Two weeks ago I started the practice of all day awareness again more seriously. I have been doing this practice before as well, but loosing track of it again and again. Basically starting all over again each time. But this time I have been practicing it almost continuously in my waking time for two weeks. And going this hardcore and committing to it fully has resulted in some noticeable changes in my perception.
In this post I will explain to you, what I did exactly and what the results have been.
|How aware are other beings? - To me it looks like some deep thinking is going on here|
When I first started out with the practice of all day awareness a few years ago, I focused on a maximum of three sensations at once. Quickly this became an easy task to do. So my mind started running awareness of the senses on auto pilot. And this time here I already noticed a difference. This time, for two weeks I committed fully to it and tried to make it as difficult as my mind could handle. Because the lesson #1 of the dream yoga guide on dreamviews suggested you can hold many more object in conscious awareness at once than only three. So I just tried to be fully present with as much sensory input as possible. This caused me to have a remarkable insight. I already knew from teachings that awareness is not the same as experience. But I did not know how to understand this.
When I tried to focus on as many sensory impressions in parallel as possible, my mind was struggling so hard to divide the limited awareness on the different sensory streams, that it gave up and separated awareness from experience. In other words, I could feel my awareness hovering above the sensory input. And know it is easier for me to tap into this awareness. Before this insight, I could concentrate my awareness on only one particular sensation (the breath for example). And it felt like this sensory experience was needed to stay aware. But awareness is different. You can automate to concentrate on the breath with little awareness. But becoming aware of everything you experience is so incredibly complex and overwhelming, that is not possible with concentration. For that to happen you need to concentrate on awareness itself and let all experience flow through it without conscious interaction.
Basically those intense two weeks of staying present of the senses showed me that awareness is not the same as experiences. Awareness is also not the thoughts that occur. But we identify usually so much with our thoughts that we think that is what we are. But at the core awareness is something different. I am thrilled to explore it further.
From here on I will definitely continue and intensify this practice. It is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. I will also train my ability to become conscious of awareness itself. This is still difficult for me. And when I need to be particularly focused, it is more difficult for me to feel awareness.
My feeling is that whenever this practice does not yield the results, you hope for, than you need to intensify it. There are always more sensory input you can become consciously aware of at the same time. Just becoming fully aware of all that you feel with your body is more than enough for month of serious practice. Add to that all the sounds at a busy place or of a multi-layered song and you have enough for a good year of practice.
Secondly to the feeling of having a separated awareness, this practice improved my regular meditation. Coming out of meditation and going into, already as much aware as you can, will lead to increased results. Before it was my habit to feel relieve when the time of meditation was over and drop down to a lower degree of awareness going about my day. But keeping the meditation (awareness) up as much as possible all of the time, will make results come much faster. This practice is at the same time rewarding because it brings the good feeling of being in the moment to every day experiences. I will give you an example: Yesterday I was sitting on the train and waiting at the train stations for a total time of 6 hours. Usually this would have bothered me (to say the least, as I do not like travelling that much). But the act of concentrating on every little sensation and not allowing myself to slip out of the present moment for very long resulted in a super clam and euphoric state. At end of the trip I existed the train and walked a few hundred meters to my apartment. On this walk I almost had to cry because of the beauty I experienced. Being super aware of my body (every normal sensation already felt incredible), the wind on my skin was blending in so beautifully with all the other sensations, it was a great.
And as I just started out with this practice, I can only imagine where this practice can lead to in terms of becoming more present. At first is counter intuitive and will require much conscious effort. But think about, how your life (if you are like me) your education has pushed you out of being and into analyzing, planning, focusing, thinking and operating. Your whole life you are spending in the future or the past. And you might think this is an exaggeration. But take some powerful psychedelics and find yourself catapulted into the raw present moment without a conception of future our past and you will appreciate how little you actually are in the present moment. And with this practice you can feel your way back in the present moment. I would guess it is a long way, but so are all other spiritual practices.
For my part, I can say this is the greatest practice I have come about so far in terms of practicality and enjoyment. I struggle with formal meditation for more than one hour in my regular schedule. But this practice I can do almost always. I find it the most difficult in conversations with other people. There I reduce it down to one sensation, to make sure I can also follow the content of the conversation. But this I have found improves my listening skills. I can fully listen, because I become instantly aware whenever I put my own thoughts on top of what is being said.
On the other hand this practice becomes more challenging during work, which requires being focused. But even then I sometimes find that I have unused mental capacity to keep some awareness of the present moment. Usually if my mind is let loose, then even during mental work, I tend to start day-dreaming unconsciously on the side.
I highly recommend this practice of awareness of the senses in addition to other spiritual practices. For lucid dreaming this practices has yielded mixed results. I cannot say for sure if it has increased my number of lucid dreams. But this is also not my main goal with this practice for the moment. In the lucid dreams I did have, I was satisfied with the stability though.