Learning to wake up and live life consciously is the most important responsibility, life work, task, area of growth that any of us will have the opportunity to work on in our lives. The lives of our children and grandchildren, and perhaps the future of humanity itself, may depend on how successful we are in achieving that goal.
A friend recently shared with me that he is trying hard to wake up and live with presence in the moment, but he feels he’s not doing a good job at it because he keeps falling asleep and sliding back into dualistic, black-and white, either/or thinking.
He was discouraged and seriously questioning whether he was actually waking up and growing spiritually. He assumed that because he couldn’t stay awake 24/7 he was failing.
I laughed and agreed with him that he was indeed unconsciously falling into the subtlety of all-or-nothing thinking.
I assured him that he was growing in self-awareness and reminded him that waking up is relatively easy. Almost anyone can wake up. The daunting challenge of authentic spiritual growth is learning to “stay” awake.
The Secret To Waking Up And Authentic Spiritual Growth
Waking up is a process. We all begin life embracing the unconscious beliefs of our inner-child’s unconscious primitive ego. We essentially “see” what our ego believes is true. We unconsciously “see” what we expect to see, not the reality of “what is”.
Waking up to reality, and living fully present in the moment, is learning to first recognize and tame the “personality” of our primitive ego, and secondly, the awareness that who we “really” are is pure observing consciousness.
I reminded my friend that waking up is a process that can often take a lifetime to accomplish. Whenever we are able to spend more time awake and conscious today than we were able to accomplish yesterday, our spiritual growth is both authentic and growing.
I encouraged him to just keep paying attention. Every time he wakes up and realizes that he has been asleep, all he needs to do is simply re-affirm his desire to stay awake. Over time he will achieve the growth he is struggling to achieve.
I shared with him two simple spiritual practices that I personally have found to be helpful.
Spiritual Practice #1 – When I have to stop for a red light I use the time as an opportunity to wake up, look around, and actually “see” the world around me. I do the same thing whenever I stand in a line—–at McDonalds, the bank, in a check out line, or in a restaurant.
Each of these opportunities may only last for thirty seconds, but over the course of a day they add up to minutes. Minutes that I have been fully awake.
Spiritual Practice #2 – My spiritual practice for dualism, or black-and-white, either/or thinking, is simply middlepath thinking—–intentionally looking for the truths on both sides of every issue, subject, argument, political statement, or personal belief. I try to do this whenever I become aware that I am having negative or judgmental feelings.
When I awaken to the presence of my negative feelings I remind myself that nature and all of creation is non-dual. Only the human mind gets caught up in dualistic thinking.
I affirm to myself that dualistic thinking gives me the ability to differentiate between things—-so I don’t want to get rid of my ability for dualistic thinking entirely. I am simply attempting to become more aware of when it’s helpful and when it’s not.
I find middlepath thinking to be a very powerful spiritual practice for awakening my consciousness.
Conclusion – I shared with him my belief that the most important secret to successfully waking our consciousness and achieving authentic spiritual growth is intentionality. With a commitment to intentionality, waking our consciousness for the benefit of future generations is a goal that anyone can achieve.