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Wake Up !

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Wake up

How much of the time are we really awake? Most of us are so good at dealing with our daily tasks that we go on autopilot. We put on our clothes, eat breakfast and drive to work without really paying attention. We don’t need to pay attention, because we know how to do these tasks.

Sometimes we are not paying attention because we are distracted. When faced with a situation where autopilot mode won’t do, we go into problem solving or pseudo-problem solving, also known as worry. We run the scenario through our heads with possible solutions and various outcomes. Our attention is inward, but directed at the problem and not at our experience. We lose ourselves in thought and anxious emotion.

We also take ourselves out of awareness of the present moment by rerunning old memories. Or we might lose ourselves in fantasy. We dream up alternate life scripts—the ones where we have more than enough money, the perfect mate, the cool car, and the better job.

With TV we don’t have to think at all. With the push of a button we can give over our consciousness to an industry that has the purpose of hypnotizing us into buying things from advertisers.

Sometimes though, if we are lucky, we might have a moment when we are fully awake and alive. We are conscious of our experience. We know where we are and what we are doing. We experience our senses. We are in a particular place and a particular moment, and the moment has a wholeness to it that seems quite different from the dull, monotonous or anxious moments that fill most of our lives.

We could be so much more alive if we could foster the process of being awake. Typically, this is what mystics are about. They may frame it in terms of a particular religious tradition, but the classic mystical experience is all about waking up. We don’t have to go off to meditate in a cave or pray in a monastery to wake up more. We can use the world of our daily lives as the ground of our awakening. What might this look like?

Practice breathing: Deeper, slower breathing induces relaxation. When we are relaxed we can be more responsive. Relaxed doesn’t just mean limp. Relaxed muscles can be strong, but they are not tense. When you notice that you are tense, remember to breathe more deeply and slowly.

Practice attention: Meditation is practice for waking up. We call ourselves to attention, lose the attention, and call ourselves back to it.

Practice attention in motion: Living mindfully, we resolve to remember to be aware. We do what we do with the intention of noticing that we are doing it, where we are, what we sense, what our inner experience is. We practice mindfulness so that it becomes habit. Habit means we don’t have to think about it so much. Through repetitive coming back to the immediate moment, we become accustomed to doing so. We no longer have to put so much energy into remembering to be aware. We just are aware one moment following another.

Flow: Develop some skill that can take you to moments of complete involvement. It could be art, dance, sport, work with your hands, a spiritual practice or religious ritual. Give yourself to it so that you are fully engaged in the process. As you become involved and your ego gets out of the way, you may notice that you are alive in action.

No contest: Being awake is not a contest. It doesn’t matter if you are more or less awakened than someone else. When you start evaluating your mindfulness or your meditation practice in critical terms, you are not being fully present. Accept your moments of awareness and your moments of dullness. Accept happy as well as sad. Trying and judging are where you start. Doing, being, and accepting are where you may end up.

source: www.interluderetreat.com

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