Since the dawn of the Human adventure, the practice of what could be called Presence has been the keystone of all high performance and real Consciousness evolution endeavors. It has been done in almost as many different ways as there were different people, from various cultures, creeds and time periods to practice it. A great deal of them didn’t necessarily know they were practicing Presence but they were all, in one way or another, aware of the primordial importance of being fully present, Here and Now. The key is that there is no optimal expression of human potential outside of the Present Moment. Actually, there is no REAL expression of who we are outside of this Instant. It is indeed a key point. So, if the Present moment is indeed all there really IS, how could we ever be outside of it? Well, that is the all point. In reality, we can not. Yet, regardless to our culture, age or gender, we as human beings have a general tendency to “be stuck in our minds” instead of being in touch with the reality of our experiences. In other words, we generally try to figure things out instead of Observing how things actually are and adapt to them consciously. The filters of our past experiences bring anxiety, guilt, a whole spectrum of negative emotions and breed expectations about the future. These expectations will in turn generate stress and irrational fears as we anticipate undesired outcomes. This has been referred to as “the vicious cycle of Time”. Our minds tend to stay focused on anything but the Present Moment, except as a mean to an end which means looking at the Present Moment through the filters of our expectations. Past and future seem to exert a quasi-hypnotic effect on our psyche. Inhibitors and Motivators from the past alike, Fears and Plans about the future alike, we seldom are purely, consciously Here and Now.
Because of that, some would rather voluntarily design a positive future to focus on. Others came to the conclusion that being Present is great and all but then we have to get back into the “real world” and take action! This could not be any further from the truth. Anybody who can only be Present when inactive or just in silent, non-soliciting environments is not yet Present. Don’t get me wrong, being immobile in a peaceful, silent environment may be a good place to start practicing. Yet, if entertained for too long without experiencing that state of being fully Present in our daily lives, there is a great danger to create an illusory inner world of “false peace”, a pure construct of the mind that could seriously delay our access back to real Consciousness. Reality is then often confused with a set of concepts, beliefs, we can get strongly attached to and do our best to be in conformity with. We would typically defend these points of view whenever challenged as if our very identity depended on them!
Best case scenario: We follow that model for some time as it feels reassuring and gives us a sense of “doing things right”, “by the book”. We may come across some incongruences as our life experiences would not seem to follow the same models and values. The suffering coming from the distortions between the reality of our experience and our representation/interpretation of it will, in time, be our greatest ally to dissolve the illusion and bring us back to what IS. The key here is that the pain and suffering we experience is, in most cases, largely caused by the drama and stories we tell ourselves, and others, about our experiences. Although we are mostly doing it unconsciously, our interpretations of the facts are often way, way worse than the actual events.
Yet, in some cases, the suffering will be interpreted and used to feed and further the illusion. This is particularly true when the stories include an “enemy”, and “adversary”, seen as responsible for the obstacles encountered and the pain that seem to come as a consequence. We will go much more in-depth into this notion of an “enemy” and how we use it almost universally. Some may see it as a motivator, a kind of guardian that keeps us on our toes, and it can be for a while. Yet, at the end of the day, it is one of the greatest hindrance to our real fulfillment.
As stated in a previous article, there are different depth or levels of Presence as there are several layers in human Consciousness. A functional approach of the Levels of Consciousness is part of the foundational Consciousness Practice described in this article series. So, it will be the subject and center of articles to come. The point I would like to make here is that coming back to Here and Now is just the beginning. It is like a doorway if you will, to start our journey back to full Awareness of who we really are. This is actually what all this is about. We human beings have collectively forgotten our real Identity. And because of that incredible fact, we try desperately to find surrogate identities in concepts, beliefs, goals, sometimes material objects or relationships… This process of identification, due to a lack of awareness of our actual Identity, is the core principle underlying all our suffering and seemingly short comings.
The actual journey back into real Self-awareness is not, in most cases, a straight line. There is quite obviously as many paths as there are different people to make the trip. The point is, not everyone goes through, to the end of it without stopping in a “nice” (or painful) place for a while. Some stages of the journey may indeed be quite attractive (or quite uncomfortable). For some, it may take the form of a illness, a trauma or other forms of intense suffering to be overcome. In addition, or totally independently from that, phenomenons like telepathy may become much more common or the ability to read into how a situation could unfold, physical prowess, and so many other fantastic deeds… Yet, those are not the reality of who we are. They are just glimpses of how we actually interact with the Universe in our Natural Awakened State. There is also the possibility that none of these show up! In that case, it shouldn’t be taken as if something was missing. It is just a different path. Focusing too much on those or on their absence, could again create or feed a false sense of identity that would only delay the realization of our real Self. In all cases, painful and extraordinary phenomenons alike are not to be pursued nor are they to be rejected. They should be welcomed and disregarded with equal non-attachment.
It is very common to get interested and actually start the whole “Consciousness journey” either to solve a major issue or in pursuit of “superpowers”. Both can be great motivators, both with their own pitfalls. So at some point, they would have to be put aside. By that I mean that, as justified as our first motivations may be, they shouldn’t stay our point of focus for too long. Fancy and useful as some of the “abilities” may be, they are not the “Pearl”. Painful and problematic as our life situation may be, it paradoxically can act as an incentive to find Peace. Challenges and suffering can indeed open us to areas of learning we might have just not even considered otherwise. Yet the betterment of our life situation, important as it may be, is not the ultimate goal. It has been compared to a prisoner making its cell nicer as opposed to actually breaking free… By the way, the seeming absence of “problems” in ones life, or the display of “supernatural abilities”, does not mean that this person is free, or more awake, absolutely not! Things just happen at a different level at that particular time for that person. So, along the way, we may experience many things, “good or bad”, let us make sure we stay focused on the actual “game” and don’t get too distracted by the commercials…
So, how can we get out of the illusion? How do we practically come “back to our senses”?
To answer that question, we will come back to the basic content of our minds: Thoughts, emotions and sensed perceptions. Each of those can as much be a source of distraction as they can actually be used to come back to Presence. They could be looked at as doorways in and out of Presence. So becoming more aware of those items, by learning to Observe them, will prove to be a great asset in our journey back into the remembrance of our real Self. This is what the whole deal is about: remembering, reconnecting with our real Nature, beyond all and any conditioning. We can so easily get confused between our habitual self and our Natural Self. The deal is to recover the awareness of our Natural Self so it can become our new Habitual one.
Now, let’s get into it. Again, all five senses, emotions and thoughts can be involved. In previous articles we have discussed a modality of Observing ones thoughts and emotions in correlation with physical sensations. This is definitely a key modality to start detaching ones identity from the content of their mind. We may begin to be aware of the Space surrounding all mind content and witness the liberating effect of “just” letting that awareness grow, organically, all by it self. For further detail on how to focus and Observe thoughts and emotions, please refer to those articles.
How to apply it to sensed perceptions, on the other hand, have yet to be described. We are going to consider them one at a time using signals coming from the environment. Before we start, it can be very useful to keep in mind that we are all wired differently. So, if indeed each of these methods can be practiced by just anybody, it is very common to feel, particularly in the beginning, more at ease or as if more familiar with one (or two) methods amongst all of them. So if one does not seem to resonate with you, just go to the next one. Starting by the point of less resistance will help you to become more familiar with the state of Presence first. Exploring the less obvious senses could then become much easier. The fact is that there comes a time in the practice when you will be able to reach Presence through any and all “doors”, almost indifferently. It is a matter of being aware of the current state of your system, your body/mind complex, and to work with it, never against it.
So no force, no submission, just consistency with a lot of non-attached Observation and always adapt to “surf the wave of Presence”. With Permanent Accurate Training, you will become able to do that regardless to the situation you find yourself in.
Wherever you may be, consciously listen to the ambient background noise. Listen carefully and openly to each sound for a few seconds. Take your time and really listen. No comments, analysis or labeling involved, just actively listening. Then pay attention to the silence preceding and following each sound. This is the point: Being aware of the ever present Silence regardless to the noise surrounding you. Sounds, like all stimuli, have a tendency to attract and polarize our attention. Just observing them while being aware of the surrounding silence, at the same time, can be incredibly relaxing. Also, witness how being aware of it seems to create an echo inside. An inner silence, a space of tranquility seems to appear.
Choose two different surfaces you may have easily access to right now. A table and the fabric of your trousers, the cover of a book and the pages inside the book, the inner and outer surface of a banana peel, … It really can be just anything. The contrast just has to be clear for you, easy to feel. Alternatively touch each surface, one after the other, back and forth. Again, no comments or labeling of any kind involved, just actively feeling. Then, when the contrast has been clearly perceived, touch both surfaces at the same time, with each hand. Even though the whole hand is appropriate, the pads of the fingers are usually the best to use for this exercise. At first there might be a tendency to, very quickly, go back and forth between the two contrasted feelings. Be aware of it if it happens and make sure to really be aware of the two touch sensations at the same time. It requires to “step back” from the front line of our perceptions, if you will, and to Observe as if from a more opened and receptive state of mind. This makes you instantly aware of the Space in which the feelings occur. At this point, you start to disentangle the content of your mind from what your mind really is: a Space of Awareness.
Consider the totality of your visual field. It can schematically be divided in three concentric zones. In the center, right in front of you, is the focal zone. Around it is the proximal area which contains images we are easily aware of without focusing on them. It is the part of the background we are actually aware of. Then there is the peripheral zone, close to the edge. This quick description does not take into account the binocular aspect of it but it is not absolutely necessary at this stage. The idea here is to learn to focus our attention on what is at the periphery of our visual field. Becoming aware of the content of our visual peripheral zone has so many benefits, it would deserve its own entire article series! For now, pick an object in front of you. Let your gaze gently on it while you progressively switch your attention to what is close to the outer limits of your visual field. You may be tempted to actually turn your eyes (or your head) to take a peak! Don’t. If it happens, just come back to passively Observing the chosen object in front of you and start over. As with the first two, no comments or labeling of any kind involved, just witnessing, as passively and consciously as possible. This inner gymnastic will open your awareness to things that have been there all along without you noticing them, both literally and figuratively.
Before or at least two hours after eating anything, pay attention to the possible presence of a taste in your mouth. Kindly pay attention to it, following the same principles previously described. Just Observe, no comments or labeling of any kind. Let the taste evolve, by itself. It may change a lot both in intensity and nature, or not. Stay passively, yet ever consciously, with it. Observe and become aware of the space in which the taste perception occurs. The same practice can be performed while eating. It helps greatly to get and absorb the best of what we eat.
In a relatively odor free environment , pay attention to the quality of the air you breath in. Try to discern if there is indeed a smell, subtle as it may be. There may be more than one. Do not try to identify or otherwise categorize it. Not even to determine if you like it or not. Just Observe it and, as before, let it go its own course, just be its witness. The more passive and aware you are, the better. The same can be done in a kitchen or any other place full of obvious smells. The only difference is that you will have to open up to all the smells at once and let them be spontaneously sorted out by your system. Observe which odor may or may not be selected and let it go its spontaneous course in your mind/body complex. The sense of smell directly involves the most basic structures of our brains. We have little to no filters involved with this one. Awareness of the air we breathe and the smells in it, may greatly contribute to enhance our vital energy. Again, this is vast topic I would strongly encourage you to explore. It is really about witnessing what happens inside of us when there is Awareness with no interference.
The key with each sensed perception is the same: Observe them freely, and let them evolve spontaneously. Be as aware as possible of the inner context, the virtual Space in which they occur. Listen, feel, observe, taste, smell and let the perception go its own course with as little intervention as possible involved, better none. When the perception has reached a seeming point of equilibrium, continue to Observe the inner Space of Awareness itself, for as long as it is comfortable. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter how long it lasts. Being aware of our inner Space of Awareness, even for a fraction of a second, is already of great benefits. Just do it over and over again. Doing so, on top increasing dramatically our ability to heal and recover from various disruptions of our equilibrium, opens the doors of the inner Space of Presence, where everything IS possible. These simple practices can be performed just anywhere, anytime and bring great benefits to any committed individual. You can not over do it.