Monday, January 27, 2014

What Awareness Is

Intersection, 2011
This piece was written by a student, J.S., for the first class of this year. The prompt is for students to find an "intention word" for the year. This was her response.

I deeply appreciate how she gets into the nitty gritty of how we can relate with the parts of ourselves we don't like with real compassion - simply by seeing how they are a part of our physical existence. Everyone in the class really appreciated the physical imagery - it helps pop open an understanding that otherwise stays conceptual.

Awareness sometimes sounds passive - or is conceptualized this way. This student really makes it clear that awareness is active, and something we need to practice - a lot! - with gentleness.


Awareness. Attunement.

I’d like to be more aware and awake this year. Less caught up in the stories I tell myself, the chronic parade of tiresome explanations, expectations, assumptions that probably stem from some past truth, a hurt, or disappointment, but that may or may not have any relevance to the immediate now.

Yet it’s so easy to make those assumptions relevant – to believe they’re true and act on them and then bring about a negative situation in the very real here and now.

I would like to step outside the accretion of all that conditioned thinking, those automatic feelings. I feel as if there is a part to my personality that I can’t seem to shake off, a part that can be small, petty, gritchy, bitchy, prone to anger and judgment. I’d like to gather all that up, collect it all like you’d pull up lint from a garment, to suck up and vacuum the dusty, dirty, debris-ridden portions of my psyche and then empty it out and be done. But it keeps being there, oozing and emanating from my character much like sweat and mucus and oil are just a part of what’s daily produced by our bodies.

I read an article in the Elephant Journal about making a new year’s resolution/determination to not be an asshole. She broke it down into lots of things I could identify with, specific behaviors and attitudes that she wanted to change – to be more patient, be less irritable, for example. Just be kinder, more compassionate.

I aspire to noble truths, to cultivating better qualities, but since my efforts to rid myself of things about me that have felt ugly seem as fruitless as vowing that I’ll never sweat again – then my conclusion is that a much better intention to have is awareness. To be aware when those mean little thoughts or petty feelings come up and to try to hold them with some compassion, both for myself and for whomever they’re directed at.

And then to try to explore with more honesty what they really mean. So often there’s a deeper feeling that’s there but I’m letting myself avoid it by getting mired with the surface one.

Deep diving into the psyche, with the intent of breathing more freely, living more fully. The image just popped into my mind of swimming in the lakes around here. People have drowned because weeds wrap around their legs and ankles and when they pull to get away, it only makes the weeds bind more tightly. Trying to make myself turn into a better person by pulling away and disavowing the less savory parts to my being just keeps me stuck with feeling them.

So instead I’d like to look directly at them, to hold these parts with tenderness, see of that doesn’t some times melt away the harshness or judgment I feel primarily towards myself, but also towards others. So far it’s been an interesting process, letting me be curious about what I’m experiencing. And also allowing me to be able to laugh at myself in a way that feels freeing because it’s a relief to learn I don’t have to take so seriously everything it occurs to my mind to Awareness allows in more heart energy. And when I feel that I feel more attuned to a positive force, or spirit, I’m not sure of the word, that feels outside of myself. 

I feel part of something bigger than me, that I’ve floated to a higher plane and feel connected to others and in touch with a force of life and love even if there’s no one else around. From that perspective the negative stuff I resist when I’m caught up with the ego-me looks instead like teachers, little messengers of some lessons to learn instead of little dirt balls of annoyance and pettiness. So this year – I’d like to be more aware of what those repetitive patterns of thought or feeling or impulse are really about and pay attention to the guidance in what on the surface feels like just psychic squalor.

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