Many people confuse awareness with consciousness, and with their observing mind. Read on to learn the difference. And if you have trouble meditating or when you meditate you get caught up in your thoughts, this information will help you understand why.
Awareness is a state of consciousness where you can ‘see’ or witness yourself, as if you were looking at yourself from outside yourself.
It’s a state you can access with meditation and mindfulness techniques (such as karma yoga) – as long as you can unhook from your mind, which often believes it is the same as awareness.
There are also degrees of being aware. So you can be a little bit aware or experience a full-blown awareness state.
Awareness is something that grows naturally when you do Voice Dialogue (read my home page if you’ve just arrived here and are new to Voice Dialogue).
Becoming Aware Isn’t the Same as Becoming More Conscious
Awareness is an aspect of consciousness. Because for consciousness to grow, you also need to experience the world. And you experience the world through the many selves that make up who you are (see this about Voice Dialogue page for more information on how the psyche is made up of many selves).
And then you need to have the ability to choose how you respond to the world.
But to genuinely have choice you have to experience opposites. The perspectives, realities or truths – of both sides of a polarity, such as responsibility vs irresponsibility, organisation vs chaos, mind vs feeling, generous vs selfish, doing vs being.
That’s what an aware ego is all about. An aware ego is what is ignited and strengthened by doing the Voice Dialogue technique.
The 3 Aspects of Consciousness
The three aspects of consciousness are awareness, experience and the aware ego.
- The aware ego on its own isn’t consciousness – it exists in relation to our selves and needs awareness to be an ‘aware’ ego.
- The selves on their own don’t necessarily wish to become conscious of other selves, or even of themselves. They experience life only from their own perspective. They have beliefs, rules, feelings if they are a feeling self, and judgments (Hint: if you find yourself judging something, you are in that moment identified with a self. Neither awareness nor the aware ego judge. So you can use your judgments as teachers – learn how this works in relationship here.)
- And awareness on its own enables you to perceive what is, but it doesn’t enable you to act.
Awareness and the Observing Mind
It’s important to differentiate between awareness and the observing mind, which can often masquerade as awareness.
How to differentiate?
Your observing mind will know a lot about you and your other selves, and the other people you’re involved with. And this knowledge will be able to be expressed verbally.
The observing mind is a mental energy, and feels as if it is located up high in your head.
Awareness, on the other hand, is also a state where there is knowing but it has a different quality: It can ‘know’ the mind and also know a completely non-mind self such as the being self.
It witnesses the selves, with no judgment and no agenda. And awareness doesn’t speak or analyse.
A Simple Exercise to Develop Awareness
Pick a simple activity you do regularly, such as brushing your teeth, packing the dishwasher or walking your dog. While doing that activity try to become aware of yourself doing it. Really pay attention to what you are doing in each moment. Feel what is happening in your body and in your mind and with your emotions.
If you have experienced a Voice Dialogue session and have met some of your selves, try to identify who in you is present while you do your activity.
Is it your Pusher, making you brush your teeth quickly so you can get on with something else? Is your Inner Critic watching you? Are you distracted with the thoughts of your Perfectionist or maybe the fantasies of your Inner Adventurer? How do those selves make you feel?
Repeat this exercise a number of times and you’ll find it becomes easier to experience the state of awareness.
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