Cultivating Awareness

From our e-book “We are Here to Celebrate”

person standing near lake

‘In terms of practice, cultivate the Witness state first during routine activities, like dish washing, housecleaning, walking, eating, bathing, from the beginning to the end, continuously. As the Witness state becomes more stable, remember it during activities which require more concentration or attention: repairing something, shopping, listening to someone speak on the telephone; later when it is more firmly established, cultivate it while the mind is engaged in reading or other activities which require much concentration. Even then, part of the consciousness can remain as a Witness, in a state of “internal focus,” while the rest of the consciousness is concentrating on the tasks or challenges at hand, that is, “external focus.”

If most of your time is absorbed in challenging activities which require much “external focus” then find ways to simplify it, and to reserve more time for pastimes which will enable you to cultivate “internal focus.” Why is this important? It is what I like to refer to as “the game of consciousness.” Every time you play it, that is, you practice being present and aware, that is the Witness, bliss appears. Guaranteed! And every time you forget to be the Witness, suffering appears; automatically. You can easily test this. It is the only game in life where you always win. In all the other games, you ultimately lose, because only Presence, Consciousness and Bliss are eternal and infinite.

When there is awareness, there is happiness; when it is absent, there is suffering. It is not enough to know this; we must make a ‘commitment’ to remain aware as much as possible. Even if we commit to ourselves to remain aware, we will very often be overcome by our habitual tendencies to let our mind fluctuate. We need to maintain a consistent Yoga practice. That is, we first train our mind to remain aware when there are minimum distractions; when we are meditating. We then bring that awareness to our daily life and according to MG Satchidananda, that is when real Yoga begins. Merely practicing Yoga without bringing that awareness to our daily life is a waste. Actually, that
awareness will flow into our daily life naturally if we maintain a consistent practice and make the commitment to remain aware, to enjoy the bliss of being aware and not being tossed around by the giant waves of life.

In November 2007, I asked Rudra Shivananda, “What is the most important ingredient or factor for self-realisation?” He answered with certainty, “Awareness: But awareness takes up prana and our Kriya Yoga practices enable us to have sufficient prana to do so.” I have read a few of his books and I loved them because all his teachings are like the above answer to my question; they are simple, practical and easy to understand.

Kriya means “action with awareness.” It is derived from the word karma, which means “action with consequences,” or “action with reaction.” Awareness occurs whenever part of our consciousness separates itself from that which is involved in the five senses, thinking or other movements of the mind, and standing back, merely watches.

Awareness occurs whenever we are fully present with whatever is occurring, and when we choose to be the Seer, or Witness to the drama of our lives. One practices various techniques or “kriyas” in order to cultivate such awareness in all five planes of existence: physically through the asanas, or physical postures, vitally through Kundalini pranayama breathing, mentally, through special meditation techniques, intellectually through Kriya mantra yoga, and spiritually, through the cultivation of Kriya bhakti yoga of love and devotion. – MG Satchidananda.

Developing the witness perspective requires practice because we have the habit of living
unconsciously and thus, allowing ourselves to flow with our karma.  There are some useful tips to change this. We get mentally tired because we allow ourselves to be thrown about by the karmic circumstances and the resistance we put up to try to control our external circumstances. Fighting the external circumstances takes up a lot of energy; wasted energy that could have been used to maintain our calm and serenity.

From this moment onward, let us observe our breath and maintain full awareness. When we chose to experience life as a human, we were given a tool that can bring us back to our true nature. As long as we live, we have it. It is our breath. When we breathe consciously, we automatically become aware of the present moment. We just have to come back to our breath every time we get distracted by excitement or negative emotions.

We remain a child in our hearts. When we are conscious, when there is no thought, we are pure: As pure as a new born at that very moment. Remember and enjoy that purity. I AM. In REALITY, all the knowledge and experiences of the world is irrelevant. In REALITY, only purity exist; only LOVE.

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