How Consciousness Becomes Blocked

It’s not uncommon to find you have a block in your body, a place that feels tight and inflexible, where perhaps breath or movement is limited, but have you ever considered you may also experience blocks in your consciousness?hs-1998-13-c-thumb

People who have had energetic awakenings often feel they must unblock a chakra or a stuck place in their belly, chest, or throat before their energy will flow smoothly, enabling them to reach another degree of expanded consciousness. But this is only addressing the relative level of physical form. What I am seeing is that it is blocks in our consciousness, even more so than our body, that keep us from awakening and living from our true nature. Consciousness gets stuck!

How we Become Stuck

How does this happen? It is the nature of mind to create an identity, collecting data points that help us form a framework for what we are. So experiences and lessons learned are organized and programmed into our subtle body structure, our patterns of thought and emotion. When we awaken in the morning this programming reasserts itself and we remember me. Do you ever lie in bed when you first wake up and recall what day it is, and what you have to do today, before you move ahead? At a more subtle level you have first remembered me. This me holds your history and beliefs and an underlying assumption that everything that ever happened to you is true. And it is stuck.

This stickiness is like liquid cement forming blocks where you are not free because you are glued to an old memory, event or feeling that colors every aspect of your life.

These stuck places keep you from the freedom you are seeking. They were built at moments of great intensity – perhaps because of trauma, loss, fear or grief. I have seen them in people who cannot release the intensity of a past love, or the grief of a childhood loss, or the sense of a major failure. The intensity of a great love or a sacred experience that expands you beyond the boundaries of the personal self can also create a stuck place. The mind returns to it over and over again, or interprets the world through this lens and finds ordinary life insufficient, lacking the light and magic once experienced briefly. Anything felt intensely or believed thoroughly becomes a stopping place. It can create a sense of limitation, of failure, even of completion that inhibits further depth of understanding.

A block in consciousness can be as ordinary as believing in money as the proof of success (or conversely, as evil), or that a soul mate exists that must be found (or is lost), or the world is collapsing or that a new age is coming. It can be a strong belief in a spiritual tradition or a traumatic event lived over and over. It does not matter if it is negative or a positive stopping point: consciousness colors your awareness in the lens that became stuck in that moment of intensity. We see the world and experience our emotions through this distortion, and our lives are colored by it. It can be a personal lens, such as a belief you are seriously flawed, or a collective lens, such as the world is dangerous.

One example is the many ways our American political structure influences us. We are bombarded with perspectives designed to distort our perception, based on the perspectives of politicians. Our media carries continual reminders of the possibility of disaster and this information flows into our stuck places amplifying anxiety and keeping our attention focused on what can go wrong. Our brains can be spinning with concepts that support our stuck places.

It is an incredible breakthrough for anyone who can drop these heavy and dark influences long enough for consciousness to awaken itself.

How Consciousness Awakens

 I have known many blocks in consciousness, as all of us have. My perspective is clearly limited to that which is known through my own direct experience, included what is colored by the input of my family, culture and media. My parents, and then my partner in life had a strong influence on how and where I live, the children I have birthed, my lifestyle and perspectives (and I on him). One example — the loss of my mother at an early age colored how I felt about the stability of family and the anxiety I projected onto my children. When that block broke, a new perspective emerged. As I began exploring transpersonal experiences in graduate school many of the blocks of religious and cultural conditioning cracked or dissolved. But still, as a human, conditioning and outside influences shape my life. Spiritual freedom may open me to new ways of interaction with this, but does not end the encounters of my unique destiny in time and place.

I believe that every person and new experience we allow into our life adds a point of view, an opportunity for consciousness to become more inclusive, but our blocks limit who and what we let in. When blocks crack open, consciousness awakens more expansively, that is, out of the boundaries of the personal me.  This may happen through an encounter with an awakened person, through the deep silence beyond the mind discovered in meditation, and in some cases, spontaneously during moments when mind slips out of identity with our personal collection of beliefs about who we are.  The blocks

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may break suddenly like a dam that has burst. This can be felt as a shock or a blessing. We each adjust to the shift uniquely in line with our background, understanding and openness to change.

Can there be a limit?

The consciousness that has been stuck in the patterns of our belief system is originally unbounded – it permeates all the universe. It allows itself to be limited in order to have the experience of me. Who can say why, other than its inclination was to move toward creating and expressing in form, to know itself in billions of variations. We are aware that forms will arise and fall, live briefly and pass away. Underneath we believe we should never pass away, that life is too short, that we lose those we dare to love. We are afraid to lose our separate sense of me. When there is fear in an awakening process it is generally because of this attachment – the same as in the fear of death. But in fact we are only losing the limitations, the stuck places that happened in the process of living as a human, because we cannot lose the consciousness itself, the essence we are. In awakening moments we glimpse this possibility. We know it thoroughly, however briefly. We feel freedom or liberation from our stuck places. It is an openness beyond imagination. We rarely stay in this place because unfinished business recalls us to our old identities, but it is never the same again, because many of the blocks to perception cannot be rebuilt. And yet, unless we are vigilent, over time new stuck places arise. We need to meet these intensities with compassion and inclusion and then they gradually lose their capacity to create blockages in the free flow of consciousness. We need openness to what consciousness might explore, know more fully, expand into next. We need to allow this with curiousity and gratitude, rather than the drive and greed for experience characteristic of our separate self, and then we can realize more and more of what we truly are.

 

 

Self-Inquiry and the I Am

A student has asked about self-inquiry and whether he needs continually to remind himself to question “Who am I” and remember the “I am”.  His sense is that only in deep stillness is he present as the  “I am”.
One way of thinking of this awareness of “I am”, often emphasized in non-dual literature and approached in various ways by teachers, is that no matter what you are doing or thinking awareness is present. It is awareness noting your thoughts, emotions, stillness, sensations.  The way I think of self-inquiry is to just become curious about awareness itself, what is this awareness?  Where is it coming from in me?
Sometimes you are distracted by thoughts and when you notice this , you can step back out of your busy thoughts and inquire  what noticed these thoughts and distraction? How I am aware of what is happening here?

IMG_1390 Be very curious! But do not ask the mind for an answer. It is like tuning into a felt sense, and there is no mental answer — it is more like feeling into the unknown.  I think of it as turning awareness into itself and sinking into that.  Of course you can’t do this in the middle of a conversation, but you can take a breath and drop awareness into the gut and ask if what you are saying is true or authentic. Eventually when there is enough clearing so that  awakening is more consciously present you will discover how there is a felt intuitive sense in your gut .

 This intuitive knowing can guide our actions more authentically than our thoughts, and we can lean into this to establish what is true in the moment. It is like a compass connected to Source. If we go against it we usually feel uncomfortable.
However, we  can also go for years after awakening with occasionally getting entangled in an old pattern or emotion and this is not a problem, as long as we do not give up facing it.  As Adya says when these old parts of us arise, they are just old patterns that have not awakened yet. They arise for us to face them. We can then either write about them, or sit down and meet them fully and inquire about them seeking to know their source and release them or question if they are true(Byron Katie’s style) .  It is best not to be concerned about their arriving — we will always be in a human form and there can always be some old piece of work to do.  When there is, consciousness will let us know by bringing up division, confusion or emotion that doesn’t pass quickly. (We can always feel a wave of emotion but usually after a somewhat stable awakening it passes through quickly because there is no one here to hang on to it.) If it is sticky then we know it is an edge of our old identifications.  We need to accept it and meet it and see what it has to show us.

 

Eventually there is no need to feel into the I am — it is always there without words, like a relaxation into life.The one who is working to stay there falls away. Awareness can be engaged or it can be resting in spaciousness or stillness and it is all the same because no one objects or tries to change either experience.
There is a meditation on http://www.kundaliniguide.com that blends balancing energy with tuning into awareness. You might want to try it and see how it feels.

What Does Awakening Mean To You?

Awakening, for me, means an inner peace that exists prior to any of the outer challenges that life brings. It means being present with what is and free of mental reactivity that triggers resistance and contraction. And it means a gradual unfolding of consciousness into many aspects of living. When we accept how it is, how we are, we become free and awakening continually unfolds.

Awakening does not bring a perfect life and continual bliss, nor the opposite — absence of all feeling, and a dry and passive emptiness — as some people might imagine before navigating this passage. The terms emptiness and detachment are common in the world of non-duality, and are greatly misunderstood.

As we become empty of our conditioned self we move through stillness and into a vividness of the senses that is more immediate and more appreciative than previously lived. In any moment that we are really here and now we see life with more nuance – for example, the darkness or discouragement brought on by world events is seen in relationship to the innate beauty of the earth and the inherent kind spirit of most humans, who long for love and understanding and mutuality rather than violence and suffering. We see the creativity in humankind. It is seeing the whole, and while a feeling of sadness may float through the heart at certain times, this is not held as a filter through which we view all the world. Anger may arise but along beside it is a witness wondering why it is there – what hidden belief is it unveiling, what part of us is still waiting to come awake? Feelings move through and guide us to deeper truths within our self.

Awakening unwinds gradually in our life. It may come in spurts that seem to magically open before us, in an unguarded moment in which no thoughts are arising and yet presence is there. It may come when we step back out of an old pattern and feel compassion for our self and all other humans entangled in conditioned beliefs and anxieties.

Moments of awakeness may come because of a stunning sunrise, or vast view of the world, or a sense of consciousness slipping free of the limits of one body and embracing the allness of itself. They can happen when a baby smiles, or you relax into a lover’s arms just to be there, or when you are swimming and suddenly at one with the water.

Awakening is simple in that it is prior to all the complications of mind and conditioning. It is like the sky with no objects or with the planets and stars so scattered that they present no interference with the stillness. It is the moment between thoughts that is ripe with any possibility. It is the quietude in the heart that needs nothing more to happen.

You may have thought you had to be a saint to be awake, or go through a lifetime of austerity and the abandonment of human love and pleasure. But if you are only awake when in a deep meditation, separated from all the forms of life expression, then you are only half awake. We are not just awake to ourselves when we are pure untrammeled consciousness – we become awake with eyes open to the wonder of being here momentarily in the play of a human experience, with others to meet and dance with through our lives. We are here to bring consciousness and light to our world as embodiment, if even for only a brief period of time.

As we face our contractions and resistances we become more free personally, but also collectively, and generationally. We are breaking lineages that were confused and had been passing dysfunction from one generation to the next. We may wish we could wake up all at once and stay awake and never have an issue to address. But life unfolds itself more gradually, and our awakenings bring us more and more opportunities to clear away our patterns and see our potentials. Just as maturing takes humans some time to unfold, so does the maturing of our ability to live awakened in the world.