If you had to ask me to describe what awakening feels like, I would probably just respond by sitting in silence. There are no words that can do it justice. There are no words that can actually help you understand it. Simply because it is not something that can be understood by the mind. It can only be experienced.
Most of us spend our entire lives trying to understand everything better; “Why am I having these experiences? Why is this happening to me? What do I need to learn from this experience?” We rationalise and analyse until we are blue in the face, often finding some small obscure reason that helps us to continue on for a little while longer until something happens to make those questions rear their unpleasant heads again. We constantly do this to ourselves, thinking that what is around the next bend, whatever the next rational conclusion we reach, will be the thing that will change our lives and suddenly everything will fall into place and our dream life will be ours. We continually hurt ourselves by consistently believing that what we want is around the next corner, always just out of reach. It’s the proverbial dangling carrot! As soon as we feel like we are getting close, we somehow lose our footing and fall a few steps behind again, scrambling to catch up. And with that, time seems to be our enemy. We appear to always be at the mercy of time. One of the biggest excuses we hear is, “I don’t have enough time.”
But, what is time? It is something we never seem to have enough of, or it’s something we have too much of. Think of any exciting event in your life and you will notice how time seemed to get in the way of the arrival of that moment. It couldn’t come soon enough, and then as soon as it was over it felt like it happened years ago. Time is one of the biggest illusions. Our sense of the past and the future are a part of that illusion because everything happens in the present moment. One of the most intriguing aspects of awakening is the profound sense of timelessness that envelopes you. The future ceases to exist. From where you are sitting, that might seem like a scary thing, but the experience of it is quite peaceful and comforting if you can stay in the extended and expanded aliveness of now – the present moment. After all, that’s all we ever have anyway.
Our desire to experience anything other than the present moment, and the sense of control we try to impose on this moment, is merely a fear of the unknown. It is our unwillingness to accept what is, exactly as it is. But we are only fooling ourselves. We are living in a self-reflected bubble which is keeping our hopes alive of being able to experience something other than what we are currently experiencing in this moment. It is the reflection that we cling to. It is the reflection of what we want that hinders us from actually experiencing the perfection of what is happening right now. What can we truly hope to achieve if we are so dead set on escaping this moment?
There are so many ways in which we can try to escape our reality – think alcohol, drugs, gambling, to name but a few. Answer honestly, how well have those behaviours truly been serving you? How much joy and bliss do you really get from them? My guess would be, not much, or not for long.
When you have awakened, there is no longer a desire or need to escape. There is no benefit to not being here, now. In fact, not being present is what causes such discomfort and misery. We do it to ourselves by denying what is, by resisting what is. In this moment, there is peace and bliss if we allow ourselves to feel it. We remove ourselves from that Garden of Eden to perpetuate in our minds a sense of lack, the need for our every desire to manifest right now, for things to be different than they are in the present moment. This in no way means that you have to accept your entire life situation as it is. We are all faced with challenges that require our attention and that evoke emotion. That is a part of the human experience. The best way to remove the resistance to what is and to fully engage in this moment, is to accept this moment as it is, warts and all. We can still have dreams and desires for more in our lives, but the attachment to the manifestation of that dream keeps us future-focused and unable to enjoy each moment we experience along the way. To put it differently, we can be headed in a certain desired direction and do what we can in this moment to get there, but if our focus is on the end goal, we are missing the point entirely. Life is made up of the “now” moment. Whatever is happening now is what really requires our attention. It is in this moment that we are truly living, that we are truly alive. To awaken is to be fully present in the aliveness of the now.
It is in the aliveness of this moment that your true essence can be felt. It is only right now that your true self can emerge. We have been weighed down by all the stories we carry about ourselves, who we think we are and who we have been told we are. I have been told all my life that I am a Faine, but what is a Faine? A Faine is a character that I have chosen to play in this lifetime. And I think I play a Faine pretty damn well. But I have so identified myself as a Faine that I have lost sight of the fact that the real me, my true essence, is playing this Faine character. So my question to you is this: Who are you? What character are you playing? And do you realise that you are playing that character? Do you realise that there is more to you than the character you are playing?
The truth as I understand it is that you are not that character. You are the animation, the presence, the essence behind the character, beyond the character. Your true self is far greater than the character you are playing. The awakening process is one of awakening to your true self, but to get there you have to acknowledge that the character you have been playing is just that, a character. You have to be open to the idea that there is so much more to you than you have previously seen or experienced. You have to let go of all the stories you have come to believe about who you are. Once you undo your prior conditioning, once you can see who you are not, then you can awaken to your true self. And it is a beautiful thing. It is an unknowing of everything you thought you knew, so you can awaken to the truth. With the right teacher, the right guide, it can happen in a moment. It can happen in this moment. You can choose to experience it right now. As long as you are willing to release yourself from your suffering, from your conditioning, and from the character you are playing.
That is what my teacher did for me. He helped me to see everything I am not, the character with which I have so strongly identified as myself for so long. He helped me to experience a release of my attachment to that small, contracted character. He guided me to experience an awakening of expanded consciousness. The world suddenly became more connected. The “I” that is referred to here is merely used as a reference point, because it felt as if that “I” merged with all the other “I’s” in the world. I looked outside the window of the office we were in and noticed a tree swaying in the wind. It felt as if I was that tree. I was swaying with the moment, rather than trying to control it, and there was something keeping me strong and grounded as I moved with the experience. I felt free. All the old baggage and stories I carried that were attached to the Faine character disappeared. They became irrelevant and insignificant. The moment was so pure and perfect, I had absolutely no desire to be anywhere else, or to be doing anything else. I just wanted to be.
We are always so busy doing, or feeling guilty because we feel there is something we should be doing, that we completely miss the beauty of the moment that is. While life and everything in it seems so complex, the moment I am in right now as I write this, the moment I was in when seated in that office, is actually so simple. There is a fullness and a perfection to this moment, even though I can acknowledge that my life situation is not everything I would like it to be yet. When you experience the awakening, you notice how profoundly simple it really is. You notice how connected everything is. All of those slogans and quotes that speak of “oneness”, and the connection of all things, suddenly take on a deeper meaning. Most people love the idea of oneness and connection, rather than separation and isolation, the awakening is where you truly get to experience the wonder of it, to be in wonder of it. It took a 2 hour awakening session to reach that point and to begin integrating all of it. It was an unbelievably simple and extremely enjoyable process with a profoundly illuminating outcome that I will never forget.
Staying consciously awake once you leave the session is the next step in the process. The clarity that comes with the awakening experience begins to fade and become cloudy after some time. The challenge, then, is to bring yourself back to the awake state every time you feel pulled into old unconscious programmes and identification with the character. But that is a discussion for another time. The best advice I could give is to find yourself a teacher or teaching that will point you in the right direction when you feel the clouds rolling in. And, more than that, to just enjoy the experience by enjoying the presence within you in this moment.