The conscious life

I’d like to ponder consciousness for a moment.

Most imagine themselves to be conscious. Perhaps you do.

We talk about being ‘knocked unconscious’ or ‘recovering consciousness’ after a shock of some sort.

But the general sense is that, apart from particular incidents, we walk around being conscious.

I am less sure about this. Most, in my experience, are conscious of very little, starting with themselves.

Evidence suggests that most of the time we are acting mechanically, in tramlines of established thought and behaviour which allows for little deviation.

We gather protectively round our self-image of someone who is pretty decent, pretty thought through, right-thinking with mind of our own etc etc…and sing with Sinatra, ‘I did it my way’.

We like what we know and know what we like.

We may not like others putting us in a box; in fact, we get very angry about that. But strangely, it’s what we do to ourselves. 

This one-sideness of attitude, allowing access to only narrow strips of experience, is the nemesis of consciousness, blocking the flow of energy through us. 

It requires a shock of some sort to take us from mechanical human to conscious human. And the opening of ourselves to consciousness is a daily activity, for it is easily lost, easily squuezed.

One simple way to loosen some of the bricks in the wall is to observe our strongly-held beliefs and opinions – and then ponder the opposite position.

Is that possible?

This is not an attempt to change your mind; you are not asked to discard your point of view. You merely include another’s.

It is a small revolution. It frees the energy blocked by the one-sidedness of our habitual consciousness. Fresh life flows into blocked areas, increasing our awareness of colour, light, nuance.

One-sidedness is the dumbed-down version of ourselves, making us dull, over-sensitive, blind and self-righteous. 

There are hurdles. To look at ourselves and the world more truthfully, we will need to get past a twisted self-love that makes a journey into awareness feel like reproof.

Maybe this feels like reproof.

It is nothing of the sort, of course. It is a description of the journey to freedom. But our self-love can make it feels so.

And so we note the intractable thing which allows us to go so far, but no further. Something blocks further journeying – something that sulks or something that smiles coldly and says nothing. Or something that shouts, ‘I won’t, I won’t!’ Or something which quietly avoids or says ‘Fuck it.’

The commitment to ignorance has various faces; the only unifying aspect is the terror behind them.

We each possess an intractable thing, yours may differ from mine. And so each day, I remember: I am not properly conscious; nor are others.

We are too often mechanical rather than aware.

And broadening consciousness of myself and the world can only occur at the expense of my usual feelings about myself, my precious self-image, the one-sidedness of my tramline senses.

So, as much as I am able, I let go of these each day, and discover I still exist.

Each day, with a deep breath, we step out of the box we inhabit and into a more spacious place where we and others exist more colourfully, more vulnerably, more differently, more truly.

We recover consciousness.

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