How to ‘Get Into’ an Awakened State
“Go into an Awakened state every day.”
This was the homework I was given by the monks at the Oneness University prior to returning to Canada. It was suggested that this would lead to my full Awakening. I am not fully Awakened at the time of writing this post, but I can tell you that the monks are really onto something because doing this practice daily brought me into a sustained Awakened state from October to December 2012 (which will be the topic of another post).
You might be wondering – how does one get into an Awakened state? I know it is probably quite different for everyone, but I still want to share what has worked for me in hopes that it will be of value to you.
But first, I want to clarify something very important. The quote from the monks above is actually phrased in a way that I found was a bit misleading (though I’m not blaming them – it’s challenging to accurately talk about any of this within the limitations of language). I was so confused by it that, for many months, I was meditating and praying and going a bit over the top with my spiritual practice just trying to get into an “Awakened state”. The part that got me off track was the wording “go into an Awakened State”. After speaking with one of my Awakened teachers and listening to Adyashanti and Gangaji talk about this state, I finally understood (and later had a direct experience) that the core of who we are is already fully Awakened, fully centered, fully grounded. What happens is that most of us have been spending the vast majority of our lives caught up in the illusion that we are our minds, our thoughts are our own, and we need to get somewhere or be something else to be whole.
So, being in an Awakened state actually involves becoming aware of what already is – who we really are, and letting go of the illusion. For me, it is the experience of opening my eyes, and the one who is looking out is pure Presence (as opposed to looking out glazed-over, half-present, and mostly caught-in-thought). Being in this Awakened state sounds blissful, yes? Well it is, once I am fully in the state, but I want to emphasize that what we’re discussing is the threshold of letting go of attachment to the illusion and relaxing into what is. At this stage, maintaining an Awakened state takes tremendous discipline (or focus).
The reason for this is that, at a certain point, the mind chimes in. It believes that I have had enough time to “sit idle” and wants me to reengage with it. I often hear it say things like “That work project needs to be completed” or “how will you pay your bills if you sit here all day?” and it takes every bit of conscious awareness I have to notice the thoughts but not get taken on a ride with them. (A quick note: I am not saying that I am unproductive in an Awakened state – in fact I am far more productive, but that’s going to be the topic of another post!)
Because we have all spent so much time buying into the thoughts, this way of operating is extremely familiar, and addictive. I literally feel like (what I assume it must be like for) an alcoholic who sees the bottle but makes a choice not to reach for it. And the choice isn’t made just one time and then it’s over, it’s a constant choosing. I’ll often remind myself while in the Awakened state “This is the truth, that is the illusion”.
Now that you understand that you’re not actually “going” anywhere when you “go into an Awakened state” but rather waking up to what already is – I want to share the way that I do this. It’s quite simple.
The Practice of Getting into an Awakened State
(aka Becoming Aware of the Truth of Who You Are)
1 Sit or Stop Doing for a Moment. I find that in the beginning it helps to be still while doing this exercise, and once you have the hang of it you can practice it anytime. In fact, it will be very useful to you to learn how to do this in any situation.
2Focus on the Senses. My method has been to focus on my senses – primarily touch, sight and hearing. I bring all of my awareness into the present moment by noticing what exists in my immediate vicinity with my eyes open. For example – if I have the presence of mind to suddenly notice that I am caught in my mind as I am lying in bed, mulling over situations that happened or planning for the day ahead, I start focusing on the only thing that is real – the present moment. I will touch the sheets and really feel their texture, sometimes even saying to myself “this is what is real, I am here in this bed” or begin noticing the sounds I can hear, or open my eyes and look around my room very deliberately (not just glancing around but actually paying close attention, becoming intimate with my surroundings through my senses) and it brings me back. I find that this usually quiets my mind right down.
3 Stay Fully Present. The next part is to consciously stay in the present moment because at some point the mind will try to get you to reengage with it. Remember that it knows exactly what to say to grip you, so you need to be aware of that. You may want to use my mantra and say “This is the truth of who I am, that is the illusion” to help you stay longer in the Awakened state.
4 Breathe & Feel. Staying in the present moment may bring certain body sensations or emotions into your awareness. It can be uncomfortable because there is sometimes a temptation to push the feelings away or to make up a story about why they are there. I find that breathing and allowing the feelings to be there helps me to stay in the Awakened state as well as to process the “charges” or “blocks” that are ready to dissolve. The way I see it is that in this state we are actually becoming aware of what has been there all along, and are now able to actually “melt” the blocks through conscious awareness.
5Repeat as Often as Possible. This is a practice. You might not be able to stay very long in your first attempts. Or perhaps you will stay for a day, a week, a month. You just need to do this exercise every time you realize you have left the Awakened state.
I remember the first time I sustained this state for 24 hours. I went for a dog walk in the park near my house and we walked along the abandoned railroad track in what seemed like slow motion. I was consciously aware of every single step I took, and my mind was so quiet. I went hours without having a single thought. I was simply experiencing the world with no filter.
Now it’s your turn. Bring yourself back home to who you really are. And continue to do it every time you notice you’ve left the state.
I invite you to also share in the comments below what worked for you to help yourself arrive in the Awakened state. Perhaps your method will work for others who read this.
Much love to you.