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Monday, August 25, 2008

Consciousness Is A Full-time Job

Today's post is very connected to yesterday's topic about gaining inner freedom and inner peace.

In order to get to that place, at some point you have to realize and assimilate that this is not something you do on Sundays, or on a weekend workshop, or when you feel relaxed, or on a week-long retreat. This - becoming conscious and staying conscious - is a full-time job.

That means that especially at the beginning you will need to make the conscious choice of how much intention you will put into paying attention to what it is you are thinking, feeling, doing, and saying. Because if you don't make such a conscious choice, and begin to apply some discipline in order to bring about this process, not much will happen.

As this becomes more ingrained, more of a habit, you will - as I wrote yesterday when I gave the example of mindfulness meditation - notice that it soon requires less of an effort. It is something you now do without constantly needing to think about it, and remind yourself about it. But at the beginning that is precisely what is required. You need to constantly remind yourself in order to remain conscious, or to pull yourself back into consciousness, into awareness.

Even if you have to resort to tricks such as putting post-it notes up on your bathroom mirror and in the kitchen, or putting paper clips in your pockets so that when you feel them, and ask yourself what they are doing there, you remember to remember to remain conscious or to return to consciousness. Some people put a small pebble in their change purse, others set the alarm on their mobiles to vibrate once an hour, or set the kitchen timer in a similar fashion, simply to use any method that works to help you remain conscious, or if you've slipped back into blindness, to help you come back from there.

However, at the beginning, as you make a conscious choice to follow this process, you will also begin to realize the absolute need for you to decide to become totally responsible for yourself. And in so doing, you will realize that:
  • It is not enough to go to a seminar and get all revved up by a particularly inspirational speaker.
  • It is not enough to read yet another book that makes you feel so wonderful while you read it because it addresses all those issues that you so much want to work on.
  • It is not enough to participate in yet another interactive workshop that blows your mind because of how you feel when you are performing whatever it is that the workshop is about.
  • None of this is enough unless you also decide to take all these wonderful things that you are hearing, reading, and participating in, and make use of them throughout your day, every day, to the end of your life.

Consciousness is a full-time job. Until you realize this, until you internalize it, until you decide to make this realization a central and fundamental part of your life, and then act upon it, becoming conscious - and living a conscious life - will elude you and slip from your grasp over and over again, just as wisps of fog over the sea evanesce in the morning light.

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