Conscious Living (in the now)
The soul is like a seedling – it requires conscious engagement with Life to grow and to blossom, but most people’s relationships with Life are semi-conscious. If we don’t consciously engage with Life we will make very little progress and remain passive victims of Life’s circumstances.
The ego is a tangled mess of distorted beliefs, critical thoughts, reactive emotions and conditioned behaviours. It is not a particularly pleasant place to be, which is why we generally avoid feeling our “stuff”. The ego-self usually tries to distance itself from anything uncomfortable so we never fully experience life. Our soul requires direct conscious experience for optimal growth, but the ego’s avoidance strategies prevent this. If we are fully present (here and now) our soul can experience life directly and fully, but if we are not present (i.e. identified with the mind, emotions or body) our soul can only experience life indirectly. And an indirect experience of life is only a partial experience of life. Living life fully means living consciously – with pure awareness and presence.
Two Aspects of Conscious Living
There are two aspects of living consciously and they both connect us with our Self and with Life:
- Perception: Conscious perception (seeing, hearing, feeling, etc.) enables us to experience life more directly, objectively and fully, because our perceptions are not so distorted by ego structures.
- Expression: Conscious expression includes thinking, speaking and doing things as consciously as possible. It puts our Self back in control and gradually dissolves the subconscious beliefs, emotions and behaviours that have kept us living on autopilot.
“Doing” doesn’t stop us from “being” (because “being” always is), but doing often lessens our awareness of being, in which case it lessens our experience of life. When we are busy doing, we typically have less awareness in the present moment, so we experience less and develop less. But if we can “do” with presence (i.e. “be” and “do” at the same time), we have the best of both worlds. This is what conscious living is all about.
Wake Up Through Conscious Living
Conscious living is about waking up from the trance of our ego structures and enabling our Self to become the conscious director of our life. Our subconscious beliefs, reactive emotions and conditioned behaviours will continue to run our lives until we make them conscious:
- Thoughts & Beliefs: Conscious living involves constant awareness to spot negative thoughts and false beliefs so that we can stop buying into them and stop subconsciously reinforcing them. Once we have consciously identified a false belief it is less likely to fuel the negative thoughts, reactive emotions and conditioned behaviours that keep us suffering unnecessarily. It also provides us with subject matter for our self-inquiries.
- Emotions: Conscious living involves constant awareness to catch reactive emotions before they take hold of us. I am not talking about suppressing our emotions; I am talking about not expressing them (i.e. feeling their energy but not acting them out). Acting out our emotions discharges them, which stops us from really feeling them and understanding them. This, in turn, prevents us from discovering the root cause of each reactive emotion and healing it.
- Behaviours: Conscious living involves constant awareness to notice when we succumb to conditioned and compulsive behaviours. Consciously identifying previously subconscious impulses and behaviours dis-empowers them to some extent, and it provides us with subject matter for our self-inquiries.
Conscious living is also known as mindfulness. It involves observing the mind; not the thoughts. The mind is like an over-eager pet dog – It brings us things to get our attention, but we generally give our attention to the things it brings us (thoughts), rather than to the mind itself. So the mind keeps bringing us thoughts because it sees that we are interested in them. And if we tell the mind to go away it will come straight back with something else to show us. If we really want the mind to calm down (and stop showing us unwanted thoughts), we need to stop paying attention to the thoughts and give our attention to the mind. The mind is keen to serve us and just wants to be noticed and appreciated, but we keep ignoring it and telling it off. The same basic principle also applies to the heart and the body.