We are each other’s teachers. I mean, on a good day I remember that anyway.
I have this friend who can be amazing. She has moments that are so gentle and quiet and rich with wisdom that they take my breath away. In those moments, I often have the sense that this is the “real” her. I almost burst with the urge to blurt, “Oh, there you are! More like this please!” And then the moment passes and, let’s just simplify it to say that what we return to is - at best - a low grade toxicity with volcanic tendencies that everyone in her orbit tiptoes around. Not ideal. But there are those moments.
Which got me thinking about consciousness. Consciousness has become quite a buzzword these days, particularly in self-improvement and healthy living contexts. Like the word authenticity a few years back, I think the meaning and import of the word consciousness has been lost or at least diminished in the ubiquity of its use. So, what does it mean? Forget Webster’s for the moment, in my experience consciousness boils down to awareness and awareness boils down to simply noticing. That’s it. Noticing. Literally directing my attention to something in my world. This is where the rubber meets the road and my/your point of power kicks in. When I am directing my attention to something in my world, I am also empowered to set a new intention or strengthen and build upon an existing intention. This is how consciousness plays out and offers a more grounded and empowered experience of my world. With practice. Always with practice. Preferably of the gentle variety.
So, back to my friend. Here’s how I’ve come to think of those moments of hers. What if you came over to my place every so often and each time you did I had a beautiful, lush, healthy plant on my table? You could be forgiven for assuming that I must love and be very good with plants. You might even begin behaving with me accordingly, making assumptions about me as a person in light of my obvious love of plants and green thumb.
But what if, in fact, I’m totally unconscious about plants? I just go and buy one because they’re pretty and I like the way they make me feel for a bit until they wither and die and I buy a new one. I’m completely unaware - unconscious - of the fact that I can water and feed and grow my plant. I don’t realize that it can become a feature of my life and not just a fading prop.
This is my friend’s story - and mine. Too often we unconsciously stumble upon the very things that bring us joy, that feed some longed for part of us, or just a change or shift we’d like to see in our lives. In this case, the joy of a simple plant. Approached unconsciously, we likely miss it or, worse, sabotage it. However, when I bring the gift of consciousness - again, just being aware and noticing how something in my world makes me and my world feel - I can set the intention to feed it. I can go about the process of learning how to keep the “plant” alive and thriving. Or if it’s a negative experience, I can begin to eliminate it from my life.
All just with slowing down enough to notice. All with practice. Gentle practice. And if you’re wondering how to develop a higher state of behaving with consciousness, start with looking at when you feel most relaxed and centered. When do you feel the greatest lift or sense of peaceful joy? Do that or simply dial up the memory and review how it feels in your breathing, posture, the way you talk, think, walk. Practice doing more of that in areas outside of that bliss-space. Bring a dash of the blissed out you to the bored and frustrated you. Just a bit. Just enough to slow you down. Just enough to notice, to be juuuussst a bit more conscious. That’ll do.
Oh, and breathe. Breathe deep whenever the thought occurs to do so.
Beginning by beginning. Now go water your beautiful plant. Consciously.
Be good to you.