Exploring Awareness

practicing awareness

In the cool early morning, I float out of dream time but my analytic mind is not yet operating. The sound of a lawnmower nearby is present. Then I notice the richly evocative smell of fresh cut grass. From a place in myself, I reach out for this smell, calling it to me and inviting it into my awareness. It resonates in my being, a deep, powerful, and simple experience.

Later I sit for meditation: working with my breath. Some times my mind drifts a little and I notice it wandering off. Occasionally it takes me with it, and I am lost in my thoughts, until awareness shifts back to breathing and I come present again. Other times it is my emotions that arise and either pass by my awareness or catch it up for a while. Like watching a movie, sometimes I remember I’m watching and sometimes I’m lost in the story.

Having a regular practice, every day is different. Awareness of my breath, of my physical being, of the flow or presence of energy, of thoughts and emotions, all different experiences. Always I return to my breath and even that experience varies. Physical flow using muscles, energetic flow that carries the breath with it, spirit flowing in a circle. I may think it, feel it, know it, or sometimes it moves me. Even something as simple as experiencing a smell, has many possibilities.

I find myself grateful for having this container to witness, or loose myself in, aspects of awareness. A regular practice is a great opportunity to notice them coming and going. Directly experiencing it through my body and being, or getting caught up in flows that come from the human levels of my self, or even finding those sweet still places which simply are. The practice provides a mechanism for anchoring my attention to my breath, which eventually pulls me back to being present. But it also provides a container to develop awareness of awareness.

I choose to be grateful for all these varied distractions. I could judge myself for allowing them to take me off track, but I sense that there is a power in learning how they work. At least in allowing awareness of these processes. In daily life out in the world, I would never notice these variations, until I was lost in them. In my practice I can learn to work with my awareness, not trying to control it forcefully, but by noticing its flows and tendencies. Like learning to ride a rushing stream, playing with how the water moves in different situations, but it’s all water. It’s all the flow of consciousness, attention and awareness.

In meditation the goal is to move beyond the distractions into the space of spirit, the void, the place of pure being. The exploration of awareness can help with that. Returning to being human, manifesting a life in the world, we need an understanding of how our awareness works, how to choose what to focus on, what to give attention to. This is the great power we have to create our own life. I learn to surf the stream, follow the flow, but consciously and with awareness, not simply swept along by the current of the movie.

I reach out and bring the smell of the grass into my being, relishing it as it livens my spirit, a fresh breath of life, a great way to start the day.

(© 6/2015)

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