Conscious Awareness

Consciousness can be simply defined as awareness. The more aware one becomes, the more one’s consciousness starts to expand and grow. In the beginning of our childhood, we are unaware sponges, picking up everything we see from the external environment and evaluating it by associating good or bad feelings coupled with positive or negative reinforcements from authority/peer figures. In other words, we are essentially computer hard drives downloading programs from the external world and filing it somewhere in our brain based on whether it feels good and whether our version of society accepts it. Subconscious thought patterns and belief systems begin to emerge and take form shaping this image of our self; all this during a time in which we are very much a primitively conscious being.

Many of us feel the presence of strong external forces such as cultural pressure, parental/authoritarian pressure, or collective pressures from society at large, and actively buy all the way in to this image that the external world has outlined for us. We begin to believe that this image of labels, expectations, and separateness is real and that this is what we are. Far too often we never even take a step back and start to examine our lives from an outside perspective, ignoring bias, peer pressure, and judgment. We never contemplated that we might have downloaded faulty software and that this image is just a false reality created by faulty environmental programming that wasn’t designed to fit our distinctive specifications. Sadly though, far too many of us become victims to these images and fall right into the trap that is our comfort zone. Far too scared to venture away from the majority, our comfort zone becomes our secret prison. Stuck in this secret prison, our lives become nothing more than a schedule of endless routines over and over just to get by and feel safe. As this routine goes on longer and longer, our awareness locks in and freezes as our mind begins to close, making the walls thicker and boundaries more complex making sure no new stimuli are able to penetrate in unfiltered. We begin to feel stuck and we don’t know why.

Growth happens when something increases in size. Life is not only able to grow physically, but more importantly it’s able to grow in consciousness, or in other words self-awareness. To do this, only one thing is required: that we step outside our comfort zone and into the realm of the unknown with an open mind. Beginning a journey down this path is far from easy. If it were, we would all be fully conscious, enlightened beings. As spiritual teacher Ralph Smart once pointed out, “Going out of your comfort zone is like jumping into a cold shower.”

This makes many of us very nervous and scared because there is an element of discomfort to it. However, once we jump in with an open mind, it becomes invigorating, almost seeming to awaken the soul. In a strictly scientific sense, the more new experiences and bits of knowledge we acquire with an open mind,the more neural connections our brain makes as new neurons awaken and start to fire that were previously asleep or disconnected. Likewise, the more we escape our secret prison, the less hardened our mind becomes as our defense mechanisms begin to evaporate, faulty neural pathways begin to rewrite, and our mind starts to open up to new possible connections. This is known as neural plasticity, as our brain is not a static organ, but can change and grow throughout its lifetime.

From an article in Wake Up World by  Tim Bryant

Posted by | Paul Reynolds
Paul has been a yoga teacher on the Island of Kauai for many years and is the facilitator of the weekly Living the Question Blog - a repository of wisdom and inspiration. Paul also produces and hosts Le Guru is You Radio Show, showcasing everyday gurus.

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