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How to Cultivate Awareness

Updated on March 24, 2010

Awareness, in the spiritual sense, means taking into account the totality of the environment one is part of.

According to Merriam-Webster

Main Entry: aware Pronunciation: \ə-ˈwer\Function: adjectiveEtymology: Middle English iwar, from Old Englishgewær, from ge- (associative prefix) + wær wary — more at co-, waryDate: before 12th century

1 archaic : watchful, wary
2 : having or showing realization, perception, or knowledge

aware·ness noun

synonyms aware, cognizant, conscious,sensible, alive, awake mean having knowledge of something. aware implies vigilance in observing or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences <aware of changes in climate>. cognizant implies having special or certain knowledge as from firsthand sources <not fully cognizant of the facts>.conscious implies that one is focusing one's attention on something or is even preoccupied by it <conscious that my heart was pounding>. sensible implies direct or intuitive perceiving especially of intangibles or of emotional states or qualities <sensible of a teacher's influence>. alive adds to sensible the implication of acute sensitivity to something <alive to the thrill of danger>. awake implies that one has become alive to something and is on the alert <a country always awake to the threat of invasion>.

Most of the time we are simply doing our habits. The life that we have or assumed we have is a consequence of the past. Past memories, programming, implants,suggestions, conditioning, giving us a sense of solidity. With solidity comes boundaries, and with boundaries, territories.

In the animal kingdom, the animals act by instinct. They do what they can to survive. Man, because of his assumed boundaries brought by his consciousness is still an animal by instinct, but the consciousness dictates that he protects his territory, his boundaries.

From this illusion of separation from the rest, I, me, mine arise. Some people are happy with what they have.They live their lives instinctively in this world without the need to dominate others.

Others feel the need to expand their territories and from this arises greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, anger.

The process of meditation allows us to relate to the moment as it is. No past or future, only now. From it comes the awareness that while we are part of a whole, the whole lives in us. This is affirmed by being aware of the breath. Very simply being aware of our breath is meditation. It allows us to go to the gap. In the gap, there is nothing. Going deeper into meditation we see the great void. Nothingness. No space, no time. In this gap, you realize, you are not who you thought you were. In this gap, there is peace. In this gap, there is only union.

To get there the first time, the ego will try to scare us into coming back. There is no way to get past that scare other than manual labor. You sit, sit, sit, whether you like it or not, and then, you know when you have reached past the ego when there is no longer a need to get up. You have no desire to get up and be active. You have no desires, period, and there is no memory of the past, nor a hope for the future. There is only now and you experience it. You are at one with the here and now, and with everything and everyone around you in this phenomenal world.

Sooner or later we have to go this route. There is no other way. We can do all kinds of self improvement techniques to bypass it, but those are simply sidetracks. We can prolong this sidetrack as long as we like. We can even go back to the point where we want to undo everything.

I remember this quote while Cypher was talking to Agent Smith in "The Matrix". He said "You know what I realized after nine years? Ignorance is bliss." It is true in the sense that with ignorance there is nothing to do. You feel no obligation to anyone. Except when we choose this route, we will always be in bondage, and we can repeat this process again and again, until we choose to work on it.

It is freedom that we seek. Freedom from the tyranny of the ego which allows us to justify all the things that we do to protect this assumed boundary between ourselves and others. If we knew how deeply intertwined we are to each other we would not even think of harming another.

There will be no wars, no crimes committed. There will be peace.

But because there are as many desires in this world as there are humans, the world will go on as it does. We will have the same history, only the scenes change, that is if we don't annihilate each totally.

One person asked me why the Dalai Lama does not rally all the leaders in the world so that the Chinese government will give back Tibet. The answer is that he can not and will not interfere, by choice. His silence, the cultivation of peace within himself is a far greater contribution to humanity. This is not so easy to accept, but it is so.

To cultivate awareness, we have to do it moment to moment. Simply be aware of your breath. It is what connects us to everyone and everything. Then you can ask yourself these things:

"Who am I?"

"What am I here for?"

Your first task is to remember who you are.

© 2010 by Melinda M. Sorensson

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    • RevLady profile image

      RevLady 7 years ago from Lantana, Florida

      A very interesting read. I agree and particularly liked the way you put this:

      " If we knew how deeply intertwined we are to each other we would not even think of harming another.

      There will be no wars, no crimes committed. There will be peace.

      We do not seem to value each other regardless of this truth. Therefore, there will be wars, crimes and no peace, at least not in the sense here referenced.

      Very thought provoking. Thank you!

      Forever His,

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for a fascinating hub, that I personally, find very useful. I keep trying to learn the art of living in the present, but clearly I am still a work in progress.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thank you, Revlady for coming and leaving a comment.

      It is an ideal situation. All the rules in religions that make us aware of the others bring us to the fact that at the deepest level we are all connected to each other so when we harm another we can not help but harm ourselves as well.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thank you breakfastpop for coming by and leaving a comment.

      It is the challenge of everyone. To live in the present moment means to simply be. The ego fights this because it wants us trapped in our past to keep us safe. It takes practice and hard work but sooner or later we will get there.

      One of the exercises that you might find useful is what happens when you count for as long as you can. Sooner or later you will find a gap. Or "watch the wind"

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thank you Scott for dropping by. Yes. There is no better place.

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      terrific work thanks

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thank you, thevoice. Much appreciated!!

    • thooghun profile image

      James D. Preston 7 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Great Hub msorensson, the older I get the more I become conscious of the fact that I've been asking the wrong questions. A modern philosopher I like (Alan Watts) once said that if you ask the question "What is my purpose in life" you are bound to run into problems. But by expanding and asking "What is OUR purpose in life" (with reference to nature) the process is suddenly far easier to digest.

    • msorensson profile image
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      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thoogun, I just wrote this to a friend this morning:

      Out purpose in life is to be happy and grateful we are alive. That is it!! Everything else is extra!!

      Thank you for coming by!!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      This is a beautiful Hub, my dear. You are a person filled with a sweet nectar. Thank you for being you.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 7 years ago

      Thank you, James!! Much appreciated.

    • kowality profile image

      kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

      That video put me to sleep M. I'm not kidding. Thank You. I have trouble sleeping. I really appreciate your kindness.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      That is wonderful!!

      I sent it to one of my friends who has trouble falling asleep.

      Thank you for sharing that!!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hiya, thank you for this, and the video, it was so peaceful. i have learned to listen just before I go to sleep, to hear the inner voice, and if I have a problem, I ask my subconcious mind, and wait for the answer. I am always trying to be aware of what is going on at any moment, and I often watch other people on 'automatic' and think, why is everyone always so programmed? why do they not think outside of the box, it reminds me of the film, the Stepford Wives, when instead of Being, they are just acting like robots, without any other thought. thanks again nell

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Hi, Nell,

      Wow, few people do what you do. Be aware in every moment!

      It is easier to live a programmed life. No challenges.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. I am glad you like the video.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      You are a wise soul ms girl. Freedom from the tyranny of the ego - wow. I can reflect on that one all day. Your thoughts on the Dalai Lama, his wisdom and choice regarding non interference is worth repeating. Rated up.

    • msorensson profile image
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      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Green Lotus!! Much appreciated. !!

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      Well written, Melinda! I sense a peace in your writing. Serenity:)

    • msorensson profile image
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      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, tim-tim :-)

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 6 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      this is an awesome statement " From this illusion of separation from the rest, I, me, mine arise. Some people are happy with what they have.They live their lives instinctively in this world without the need to dominate others. " these thoughts go deeper than words.......be well

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, loveofnight for dropping by and leaving a comment.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      "Most of the time we are simply doing our habits." How true this is. This is an excellent read, Melinda. Thank you very much.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Tony!

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      I love reading this. Many thanks form a fellow Filipino-in-spirit :-)

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      In fact one of my dearest friends is half English half Greek.

      He prefers to be identified with his Greek heritage, having been boarded and educated in Istanbul until he went to Dartmouth.

      He even tries to teach me some Greek and sends me cards in Greek.

      I would love to go to Greece sometime, but please if you go to the Philippines, ask someone where to go first.

      Thank you for dropping by.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      Achieving true awareness is one of my goals in life - thanks Melinda

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      One grandmother asked Buddha how she can be realized in her lifetime. She said she is too old to learn how to meditate.

      The Buddha then answered when we pay attention to whatever it is that we are doing, with whole heart, mind and body, then we are in the process of meditation. Formal sitting is one of them.

      As it is my nature to be really active..I was unable to sit through a one hour movie...I needed to move, then the discipline required was to sit, sit, sit, until there is no longer a desire to get up.

      In the beginning, it would take 10 hours of trying..consecutively..hour after hour..the body fights and fights and fights..[smiles]

      Tame the body, rule the mind [smiles]

      Then it became easier and easier...

      Let me know if I can help.

      Thanks for dropping by, Billy.

    • Sage Williams profile image

      Sage Williams 6 years ago

      A beautifully written hub. I love awareness, in fact I am in the middle of writing a section in the middle of one of my hubs on cultivating awareness. You did an amazing job on this hub. It is so very well written.

      Rated up!

      Sage

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Sage :-)

    • MM Del Rosario profile image

      MM Del Rosario 6 years ago from NSW, Australia

      I enjoy reading this hub and thank you very much for sharing

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, MM :-)

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 6 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      real meditation is being aware that we are servants of God, in each and every task all day.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you vrajavala :-)

    • Ashmi profile image

      Ashmi 6 years ago from Somewhere out there

      Great hub!! An excellent description of what is an illusive subject.

      In the quest to keep still and silent it helps to know the difference between thought and awareness. Awareness becomes a thought as soon as contact is made with "something". The pure feeling of being in the Now is lost the moment the mind becomes conscious of sense objects and clings to them. Know that as soon as you name or define a "thing" you are no longer in the now but have gone into the past.

      I agree with you totally. In order to liberate ourselves from temporal conditioning we must direct our gaze within. All other practices may help to prepare the mind but only by turning our attention around and being aware of Consciousness itself can we free ourselves from illusory bondage.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Ashmi.

      It is so easy to go back to a habitual pattern of thinking and acting and this is where we have to be more vigilant.

      Thanks for dropping by!!

    • Missi Darnell profile image

      Missi Darnell 6 years ago from Southern California

      I loved this hub, beautifully written and the end paragraph truly had me thinking. Who am I? I've been one person for so long and now that that part of my life is gone, I'm not sure anymore.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Hi,Missi,

      Thank you for stopping by.

      That is perfectly fine. We begin where we are and then go from there.

      Life can be hot, cold, beautiful, painful. We take it like whiskey or cognac, straight, not on the rocks. When we experience everything as it is, without diluting it with our filters, we see a tremendous space. In that space is the freedom we all seek.

      Much love,

      Melinda

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 6 years ago

      Msorensson, Very thought provoking and insighful! "From this illusion of separation from the rest, I, me, mine arise. Some people are happy with what they have. They live their lives instinctively in this world without the need to dominate others." This is quite true and quite profound! Here lies the path to inner PEACE!

      Thank you for sharing, In His love, Peace & Blessings!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, DeBorrah,

      Much appreciated.!!

      Blessings!!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      Great How To Cultivate Awareness Hub, We are creatures of habit and yet where do those habits originate from. LOVE this Hub it's a Rate Up and Must Read! Thanks and Peace :)

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, katiem2 :-)

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrea 6 years ago from Italy

      Very interesting hub, and as you rightly said awareness is a must, also because the here and now is the only thing that we can control, or influence. The past is passed, and the future is yet to come. Wonderful how you summarized everything with breathing, and pretty correct. :)

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, hypnodude. I have been reading The Book of Truth by Geoffrey C. Filbert.

      Have you heard of him? He was a Church of Scientology member.

      The book is fantastic.

      When I shared the link to others, some of them immediately told me they would not touch it.

      In it awareness as a dynamic encompasses truth. I agree with him.

      Thank you for dropping by.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      I'm living in the moment Msorensson.

      I will remember who I am. Thank you!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Great Micky. Thanks for dropping by!!

    • Dr irum profile image

      Dr irum 6 years ago

      Its very knowledgeful hub , nice reading .Thanks

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Dr. Irum for dropping by.

    • profile image

      cosette 6 years ago

      :)

      it's a shame that we all become so preoccupied by habits and day-to-day living that we are for the most part unaware of things that are truly important. thanks for the gentle reminder. very nice!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you cossette. I appreciate !!

      It is not entirely our fault. I have to run but will email you later.

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      I came back to read this great hub Melinda - being aware means staying to stay the course to that journey. Your hub is a great reminder :)

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Billy!!

    • kowality profile image

      kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

      This is a very good topic to write about. So many of us are unaware of our surroundings and the everyday miracles that happen. This hub has so many great tips and insights. TY Melinda.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Yes, kowality. We are often so shortsighted..but to make good decisions we have to pay attention to the whole picture.

      Thank you for dropping by!!

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      As always, you provide "food for thought." Your insights and perspectives are appreciated. As one who is very tough on himself (demanding): I chose giving everything away to better understand myself. I had to do it twice. I was born very poor and made more money than I ever thought I would. Yet, I was not "happy." I wanted more. Therefor, I started over. I do not recommend this to anyone else. I was hearing, "You have changed. Having money has made you different. You talk different." I wanted to know if "things" had changed me. I demanded to know "who I am." Without my awareness of who I am/was, how could I expect to build, improve who I am? I recall the first time I became a "millionaire" thinking, "Is this all there is?" I questioned why am I here? What is my purpose in life? I retired the first time at a young age of 35. It was a difficult, soul-searching time. I had lots to learn about me.... My "awareness" is a process. Great hub!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you Dallas.

      How interesting that I was thinking that just a few moments ago. What price knowing the self? Nothing. It is priceless.

    • suny51 profile image

      suny51 6 years ago

      msorensson-there are so many good things in your article and all are worth following,the world would be lot better,but I have one thing in particular that has been bugging me the whole day long today and that was regarding the 'ego' of the man that shows up more like jealousy rather than any thing else,why dont we see the sunny side of the things why we simply look at the ugly lot at all,if only we leave the factor thats called 'superiority complex'; and take things on a little bit more on equal terms this world would change, half of the problems would be gone, the world is a playground. you know that when you are a kid but somewhere along the way, everyone forgets it.A little too much from a small mouth.see you.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Wow..what a great insight, suny. I was thinking that in terms of peace. If we can all be quiet internally for one whole week...the world will be a whole different one.

      Jealousy, anger, greed, envy..those are part of human characteristics that we are programmed with which springs from the illusion of separation.

      The fact is that we need each other, we need to live in harmony with each other..

      Thank you for dropping by.

    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

      Wow, this is soooo good. I have been attempting to explain to a friend how she is just moving through life unconsciously aware of what is going on around her. I'm bookmarking this hub to share with her. Thanks you and thumbs up!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Money Glitch :-)

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen 6 years ago from Florida

      Very pertinent and powerful stuff. Thank you!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you brightforyou.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      "Who am I?" is not such a tough question ... on the other hand though, "What am I here for?" is quite the dilemma ...

      Cheers!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you Mr. Happy :-)

      Yes, it is. The answer will come when you are ready.

    • profile image

      soumyasrajan 6 years ago from Mumbai India and often in USA

      Very nice and well written article msorensson! Surely any one will get a drive to become aware reading it. As you say self-awareness is indeed all one needs to have internal as well as external peace.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you soumyasrajan. Yes,I hope it is useful to some and yes, peace begins within.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      A wonderful and inspiring hub which I have forwarded to friends and family. I have bookmarked this to re-read often. You have a gift - I am such a fan and admirer. Thank you for your caring and loving heart. You took so much time recently to respond to a comment that I had left for you on a previous hub that you wrote. What an angel you are and I feel so honored to connect with you on HP. Thank you with all my heart.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Dearest vocalcoach, thank you!! I hug you from afar. You have me if you need me. Much love, always, Melinda

    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 6 years ago

      Great subject and something which I strongly think we ought to teach more of in school - the ability to sharpen our awareness of who we are and what is all around us.

      In the modern world now, people are more often on auto-pilot and not really aware of what's happening around them. They need to awaken their senses and begin to really use them - Really open their eyes and see rather than look and really listen than just hear.

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful thought-provoking hub.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, richtwf. I think schooling has a lot to do with this autopilot mechanism.

      Children are naturally aware. I can remember trying to tighten a screw in one of the gates of our backyard fence.

      My son was seven years old. He was looking at me and said "Mom, you are turning the screw the wrong way." I am an Engineer...I pondered at what he said and thought, "Oh my God, he is right."

      I was looking at the spring the wrong way...the automatic way...

      Thanks for dropping by. Much appreciated.

    • meteoboy profile image

      meteoboy 6 years ago from GREECE

      Very interesting and useful hub msorensson.Thank you for sharing with us.Best Regards.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you Meteoboy for stopping by leaving your comment. Much appreciated.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      Living in the moment my Dear! God bless!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, Micky!! At the moment I am doing my best to finish my book...I accepted a challenge.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

      Another deep one to ponder. You have given me an idea for an article, as well. Thanks so much!

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 6 years ago

      Thank you, RedElf. I very much appreciate your visit and comment.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the Nice well written hub

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 5 years ago

      Thank you htodd!!

    • DynamicS profile image

      Sandria Green-Stewart 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      msorensson, thanks for the reminder on how to attain awareness. So often we get too busy and distracted from our main purpose - to be in the present.

      This is a God-sent reminder.

      Thanks

    • tebo profile image

      tebo 5 years ago from New Zealand

      This is a great hub to clearly state how to keep ourselves present. I must remember the breathing idea because it does work, but I forget about it when I am meditating. Thanks for the reminder.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 5 years ago

      Thank you Tebo. Much appreciated.

    • Brett Winn profile image

      Brett Winn 5 years ago from US

      Lovely!!! May I follow you?

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 5 years ago

      I am honored. Thank you.

    • Jynzly profile image

      Jenny Pugh 5 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

      Your hubs are ultimate truths and soul-searching. I love them. The following statement is the basis of what I had been teaching high school in Values Education...I love your philosophical foundation; "To cultivate awareness, we have to do it moment to moment. Simply be aware of your breath. It is what connects us to everyone and everything. Then you can ask yourself these things:

      "Who am I?"

      "What am I here for?"

      Your first task is to remember who you are."

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 5 years ago

      Thank you, Jynzly, I appreciate your reading and leaving your comment. It is said that a Samurai lives and dies with every breath, thus he becomes fearless. The fearless die a thousand deaths, the others only once.

      When we are aware of the breath, then we are aware of everything.

    • Jynzly profile image

      Jenny Pugh 5 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

      Excellent...I love that. You're such a wonderful person...very rare these days.

    • msorensson profile image
      Author

      msorensson 5 years ago

      Thank you, Jynzly...

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