Think of all you are experiencing at any point in time - whether inwardly or outwardly, physically or emotionally - together with all your mental reflections on your experience – as one side of a coin or line. Think of the other side of the coin or line as nothing but the very awareness of experiencing it. The two sides of that coin or line are inseparable – and yet they are also absolutely distinct.
The Awareness Principle is based on this primary distinction - drawing a line between anything we experience and the pure awareness of experiencing it.
things we experience
the awareness of experiencing those things
The Practice of Awareness is a primary choice based on this primary distinction. It is the choice to identify with the pure awareness of the things we experience rather than identifying with those things themselves. By ‘things we experience’ I mean anything from an outwardly experienced object, situation, event or action, to an inwardly experienced impulse, sensation, mood, emotion, memory, anticipation or thought.
In writings on Eastern spiritual teachings too much mystery is usually made of the idea of a ‘pure’ or ‘transcendental’ awareness that is free of thoughts, emotions, drives and desires etc. and the ‘effort’ needed to attain this awareness. In reality, if The Awareness Principle is understood, no great effort at all is required to attain this state of pure or ‘transcendental’ awareness. The awareness of a physical object such as a leather chair is not itself a chair and nor is that awareness made of leather. Neither is the awareness of a thought itself a thought. Similarly, the awareness of any ‘thing’ (whether an object, situation, event, mood, emotion, desire, impulse, action, thought etc.) is not itself a ‘thing’ or ‘thought’ of any sort. The ‘awareness principle’ is simply the recognition that awareness - in principle – is innately ‘pure’, both thought-free and ‘thing-free’ in general. It does not need to be effortfully ‘emptied’ of any thoughts or things to be made ‘pure’. For just as space is absolutely distinct from all the objects within it, so also is awareness as such absolutely distinct from all its contents – from all we are aware of. It does not need to be ‘emptied’ of all content to be as clear and pure as the ‘empty’ space around objects.
A Basic Practice of Awareness: Whether sitting, standing or lying, and without closing your eyes, simply be aware of the different things you are currently experiencing – things of any and all sorts, from physical objects and sensations to emotions, actions and thoughts. Now simply become more aware of the clear space around your body, and around all the physical objects in your environment. Feel a similar clear space around any ‘things’ you are experiencing inside you, such as emotions and thoughts. In this way you will come to experience the clear space-like quality of pure awareness as such, and be able to identify with it rather than anything in it.
All the Practices of Awareness, evolved from The Awareness Principle, that make up ‘The New Yoga of Awareness’ are based on passing from a new awareness of experience to a new experience of awareness – whether as the clearness of space (‘Kha’), as the translucent light of awareness (Prakasha), and as its vitalising aetheric air or breath (Akasha/Prana).
Sitting comfortably, take five minutes to be aware of what you are currently experiencing within you. Note down on paper or make a mental note of the different elements of your experiencing, distinguishing them into three categories as below.
PHYSICAL SENSATIONS EMOTIONAL FEELINGS THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS
e.g. a fluttering sensation e.g. feeling
‘anxious’ e.g. how can I best say what
in my stomach I need to say to person X?
Emotional terms like ‘anxious’, ‘upset’, ‘depressed’ etc. are actually just umbrella labels for a huge variety of possible physical sensations, states and feelings. Concentrate on your direct bodily experience of your physical states and sensations, not on the emotion labels. If your thoughts take the form ‘I am anxious’ or ‘I feel depressed’, dismiss the words and ask yourself what exactly it is you are anxious, angry or depressed about. If you don’t know, staying with your awareness to the specific physical sensation of the ‘anxiety’, ‘anger’ or ‘depression’ will eventually tell you. By staying with the physical sensation of your emotional feelings, ways of expressing them will come to mind that don’t require you to use label-words like ‘anxiety’. Instead they will have more to do with what lies underneath your feelings – what they themselves may be seeking to make you more aware of.
Identifying with this transcendental awareness by identifying with and breathing the pure translucency of space itself is The Practice of Awareness in its essence. This practice frees us from identification with our bodies and minds, with our feelings and thoughts, sensations and perceptions, actions and reactions, behaviours and beliefs – with anything we are or can be aware of. At the same time it creates space for us to become aware of far more dimensions of reality, for new, clearer feelings and thoughts to arise - and with them a new sense of ourselves. In particular it allows us to identify with that Self that is not simply aware of this or that but IS awareness – pure and simple. Not ‘my’ or ‘your’ awareness, but that absolute or Divine Awareness which is present within us all as our divine Awareness Self.
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