Subtle Defences: Complicating Awareness By Creating Time
It’s important to look closely at what’s involved in recognizing the natural state of being aware….
As we work with our various patterns, one of the things that happens is that we gravitate to specific techniques and practices that help us “shepherd our system” toward presence and through states of dysregulation. Mantra, breathwork, somatic movement, kindness phrases, focusing on deep intentions, and even simple grounding in seated meditation all qualify as “tricks of the trade” in this regard. Over time, we become ever more skillful at deeply listening to the needs of the system and responding with the right tool at the right moment.
So far so good.
However, as always, we’re interested in identifying the places the ego can “come through the back door.” The mother of all backdoors for the ego is the commandeering/”take over” of the spiritual process!
This is its favorite thing to do! The irony! We deeply commit to a process to help the ego relinquish its control and authority, only to have it start controlling/running that process in the background.
One of the most insidious ways it does this is through subtly (and often unconsciously) putting awareness “out of reach.” It makes awareness into some goal that needs to be manufactured through some kind of (egoic) effort.
“I can’t be aware yet because I’m not grounded.”
“I can’t access presence because I’m angry and I just lied to my partner.”
“I overate at dinner and didn’t do yoga today, so no presence for me.”
“I can’t be aware if I’m not in a calm place.”
One thing you might notice in all these states is that future is being created. Time is now a requirement for simply being ourselves. We need to do some process. We need to become pure, or worthy, or calm, or peaceful, or whatever.
Basically, in place of simply recognizing awareness now, the ego has erected a very subtle process to keep us from doing that. This is the mother of all defense mechanisms!
Fortunately, counteracting this view simply requires us to investigate – to look closely at what is.
As we sit here, awareness appears. We wake out up out of identification with the mind. Presence is glimpsed/recognized. There is not a single state we can conjure that awareness is not present for. Why? Because all states appear in awareness!
If we are challenged, or dysregulated, or grieving, or angry, the sense of being aware will “flicker” like someone is turning a light switch on and off rapidly. We will recognize the natural state, and then it will be covered over.
This oscillation can be tiring, and learning how not to resist it is probably one of the greatest arts of the spiritual journey.
But look carefully a level down. Does the moment of recognizing awareness require effort in the conventional sense? Does surrendering to and embodying presence actually require you to “do something”? Is it “effort,” or are we really talking about willingness? Is it “discipline,” or are we really talking about interest?
Really look. Only you can know the truth of how the shift into awareness feels in your system. You must know that art of shifting intimately. You must take complete ownership of it. No outside authority can do that for you.