Not that I was qualified to write anything of importance about conciousness. It’s just that the topic has been in my head, more than usually, in the last days and weeks. It also appeared in my conversations quite a bit recently.
Consciousness. For me it’s a topic that comes and goes.
It’s like, I build it up, it becomes more and more natural to me to be conscious and aware. It enables me to be present, able to act, listening and open. Then it’s so natural that I forget to cultivate it again and fall back into patterns of… unconsciousness? What would be the word? Normalness? Superficiality, tension, fear?
Some days ago I had a conversation with a friend that I’m living with currently in Sevilla. He was talking about building up patterns that help getting back to consciousness. Before walking into a building, taking a deep breath. Releasing tension in the body. Feeling your feet on the ground. He reminded me that it’s a practice again and again – though I’d prefer to not establish new patterns of behaviour, it might still be a helpful first step, like crutches are when you need to learn walking again.
What does it serve? To be conscious?
First, it’s life, isn’t it? What else would you spend your time with, if not with feeling, enjoying, honouring what is, being present?
Then, it serves quite a few purposes for me. It helps me feel my body – or the other way around, feeling my body helps me be aware – and through that be able to use it more efficiently and give it more care.
It helps me to realise when I’m worrying about the future. I might usually believe that what I project onto the future is the truth and is important! But it actually isn’t. This quote that says that worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere, I find it to be true.
It helps me, once I realise that I am worrying or falling for another harmful pattern, to either enjoy it and explore it, laugh about it or do something about it. I can’t do anything about it, if I don’t know it’s happening.
This morning I talked with another good friend. He reminded me of the importance of conciousness and what he said also made me remember a learning pattern I once learned from the feldenkrais method. There’s four steps in changing a pattern, if I’m not mistaken.
You start off being unaware of your pattern. You do it, you don’t notice it. Like this word you say very often or the ‘um’ you put in every sentence or the way you tense your little finger when you walk.
Then, somebody tells you or you notice in another way. Consciously unable. You know you’re doing it but you just can’t help it. You keep repeating it, especially in moments of stress. Very annoying state, because you are now painfully aware of stuff that you might not like to be doing. Here it helps to practice consciousness, to be curious about what you’re doing and when and where it comes from. Explore it, you can’t change it yet. As you become more and more aware of your pattern, of the reasons why you do it, the times when you fall in it, what triggers it and how exactly you do it, you might be able to play with it. There’s this moment when you notice the trigger coming and you notice yourself reacting and for the first time you can either watch it completely consciously or change it a slight bit. Don’t become overambitious here. Keep watching, keep being curious, play with it. Don’t force it, you’ll lose it. Until, sometime you’re able to influence it. Amazing feeling of competence. I have the power to guide myself, that’s how it should be.
And the last step, unconsciously able. You can influence it and use it, but you don’t need to think about it every time before doing it. You sit down smoothly, don’t let yourself fall anymore. You breathe easily automatically when you become stressed. You talk clearly and loudly, no more mumbling. You have enabled yourself to function more efficiently through consciousness.
What this friend, Graham, said to me this morning reminded me of another important issue. The consciousness about the role I own in a group. Which is the role I take up and how does it express itself in me? Do I realise how I slip into roles? Am I aware what role or roles I fulfill for others? If this role feels comfortable and good for me, how does it feel good? What need of mine does it meet and what does it express? If it doesn’t feel good, why does it seem important for me to take it up? Do I choose to be in this role and when have I decided? If I am insecure, why, when, what, it might be time for curiosity, exploration. When do I switch roles? When I pass the doorstep? When I see somebody? When I slept good or bad? When I feel comfortable or insecure?
Can I play with it?
Maybe one last thought that’s in my mind, what I learned from a guy called Floris; “You’re free in everything you can play with.” And at least for me, that starts with consciousness.
Or the other way around.