In part one of “The Shock of Awareness,” we looked at the phenomena of awareness shock – when a new idea, perception, or event acts as a catalyst for life change or spiritual transformation. Awareness shock may rock us to the roots of our deepest selves as we are forced to examine things we have been avoiding.
In this time of rapid change we see many signs of awareness shock as we undergo individual and societal transformation. This can be very disorientating. For example, the proliferation of technology is quite profound, and our minds are hurriedly trying to make sense of it all. Computers, cell phones, debit cards and newer products and services being introduced daily are literally changing the way in which we live, relate and experience reality. It is as if we are now all living out scenarios from science fiction novels! What was once fantastic to imagine is now a mundane part of daily living. It’s amazing to consider that we can access almost any thing we desire to know by just typing a few key words on an Internet search engine. Do they even make printed encyclopedias any more?
The paradox is that as we have more technology and apparent control of the material world, we come to realize that there are many things that computers cannot help us with, and that there are still more things in life that are mysterious. Scientists can see out to a distance of several billions of light-years with the Hubble telescope orbiting above our Earth, but can we plumb the spiritual and emotional depths of the human heart beating right within our very own bodies?
This contradiction of having and not having can apply to collecting spiritual, mystical, or healing knowledge. We can have all the training, book knowledge and support, but when awareness shock hits, we can still be left vulnerable. How can we experience wholeness when we encounter awareness shock? What perspectives support healing in this process?
1. Not Knowing Opens Infinity
Experts are good, helpful, and necessary, but oddly enough, sometimes now knowing, not having a theory, an authority, an opinion or any solution to awareness shock is the best medicine for it.
We like control. We want to control our lives, feel in control of it, and ourselves, and all the aspects of it to get what we want. When awareness shocks hit us, we come to realize that there is something bigger than the human mind. There is a vast intelligence that guides us, directly or indirectly, and not knowing can open us up to the vast infinity of this intelligence in surprising ways. We learn things about ourselves and can receive new insights when we surrender and become emptied out of our usual sense of self.
Some years ago two computer engineers were working on a project. The pair had started a company and were trying to solve a software problem that had appeared in their product line. When they found a solution by inventing an ingenious new device, they brought it to their manufacturer who could not believe they had solved the problem. “That’s impossible! We didn’t think it could be done!” they were told. The engineers had no concept if it was possible or not, they just opened themselves up. We can do the same. We can be shocked, let go of preconceived ideas, judgments, or opinions, and be given our next steps, answers and healing.
When you are in shock, you are in fear; it is a tenuous, insecure place. Letting go of what you know can move you from fear to freedom. No one has life all figured it out. We are all in the same boat. Even the so-called experts have ups and downs. You don’t have to be an expert; you just need to be open and then a higher knowing will come.
2. Honesty Accelerates Integration
The single greatest block to growth is denial. What we stuff down will eventually erupt back up. Seeing that the truth is helpful, is healing, is practical and is necessary creates constructive movement forward. The gift of awareness shock is that it allows you to go deeper and accelerate faster when you meet it with honesty. This is not always easy or comfortable. We may find out things about ourselves, others, or life in general that we do not like or want to avoid. The pain may be great and overwhelming. A good thing to remember is that even in the midst of turmoil, love is present. It may not be the kind face of someone you love, it may not be a loyal pet, or a supportive group of friends, but there is a loving presence that can flow into you, and your life, when you create a space of honesty around yourself. The fragments of your being can reconnect, heal, and integrate from the power of honesty.
3. Responsibility is Power
Many do not wish to take responsibility for themselves. We give power to the government – which is us – and then can feel threatened or critical of governmental decisions. We can give power to our past, future worries, or someone else that we decide made us do what we did. When we give responsibility to outside forces, we give away our power. When we take responsibility for our lives – our reality – who we are – we become empowered.
There is a tendency when shocked by awareness to unduly blame others or to blame ourselves. There may be some truth in this, and it is wise to acknowledge the facts of the situation. However, taking responsibility does not mean penalizing ourselves or others; it’s a chance to learn and grow and make wiser choices. Seeing that you have the power to choose how you respond to all situations – taking responsibility – can transmute awareness shock more smoothly.
4. Shock to Serenity
There are no quick fixes to moving out of awareness shock; it has to gently recede like an ocean wave after meeting the shore. Moment to moment we can feel it, be with it, learn from it, and in time it will all settle down. There seems to be an Awareness Shock cycle. Part one of the cycle is the Shock itself. We become aware that something is amiss and ask ourselves, “What is this? What’s happening to me?” This is quickly followed in milliseconds by a Reaction. It may be to fight the experience, initiate flight to quickly get away from the source of the shock, or even immobilization; everything stops, you stop, your freeze, you shutdown your system. Limbo typically follows. It’s a confusing netherworld where you agonize and perhaps float about, indecisive of what action to take to handle the shock. It can feel like walking endlessly on a treadmill, churning thoughts and emotions, or feeling numbness or nothingness. Then, naturally, you begin to take New Steps. Time is used to examine your beliefs, plan new approaches, see how you can change your actions, purge, and release emotions, talk honestly to yourself, and increase the level of self love. As these naturally cycle through, you will end up at Integration. You will then be clearer, more aware, have deeper self-acceptance, balance, and the wisdom from experiencing awareness shock and consciously using it for growth. This can grow stronger with more time and distance from the shock.
If you are experiencing the shock of awareness, know that help is available to you. We are here to love and support each other in our growth. You are not alone. If you become overwhelmed, get help from a caring practitioner. A combination of inner awareness and external support is a good way to ensure an easier path.
The movie, the Matrix, is a good example of evolution via awareness shock. The hero, Neo, goes from a vague awareness that something is not right in his life through a series of shocks that expand his consciousness and changes his perspective. Morpheus and others assist Neo, but ultimately Neo is responsible for his own fate. At the end of the film Neo is invincible because he has confronted his fears – not ignored them. We can do the same and be the hero of our own soul’s journey in this paradoxical world that mirrors our joys and pains back to us.