Consciousness is the quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control of the mind. (Wikipedia)
I first became aware of the concept of consciousness in 2007, reading some of Steve Pavlina’s stuff. It was only around 2010, I began to understand what it meant. From the books I read and the things I had going on, I came to know concepts like mindfulness, meditation, awareness, etc.
I spent a few years steeped in angst, that background feeling of dissatisfaction, anger, irritation…knowing something was wrong, but not knowing what. I strove to fix it, I tried everything I knew, prayer, talking to people and things only seemed to escalate more until I got so frustrated one day, I switched off the lights and sat in a dark room for an hour, just being with my thoughts, diving in. And to this day, the most useful tool for figuring out problems, direction and dissipating angst has been the practice of mindfulness.
It was such a powerful experience it felt like I woke up. It’s the best way to describe it…waking up. Suddenly being aware of things I had never given thought to before. Asking questions and receiving answers from that still small place within. Over the years, I’ve learnt to trust myself, actually think for myself, and trust the life that has been given to me.
I think consciousness is a main tool of life, on a more abstract scale. A way to success, to a fuller and more productive life and consequently a happier one is the increase of consciousness. Being more organized is a form of increased consciousness. Being able to actually observe your own habits and patterns is a form of increased consciousness. Being a better student is a form of increased consciousness…you are more aware of your coursework, the deadlines, the topics…the actual content. Being a better entrepreneur involves being more aware of your business, of the market place, of the various factors.
It is easy to stay asleep, living in a dream world, glossing over facts and reality, being tossed by emotion and people and things. But as you awaken and grow in conscious awareness, you will see things more like they are; you will develop a sense of anchoring within and you will begin to tap into your true power.
Tapas: In the yogic tradition, this principle of using intense effort to burn through life’s distractions is called Tapas. It’s another Sanskrit world, roughly defined as “heat”, or “essential energy.” The concept is that through a disciplined approach to work and self-sacrifice, Tapas will burn away the negativity that separates us from God. By working our hardest and happily enduring the hardships of life, we are able to create a sense of peace and clarity in ourselves. [Do You – Russell Simmons]
I don’t know if success should be a goal…or happiness for that matter. I don’t know if anyone should go out into the world and have those things as the actual tick off points on their to-do list. I think the more you overtly search for those things, the less likely it would be that you find them. In my experience, things like success and happiness are more a side effect than an actual destination. You focus on doing your best in every moment and without being aware of it, you drift into happiness, you drift into success.
I was reading “Do You’ by Russell Simmons the other week and I came across an old idea that really resonated with me, the idea of Tapas, the idea of Hard Work as a spiritual practice.
I enjoy working hard. I relish the idea of being able to completely absorb myself in the process of creating something remarkable, something worthwhile. The feeling of being engaged in something you enjoy doing and being challenged by it is an amazing one. For the sheer pleasure of the experience, working hard is awesome. We all know the idea of hard work as the path to ‘success’, but the idea of the work itself being a form of worship, a form of spiritual practice elevates the entire experience. To the point where one can focus completely on the sensation of doing the work, releasing all care for the outcome and just engaging excellently in it.
And this works best when the work you do is connected to your purpose, your dharma. When you engage in the hard work of pressing through your purpose, developing your gifts and giving them to the world, you are engaging in tapas, you are getting closer to God.
Even if you are not satisfied with the work that you do right now, or you want a better job, position, whatever. The simple act of giving your very best at your work is sufficient to burn away the pettiness and the junk that clouds our spirits and holds us back from our full potential.
There is so much that lies outside our control from day to day, if we can focus on our efforts, and relish the process, realizing that the results belong to God, we would have happiness, we would have success.
Anyone familiar with the ideas of law of attraction knows that to manifest your desire you must have complete faith/belief that it is already yours and will appear. To create the physical reality you want, you must first shift into and embody the ‘vibe’ of that reality. If you want to be a millionaire for instance, you must shift into the mindset, emotional state and patterns of a millionaire. Once you successfully do this, the physical manifestation of wealth only becomes a matter of time.
But what if you don’t have enough faith/belief?
Then have faith for more faith.
This means that you don’t beat yourself up for not having complete assurance that your desire will manifest. You don’t worry about if your little niggling doubts are holding you back or blocking you. You accept that you are not quite there yet in terms of complete faith, but you have faith that very soon, you will grow into the position of full faith, full immersion in the vibration of the thing that you seek.
All you need is mustard seed faith, just a tiny bit of faith, feed it to itself, watch it grow and soon…you’ll be moving mountains.
Over the past few days, a couple epiphanies have been forming in my mind, surfacing and subsiding, all building up to this one – stop asking permission. I’ve been reading a book called “The Way of the Superior Man” by David Deida. It has brought back to sharp focus for me, the idea of being a man, being a true man. And unlike other books on the subject, it reaches out from a core truth as opposed to talking about things you should know or learn to do as a guy. The main idea here is connect with your deepest self and live from that without compromise.
We get conditioned to always ask for permission from a young age. We want cookies? Often we have to go ask mum for permission to have those cookies. And so on, it’s a good thing then because well, they do know better than us then and they seek to protect us. The conditioning continues into our childhood and beyond. We ask teachers for permission to speak, to go to the bathroom. We learn to look to others for approval and we tailor our behavior to earn it.
This need is childish and unnecessary. To grow up is to come into contact with one’s truest and highest desires and to pursue that regardless or in spite of people’s opinions and expectations of us. As long as we live from a place of unconditional love and light, we ought to give of our gifts and ourselves freely and without reserve.
In the context of creating something to be appreciated by others – being a musician, designer, artist, actor, etc., we fall into the trap of asking permission to create the things we really want to, the things truly dear to us. We wonder if people would like it, our labour of love. We wonder if they would even understand. There is no need to ask for permission, we must create as we please, from that true place within and put it out there anyway without seeking validation, without craving acceptance.
Stop asking for permission to be yourself, stop asking for permission to live your dream, stop asking for permission to change. Stop asking permission. Take the reins of your life in your hands and take full responsibility for it. Own your successes and own your failures. Stop asking for permission and take charge.
I’ve been doing this thing called ‘morning pages’ from ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. Every morning for the next 12 weeks I write three pages of pure stream of. I’m on day 3. The goal of these pages is to unearth and release the thoughts and emotions lurking in the subconscious. I do this a lot already through daily contemplation and meditation, but this is still a useful tool. As the debris of unresolved emotions and thoughts are cleared away, I gain clarity and closer contact with my creative muse.
I have a friend who I love unconditionally. I don’t know if I love any of my other friends or people the same way, but with her I know I do. Maybe it is because I know it is mutual, and we understand that regardless of what the other person does or goes through, we love and support each other all the same. We don’t talk all the time, but the idea is a comfort, to know that at least one person completely accepts you, as you really are, no judgments.
What does this idea look like when it is turned inwards? Yesterday, I was writing my stream of thought and halfway through I realized that there are some things I don’t face because they would require admitting to myself that I made a mistake, that I possibly messed up. But how I am going to get healing and move past it if I don’t face it. It would just remain an issue causing discomfort and pain. To help me face the issues boldly, I must extend a hand of unconditional love to myself. I must say to myself that regardless of my failings, my mistakes, my fuck-ups, that I love myself and I don’t have to work to deserve my own love. I love me; I don’t have to be perfect. Perfection is not the goal. The goal is to LIVE (as messy as life is), to LOVE (as dangerous and wild as love is), to CREATE (as scary and uncertain as creation is).
I’m way better at judging myself and rejecting parts of myself that I don’t like. But if I practice and learn to love myself unconditionally, I know that all my fear will melt away and my true power will be released. I can allow myself to be myself, my full true self. I won’t have to bend to please everybody if it means compromising that which is sacred to me. I will have nothing to prove, and no one to impress, only myself to be true to. I can speak my mind and approach all my relationships from a place of love and acceptance. And the more I love myself, the more I will love others.
Suffering as a way to happiness.
The usual way of chasing happiness is trying to increase ease and reduce stress, the desire to flow effortlessly through life. I’ve been searching for a way to get my life to a place where I move automatically to my goals and success. I’ve aligned myself with my passions, hacked my habits and routines, I have covered some ground this way.
Somehow I got the idea that it should be easy, or that I should be happy everyday, pumped up rearing to go. I should be always passionate, always on.
But I’m not always on.
I get depressed a lot, overwhelmed by all the things I need to do daily. I wake up on some days and facing the challenges feel like hell. Early this week, I stumbled on an idea…that things of true happiness and beauty only come through intense suffering.
“This is the terrible law of the universe. This is the basic law; it is a fact… Absolute suffering leads to — is the means to — absolute beauty.” – Phillip K Dick (The Exegesis of Phillip Dick)
What if I embraced the pain, the stress, the effort, and relished in pain like a sadomasochist. What if I immersed myself fully in it until I came out the other side or got consumed within it?
Don’t be scared to burn. Embrace the pain.
“The pleasures and the rewards of intellect are inseparable from angst, uncertainty, conflict and even despair “ – Christopher Hitchens (letters to a young contrarian)