In this article, I’m writing about my first experiences of awareness.
This is not a how-to article, but hopefully, it will give you some helpful insights.
After reading many books and watching many videos about awareness, in combination with many meditations, I experienced something I would like to share.
To understand awareness, it’s necessary to understand the mind.
What is the mind?
When you think of mind, do you think of the part where you do your thinking? That’s what I thought. When we need to make decisions we are told to use our mind.
We have been conditioned through our schooling to use our minds all the time.
Our mind has the ability to create a second ‘reality’. This can be really helpful when we need to plan something or when we need to predict a possible outcome of a certain action.
Our minds can hijack us
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately, it is not so much that you use your mind wrongly — you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. You believe that you are your mind. This is the delusion. The instrument has taken you over.”Eckhart Tolle
While I was reading the book ‘The power of now’ written by Eckhart Tolle, I realized that the mind is not so much a good thing as it is a bad thing.
The mind is always either in the past or in the future. It cannot be in the present, it is absolutely impossible for the mind to be in the present. When you are in the present, the mind is there no more — because mind means thinking. How can you think in the present?Osho
When, not so much later, I read the book Awareness of Osho, I found out that the mind indeed is maybe holding us back to experience life in its fullest.
Mind and mental diseases
Mental diseases are typical of the western world. In the Netherlands for example, every 1 out of 6 people has consulted a therapist. Over 15% of the Dutch women said they experienced a burn-out. The Netherlands is ranked as one of the best countries to live in.
It might indeed be so, that our mind is able to hijack us.
The mind doesn’t exist
Osho explains it very well in his book Awareness. The mind doesn’t exist; the mind is just the appearance. The mind is not a thing, but an event. A thing has substance in it, an event is just a process.
The mind is like space your thoughts occur in.
If you picture thoughts like planets, the universe is your mind. The universe is nothing but empty space. The planets give space existence. Like your thoughts give existence to your mind.
The mind behaves like a dog
If you do not train a dog well, it will bark at everything that moves, it will run around in your house, it will destroy your shoes, it will fight with other dogs.
But if you train your dog well, it will become your best friend. It will sit down when it has to and it will give you joy when you go for a walk. I will give you attention when you need it.
Your mind behaves in the same way, if you don’t train it, it will run wild. It will overthink, it will take away your pleasure to enjoy the moment because it will grasp your attention. When you are with friends, it wants you to think about your work. When you are at work, it wants you to think about your friends.
It will run memories over and over. It starts analyzing why you behave a certain way. It will create worries for ‘you’. Where ‘you’ is the mind itself.
Being aware that your mind is a tool, it’s not you, that’s maybe the first step of awareness.
Different levels of awareness
As I see it, there are different levels of awareness. Meditation is a way to become aware of those levels. This is just how I picture it at this moment, it might change.
1 – No awareness
You are consumed by emotions and feelings without understanding where they come from. Your thoughts are there continuously. You do worry, you feel angry, you feel sad, and you blame people and events.
2 – Thought awareness
You become aware of your thoughts. You connect them to your emotions and feelings.
3 – ‘In control’ awareness
When you start with meditation you become aware that thoughts come and go, instead of holding back to them, you observe them. During guided meditations, you start to imagine a space. Every time a thought occurs, you become aware of it and you place it gently on a cloud in that space, the cloud drifts away and you return to your mediation. In the beginning, many times your thoughts are so strong that they easily get you out of your meditation. Starting meditation is something you (your mind to be more specific) is trying to avoid.
4 – Memory and projection awareness
The more you meditate, the more control of your thoughts you get. At a certain moment, you realize that a thought is a memory of the past or a projection into the future. For example, worries about your work are projections of the future. You will find that every thought that arises in the mind has its roots in data you have already accumulated.
5 – Origin awareness
The origin of the thought becomes clear. You are able to dive into thoughts and find their seed. Instead of instantly getting angry because someone said something, you become aware of the emotion. You are able to find the origin of the emotion.
6 – No-mind
This is a guess, I have not experienced this yet, but the last stage is when your mind is not there anymore. You are fully immersed in the present. You can bring in your mind when you need to analyze something, but when it is not needed it will disappear.
And once you start feeling that thoughts come and go, and you are the watcher, the witness, the mastery of the mind is achieved.Osho
Don’t try to ‘control the mind’
Nobody can control the mind, and those who try to control it will go mad. They will simply go neurotic. In fact, trying to control the mind is nothing but a part of the mind trying to control another part of the mind.
The mind is nothing but the absence of your presence.Osho
Awareness is not mental alertness. Awareness is not something that you do. Awareness is what you are. Awareness is aliveness.Sadhguru
We might have to rethink the way we see our minds. Becoming aware of your thoughts can help you in many ways.
You might discover that life becomes more intense once your awareness grows. And when you become more aware of the origin of your thoughts, you can start distance yourself from it and start living the life you want to live.