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LIVING WITHOUT AWARENESS
LIVING WITH AWARENESS
A man wakes up in the morning. He feels grumpy and annoyed. The first thing that comes into his mind are feelings left over from what his partner has said on the previous evening, words that annoyed and left him feeling hurt.
He turns the conversation over and over in his head while he prepares to go to work. The more he thinks about it the angrier he gets, feeling not only justifiably ‘hurt’ but hateful in a way he dare not express.
He wants to find a way of putting his feelings of hurt and anger out of his mind and stop thinking about them, yet at the same time feels an impulse to let them out on his partner in an explosive and hateful way.
Caught in this dilemma, he thinks, how can he possibly concentrate on work feeling all this?
Identifying with this thought he does indeed end up being unconcentrated, closed off and distracted all day, with no resolution of his feelings in sight.
When he comes home and sees his partner again he is still torn between repressing his feelings and expressing them in a vengeful way.
He feels even angrier towards her as a result of feeling himself in this conflicted state, seeing it too, as her fault.
As a result, his feelings spiral even more in intensity and at the same time he tries to reign them inside his body, contracting the space he feels inside his body and making him feel even more explosive.
She in turn picks up his reigned-in emotions and bodily tenseness and finally unable to bear or contain the tensions herself says something that bursts the bubble, letting him explode in anger.
The result is that she now feels angry and hurt, and (another) mighty row results.
The row itself does not resolve anything or lead to knew and helpful insights that raise their awareness of important aspects of themselves and their relationship.
Instead it just leaves them temporarily relieved or emptied of their feelings - whilst at the same time still harbouring the same thoughts and judgements towards one another, regarding each other as the ‘cause’ of their own thoughts and feelings, and identifying with these feelings and thoughts towards one another.
The next day ends up being no better for either, with both feeling isolated in themselves.
Not able to identify with and feel themselves in a space of awareness big enough to make room for their own feelings - let alone those of their partner – they remain preoccupied with themselves and able to ‘contain’ their feelings only by contracting and withdrawing into their own separate and isolating spaces.
A man wakes up in the morning. He feels grumpy and annoyed. The first thing that comes into his mind is the row he had with his partner on the previous evening, the words that annoyed him and left him feeling hurt.
This time he is more aware however. Instead of just letting his mind run on, so fixated on his feelings and identified with them that they get stronger in a way he ‘knows’ will ruin his day - he practices awareness.
First he says to himself ‘It is not that I AM grumpy, annoyed or hurt’. “I am simply AWARE of feelings of ‘grumpiness’, ‘annoyance’ and ‘hurt’. I AM AWARE also, that the more I focus on them the stronger these feelings become, and I am aware too of the THOUGHT – not the ‘fact’ - that this will ‘ruin my day.”
Then he takes a second major step. Instead of identifying with these feelings and this thought he chooses to identify with the simple AWARENESS of them.
He does so first by reminding himself that the awareness of any thought or emotion is not itself a thought or emotion. Instead it is more like a free and empty space in which all thoughts and feelings can be held and affirmed - yet without becoming filled, dominated and preoccupied by them.
He succeeds in identifying with AWARENESS by becoming deliberately more aware of the actual space around his body, sensing it as a larger, unfilled space around and between his thoughts and feelings too.
As a result of putting himself in this more expansive space, he no longer feels a need to close off, tense and tighten his body in order to prevent himself exploding with the feelings and thoughts that filled it. For he knows that this tightening is exactly what contracts his inner space and makes it feel so full.
He no longer feels himself ‘in a space’ that is so contracted, crammed and preoccupied by his initial thoughts and feelings, that it leaves no free space of awareness for other important things like his work, and no space too for new insights to arise into the feelings that might have been behind his partner’s ‘hurtful’ words. Such insights do indeed come to him spontaneously in the intervals of his work, and at the end of an undistracted working day.
Still identifying with his sense of being in a space ‘big’ enough to contain both his own feelings and those of his partner, he is able to not only calmly communicate his feelings but also share his empathic understanding of the feelings that might have been behind the words that ‘hurt’ him. The result is a hostility-free dialogue which makes them both feel better and more ‘together’ – feeling once again that they dwell in a shared space of togetherness.
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