This section is comprised of three components: awakening, discerning, choosing.
Part A: Awakening
When one realises
one is asleep,
at that moment
one is already half-awake.
D. Ouspensky (1878-1947)
There are two ways to live: consciously and unconsciously – awake or asleep. When we live unconsciously we are entranced by conditioning; oblivious to the reasons why our lives aren’t working. We repeat the same routines day-in, day-out; make the same mistakes over and over again; and re-act to the same situations time and time again – but we never ask questions. Why is life this way? What am I doing wrong? What can I change to progress? We never consciously challenge our actions. We carry on oblivious, regardless of the consequences.
People imprisoned in this mind-set adhere to beliefs that breed stasis: ‘life is already mapped out.’ – ‘That’s just the way it is.’ What a defeatist attitude! Wake up! Life is not preordained: it’s ‘just the way it is’ because you haven’t changed anything in years! Such people are effects, not causes. They are constantly buffeted about by the whims of other people. They are REACTORS, not CREATORS. Yet to change a REACTOR into a CREATOR we just have to put ‘C’ first. If we ‘SEE’ first the unconscious patterns which drive our repetitive behaviour before acting on them, we resume conscious control of our lives.
Behaviours indicative of reactor mode are: sulking, blaming, seeking approval, condemning, insulting, bad-mouthing, adopting victim mentality, seeking vengeance, calculating your responses to suit the company you’re in, agreeing with the majority just to fit in, unhealthy competitiveness, bullying, and jealousy. Every time you revert to one of these effects, let an alarm sound off in your mind and bring your attention to the fact that you’re giving your power away.
To live consciously we must heighten our awareness and catch ourselves in the process of re-acting. Every time we interrupt a conditioned response, we break a shackle that binds us and move one step closer to our true potential.
Heightening our awareness can be aided by becoming aware of the covert operations of our filtering systems. Instead of responding robotically and slipping back into somnambulism, STOP – Stall, Think, Observe and Proceed. Don’t shrink from your feelings, allow them to expand. Observe the sensations in your body and allow them to peak. Remember the wisdom of the Tao Te Ching:
Should you want to contain something, you must
deliberately let it expand.
Should you want to weaken something, you must
deliberately let it grow strong
In not resisting negative feelings, you weaken and disperse them. In fighting them, you strengthen them. When your feelings have dissolved, ask your Higher Self (or wise self) for the correct response to the situation. Remember, every time you interrupt a negative pattern of behaviour, you dissolve the neural networks which support it. Consequently, you initiate the following four stages of transformation.
The Four stages of Competence:
When operating at the level of unconscious incompetence, we are totally unaware of our short-comings. We operate in a somnambulistic state: sleep-walking through life, totally oblivious to the underlying mechanisms that wreak havoc in our lives.
On reaching stage two our awareness has heightened. We’ve identified the underlying reasons as to why our lives aren’t working, but we still haven’t developed new strategies to implement the needed change, i.e. we are still incompetent.
At stage three, we have not only identified the reasons why we act in preordained ways, we have devised and implemented new strategies to change our behaviour. At present, however, we have to exert conscious effort in executing the new behaviour – it does not come easy. It requires a lot of energy and conscious thought.
On reaching the final stage, we have practiced the new strategies to such an extent that they are now second-nature. Each time we are faced with the old trigger, our new way of responding kicks in without any conscious deliberation. When this occurs we have transformed a negative habit into an extremely positive one.
The four stages of competence can be used to measure the degree of progress in any troublesome area of your life. Let’s look at an example:
Every time John faced a problem he drank to destruction. This bizarre behaviour continued for many years and often led to him being locked up. He was oblivious to the reasons why he succumbed to his destructive tendencies. [unconscious incompetence].
After reviewing the situation with a counsellor, he identified that the reason for his abusive drinking was to obliterate his problems. Now he’d developed awareness of the catalyst, but his behaviour had not changed. He still drank to destruction whenever confronted with a problem [conscious incompetence].
Through the Alcoholic to Alchemist Twelve Step Philosophy for Optimal Living, he finally accepted that alcohol did not provide an escape route from his problems. As a consequence, he refrained from drinking. Initially, it wasn’t easy; he had to exert conscious effort in implementing his new strategy [conscious competence].
Persistence prevailed bringing gradual improvement. After John repeatedly refused to drink his problems away and set about solving them, his desire to drink diminished. Subsequently, abstinence became second nature. On encountering a problem, rather than seeing it as an obstacle, he saw it as an opportunity to evolve. After examining a problem from different points of view, considering his options, and consulting his inner wisdom, he took great delight in solving the problem – this entire process was carried out without any conscious deliberation i.e. it had been habituated. [unconscious competence]
Live Life: Don’t Let Life Live You
Part B: Discernment
To further heighten your awareness and foster the attributes of serenity, acceptance, courage and wisdom, refer to the words of the following prayer:
I ask my Higher Self (or whatever term suits) to grant me
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can; and
The wisdom to know the difference
Recite this prayer frequently. Commit it to memory. Whenever you’re faced with an ambiguous or threatening situation, one that fills you with confusion or fear, contemplate the words, slip into a serene state of mind, and deduce whether you have control over the situation or not.
If the answer is no then ask for the serenity to simply accept it. Why fret over something you cannot change? Equanimity of mind is maintained in simple acceptance.
If the answer is yes but you find yourself apprehensive to take action, then ask for courage. Remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the ability to act despite fear.
If you are unable to ascertain whether you have control or not, ask for clarity. Again, use step four and hand the situation over to your Indwelling Divinity. This way you are certain of attaining the wisdom to discern the right course of action.
Part C: Escaping into the magic
The final part encourages you to go into the magical kingdom of your mind and ponder the limitless possibilities available to you. Living life consciously involves choosing what you desire and manifesting it.
Your mind is a vast emporium of potential. Sixty thousand thoughts traverse it every single day and any one of them has the capacity to take you on an incredible journey. Select your thoughts carefully; discard the negative and harness the inspirational. When you have chosen an inspirational idea, incubate it in the embryo of your imagination. Feed it with concentration and allow it to become alive in your mind. Enlarge the internal pictures and turn up the sounds until the experience becomes life-like. Immerse yourself in the scene. Feel the wonderful feelings evoked. Watch the scenario grow and grow until it is finally birthed into reality. And don’t hold back, remember:
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark
Set your bar as high as possible and live life in the knowledge that you are capable of clearing it with room to spare. To live life consciously is to know no limits!
Your imagination is the gateway to Cosmic Consciousness; therefore, it is your greatest source of inspiration. Whenever you enter the realm of your imagination you become a conduit for the Universal Mind and activate the genius within. As a result, the chemicals released into your body will evoke feelings of elation and bliss – and they are free of charge, with no adverse side effects! Escape into the creative dominion of your imagination every day. Make it a habit. As your agreement with reality changes, you will actualize a life beyond your wildest dreams.