next. We began creating energetic exchanges as we moved more and more of our experience in the external world. We identified with ourselves as “I” and “Me”, and in order to understand ourselves, we became something relative to something else. Creating an identity that was a measure of another’s perception, again a reflection of the outer world and less of an understanding of our essence.

Symbolic Consciousness in the Modern Age

In addition to increasing complexity in ideas and thought, this created a positive feedback loop or an amplifying loop. We would see something, identify and integrate it into our culture and then create more of it. With this, our minds focused on rehashing the past and the inventing of the future. And so began our love affair with linear and logical thinking, building one idea on the foundation of the last. As Brian Thomas Swimme would explain it, our collective consciousness was giving birth to more symbols and those would, in turn, magnify our collective consciousness.

How this developed over time is we began to value the external, ‘objective reality’ over our inner knowing. Science then began to dictate our truth; everything we could quantify, and rationalize became our dogma. The qualities of the divine feminine and inner child were diminished. Marketing and commercialization preyed on this externalized reality, creating attachments and suffering. It also created another glaring problem; we used these measures to dominate nature instead of move with it. No longer were we part of the natural world, our aim was to control it for our own benefit.

Coming Full Circle

Since we understand now how symbolic consciousness has propelled us forward exponentially in every way, what is it going to take to come full circle? If symbolic consciousness is the amplification of the external world, it is time to bring it back to our center. What is going on within each one of us when we cultivate an inner awareness? There are so many things that take us out of this space, especially the technology of our smartphones and advent of social media; we need to make a concerted effort to move back within. Dr. Jeffery Martin would call this non-symbolic consciousness.   It is a non-dual awareness, where one consciously embraces solitude, stillness, and quiet contemplation. It is a state that is ripe for mystical experiences birthed from the cultivation of mindfulness.

We have been living life looking through a keyhole, piecing the puzzle together, asking the how questions. It is now time to embrace the why? It is time to rise to a new level of self-awareness. One that can expand large enough to see where we have been, what we have created and reflect on our need to control and dominate. As Brian Thomas Swimme expressed about the self-organizing nature of the universe. “Life learns”. It is time for us to live again in harmony with our world, as sustainability is harmony in action.

5 Suggestions to Cultivate Non-Symbolic Consciousness

  1. Set boundaries around your use of technology
  2. Meditate
  3. Ecstatic Dance
  4. Be in nature
  5. Spend part of your day in silence

(c) Can Stock Photo