Surrender To Awareness
It’s time to shine a light on a hidden internal war that destroys our lives; the struggle between what we feel, and what we believe we should feel. On one side we feel fear, anxiety, jealousy and anger; on the other side we feel ashamed and try to push these emotions away. This is the realm of the ego which tries to represses the parts of us that it deems ‘unacceptable’. The ego will try to master the body. It will attempt to control our feelings and overcome any fear or anxiety. This conflict may be unconscious however it depletes our life energy. Like a virus it destroys the host, sometimes literally. Emotions are part of being human; when we simply observe them, and don’t push against them, they pass in their own time.
So why does this conflict happen? It occurs because the mind divides, categorizes and splits us into many parts. We all have experienced contradictory voices in our heads...the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. These opposing parts begin to battle and grow larger as they feed off one another; both sides manifest each other. If we try to think our way out of this ‘problem’ we get caught in the matrix of the mind. We cannot use the mind to solve a problem that it created. This is where most of us get stuck. Problems created in the mind cannot be solved in the mind. To try and solve life ‘problems’ in the mind, is like asking a chef to prepare a meal that can delete the calories. The mind is constantly agitated because it’s overworked and asked to solve problems it doesn’t have the ability to solve.
We should use the mind wisely; it’s an incredible tool when given practical tasks. The mind can go into the past to help us remember where we left our keys. If we then ask the mind to go into our past to figure out why things happened to us a child, it fails. The mind can go into the future and help us plan a holiday. If we then start catastrophizing and creating hypothetical worst case scenarios, it causes anxiety.
To find peace a profound shift has to happen. The mind has to become the servant and our awareness has to become the master. When we suffer it's because the reverse is happening - the mind is the master, and our awareness is the servant. The mind was never supposed to be the master. The mind was never supposed to figure out how to make us happy. In the West we gave ‘The Mind’ this high position it never asked for. It just wants to do practical tasks, like finding our keys and planning our holidays; but instead we exhaust it demanding it solve our life ‘problems’. Constantly asking the mind to try to figure out questions it has no answers too, creates an irritable, destructive monster. Just like a dog takes over or acts out when it's owner is weak, anxious or confused, so does the mind. The mind wants to fall into its natural place, which is below awareness. When awareness is in charge the mind sighs in relief; it’s no longer agitated. When awareness takes over the pack leader is finally home! When awareness is on the throne our inner kingdom is peaceful.
Awareness is powerful and connected to the intelligence inherent in nature. The mind compared to awareness is miniscule. The mind is a grain of sand whereas awareness is unfathomably large. Awareness cannot be given a size for it is infinite and unbounded. When we connect to awareness it leads to our awakening. We realize we are connected to everything in the universe. Awareness creates unity whereas the mind creates duality. When awareness infuses our being the idea of ‘other’ disappears. All separate parts dissolve. The little ‘me’ or ‘judge’ that has been fighting simply dissolves...like a drop of water absorbed into a vast ocean. We understand from a deep place there is nothing to fear.
We all are destined to dissolve back into the ocean. No matter what we think when we are alive, when we die we transform and return back into the whole. Life is beautiful and full of joy, so let’s not wait until we pass away to find peace. It is possible to unify and connect to our awareness now. Some people, such as Eckhart Tolle, have an awakening and spontaneously establish a permanent connection with awareness; sudden shifts like this are rare. So how can we connect to our awareness now? There are many paths: through mindful movement (Qi-Gong, martial arts or yoga); through spending an extended time in nature (silent retreats, communicating non-verbally with animals and gardening; through devotional practices (in relationships or religions); through suffering (near death experiences and illness); or through closing our eyes and sitting in meditation. The easiest and fastest way to have a direct experience of pure awareness is through meditation. When we meditate we bathe in awareness and bring it out into everyday life. The more we meditate the more the awareness stays with us and then a shift happens. We begin to notice various changes: things that used to bother us no longer bother us anymore; we experience being happy for no reason (the mind needs a reason); our intuition sharpens; we effortlessly start acting in accordance with natural law...connected to the whole our actions become beneficial for the earth and all beings; we realize there are no ‘others’ and gradually we are relieved of an ocean of suffering.
Before we establish a daily meditation practice the mind is at war - one side is right and the other side is wrong. Once our daily practice is established the mind returns to calm; one side is no longer seen as right and the other as wrong. Both sides dissolve and our moods stabilize. When the mind surrenders to awareness we discover what Jesus refers to as ‘the kingdom of heaven’. This blissful kingdom lies within us all.
By Aruna Shields (CHP, MBCT)