Without awareness transformation is not possible.
I can recall a pivotal incident from many years ago around the experience of becoming aware.
At that time I had just started to take a conscious spiritual path. I was rapidly absorbing lots of books and would often get up early in the morning to meditate, read, and then catch the subway downtown to my 9-5 job.
I remember one day at work I was sitting at my desk. For some reason, for a just a split second, I became ‘aware’. That is, I was aware and observing myself in the office, and aware that I was ‘aware’. It was strange. I felt as if I were an actor in a play who for the briefest of moments had dropped out of his role and instead become a member of the audience. I had temporarily been yanked out of my normal unconscious reality.
In that brief, sweet moment I remembered something higher and larger than my personality or normal reality. I was awake, alert, and aware in a new way. And then, it just faded, and I simply went back to the paperwork before me.
Then, later in life, as I got older and faced different challenges, I noticed something; I struggled. What I mean is that I would get into situations that required lots of effort. One time I was working two jobs to boost my income. Another time I was enduring a lot of stress to make a confusing relationship work harmoniously. And of course, the spiritual path. I was happy to use iron discipline to expand my consciousness if it meant I can experience a higher state. I often took huge risks and put myself through intense challenges in an effort to break free from the normal, safe perspective.
Oddly, I came to realize that extreme effort was not always the best solution. But the quality of my awareness – how aware I could become – was. It was shocking as I evolved how little I had to do to change my life. But the thing was, I realized I was addicted to effort.
It was no different than a smoker puffing way daily or an alcoholic craving just one more drink. The idea that I had to put in effort, to work, to push to make something happen seemed to be imprinted on my DNA.
Since the Puritan’s time, when they crossed the Atlantic to settle in America, hard work had always been exalted as a noble virtue. This is very common in many cultures. It’s a badge of honor to have a work ethic that shouts, “Work harder, as hard as you can, to get ahead! To succeed. To make it!”
But is that always true? Sometimes, yes.
When I was learning to dance Salsa and Bachata I went to group classes three times a week plus did a daily at home video course. I also frequently attended social dances as well. I was working very hard to improve my moves and I did, bit by bit.
However, I eventually hit a wall where I felt stuck. So, I decided to see a private dance instructor. In one lesson she expertly pointed out that while I knew many steps, my form was off.
Group dance classes teach the basic steps. That’s usually all. The important subtle hand gesture preps are often not reviewed as much. This can throw off the final form. In mere minutes she corrected my form which thrust me into a whole new level of dance mastery.
I could have easily spent another three months working on my steps, but what I really needed was to work on my form. This was an example of awareness being greater than effort.
You can put out a lot of effort with no awareness and get little or no result.
Or, you can put out just the right amount of effort, with a greater awareness, and get a massive result.
It’s a little bit like knowing the correct combination to a lock. If you don’t know the right numbers, you can be locked out forever no matter how hard you try to guess them. If you do know the right numbers it easily opens with little or no effort.
So, take a look at a current situation in your own life.
Ask yourself, how can I expand my awareness around this? Is there something new to see, a new perspective or belief I could change?
Sometimes people will come to me to work on anxiety. They expend a lot of effort on taking drugs or therapy to get rid of it. But in many cases what they really need to learn is to be aware enough to allow themselves to simply relax.
There is the idea that you are all alone. Therefore, to succeed, you have to do it all alone. Fierce independence is fine, but if taken to the extreme you can ignore everyone else, the visible and invisible forces of the universe that can support, strengthen, and guide you.
Consider the possibility of right action. Consider the possibility that you can flow forward with grace and ease toward a change in your life. Resistance isn’t always meant to stop you, but to show you that ease may be another choice, and that awareness is greater than effort.