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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Expanded consciousness exercise


The most common theme among all world religions and spiritual teachings is the core belief in Oneness or Unity Consciousness. Every religion brings this teaching out in various ways but the belief is there beneath the dogma of the particular religion. This awareness of Oneness is what I’ve been using as the framework for the information that I’ve been sharing with you in this blog. It is also something that I’ve been working to manifest in my own personal life, not just as a concept but as a reality that I’m consciously choosing to orient my life around.

The biggest challenge that any of us face when we choose to focus on our Oneness with that which created us is overcoming our sense of separation. From the moment we leave the womb and the umbilical cord is cut, our lives begin to organize around a sense of separation. That one quick snip by a doctor which separates us from our mother is the moment where we first experience our individuality and uniqueness. In essence it is the very first lesson we receive and so it should come as no surprise that our world is built around the belief that we are all separate.

So how is it then that we can be disconnected and yet still ultimately all be connected? The answer to that question has everything to do with where our consciousness is and how aware we are of it. Since our consciousness is not physical and therefore not fixed in one place, it can move from place to place and level to level in an instant. To help understand this a bit more easily, it may help to also think of your consciousness as your awareness or point of focus.


INTERNAL AWARENESS OF AWARENESS

Let’s do a little exercise here to help you become a bit more familiar with shifting your consciousness around. The first step is to get familiar with how it feels when you move your consciousness around within you. Before engaging this process, it’s best to make sure that you have your “Basics” in place first. It’s always a good idea to have your Basics in place in every moment but until you can hold that as a constant state, reminders like this can be helpful. It’s also a good idea to turn off any external distracters like televisions or radios. The quieter your space is the easier this exercise will be. Spend some time with this first part and really get a feel for the movement of your awareness before you engage the second part. If you can focus inward enough, you will actually be able to feel your awareness move. The key in this first part is really observing how it feels when your awareness holds in one spot and moves.

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair in an upright position. Ideally the chair should have arm rests. This exercise can also be done by lying on the floor and pointing your fingers toward the ceiling. 
  2. Spread your legs comfortably wide and rest your elbows on the arms of the chair with your hands raised pointing up and index finger extended on each hand pointing out and away from your body so that you would have to turn your head from side to side to easily see each finger. 
  3. Turn your head and shift your eyes to the index finger on your left hand and put your full focus on the tip of that one finger for at least 10 seconds.
  4. Observe how it feels inside your finger when you hold this focus. Notice the sensations in the finger for a few moments and then notice how it feels in your head and body to hold your awareness on this one point.
  5. Turn your head and shift your gaze to the index finger on your right hand and hold it there for at least 10 seconds noticing how it feels during the shift from the left finger and the moments after the shift and beyond.
  6. Slowly shift back and forth a few times between these fingers to get familiar with the feel of your consciousness shifting between these two visible locations within your body. Really focus and observe what you feel in the finger as you move to it and away from it.
  7. Hold your full awareness on the left hand index finger and let your awareness gather there for 10 seconds then just very lightly, without turning your head to look or putting too much focus there, observe how the index finger on your right hand feels when your awareness is still fully on the left. It’s very easy to split  your focus with the right hand while doing this so really fix your gaze and hold your attention firmly on the left hand. Just use the tiniest amount of awareness to notice how it feels in the right finger without your full awareness on it. Yes, it is tricky but possible and may require practice to get it.
  8. Experiment with this a bit until you get a good feel for it and then while still gazing at the left hand, without turning your head to look, send your full awareness (minus the visual focus) to your right index finger. This one can also be a little tricky so play with it a bit until you can feel your focus settle in on the right hand while still gazing at the left hand. Notice how that feels in each finger.
  9. Experiment with rocking your awareness slowly back and forth between the fingers while holding your gaze on only one of them. Repeat this until you can almost feel your consciousness shifting within your body. Once you have that felt sense of the shift within your body, you’re ready to continue.
  10. While holding your gaze on the left index finger, shift your awareness to the right finger, then down to the right big toe. When you feel the shift down to your toe then go to the left big toe. (Picking a specific toe or finger like this helps to narrow the focus more fully and makes it easier to feel.) When you feel that shift then come back to the left finger where your visual focus is.
  11. Slowly repeat that loop from finger to finger to toe to toe to finger several times until you can easily observe your consciousness shifting within your body.

EXPANDED AWARENESS

The first part of the exercise should give you a palpable feel for your focused awareness and the energy that it has. When you have that then you’re ready to proceed with shifting your awareness beyond your body. Take some time with this part and really notice how you feel after each step, not just at the beginning and then the end. Notice your thoughts (but don’t get caught in them), sensations in your body, shift in mood or emotions, whatever happens for you, just observe it and gather the data.

It might be easier to do the second part with a friend reading the instructions to you rather than trying to remember it all or read it step by step. You may also want to record yourself reading these notes (with long pauses between steps) and play that back when you’re ready to engage the exercise.
  1. Close your eyes and repeat the finger-finger-toe-toe-finger loop a couple of times to notice how it feels when you shift it with no visual focus.
  2. Once you have a feel for your consciousness shifting around to these points then play with moving it around to various points within your body allowing time at each point for your awareness to gather at that point before moving on. Think of the point first and then move your awareness to it. Joints and points are the easiest places to select because they are more specific spots (i.e. hip, knee, tip of the nose) than surface areas (chest, thigh, back).
  3. When you have a feel for that internal movement from point to point then relax your arms down and let your hands rest and draw your legs in so that you can sit or lie comfortably for the next part.
  4. With your eyes closed, bring your awareness to your nostrils and just observe the breath moving in and out for a few cycles. Feel the coolness of the inhale and warmth of the exhale. If you can’t immediately feel the difference in the temperature of the air, hold on this step until you can.
  5. Now slowly allow your awareness to spread out to include your whole head, down your neck, through your chest and down the arms, down the torso into the pelvis, over the glutes and abdomen then down your legs. Don’t focus on any one spot during this process but rather feel like your awareness is growing from the tip of your nose to include your whole body but do it slowly piece by piece this way. Each place you expand to include is added to what you already have and is not the center of your focus. Remember to hold on to the awareness of the whole as it expands and not just focus on the next point or level.
  6. When you have added all parts of your body, spend a few moments here observing how it feels to notice ALL of your body from the inside. Notice any tingling or pulsing which arises within your body and really gather the data on how this feels in your body. This is different from any thoughts you might be having on doing this exercise or mental distractions which may arise. Try to let those thoughts go for now and just notice the feeling of this expanded consciousness.
  7. When you have gathered the data on “the self” now allow your thoughts to also include any other members in your immediate household one by one. This is human, animals and plants…any living beings within your home. Just lightly call in thoughts of each of them without losing your focus on you.
  8. Now expand your thoughts to include only your immediate family one level out which is mom, dad, children, brothers and sisters. The family members referenced here can be living or dead. This exercise is about expanding your consciousness only and not about connecting with these individuals so just any visual or feeling you have for each one is all that is necessary to feel like you’re including them in your consciousness.
  9. Now continue expanding to include the next family level…grandparents and grandchildren. Think for a brief moment about each one as you bring them into your consciousness. Don’t make this too heavy or sharp of a focus but more their name and maybe flash upon their face. It’s almost like what you would do if I said “tell me the names of each of these people” but this is all done internally.
  10. Now begin including your entire extended family including in-laws and any distant relatives that come to mind. Don’t get caught up in trying to make sure that you get every single one but feel for what it’s like to bring them in one by one and still hold the awareness of the group you already have.
  11. Now include friends…again one by one, just lightly allowing your consciousness to expand to hold them.
  12. Next include immediate co-workers, associates, old friends, past relationships…anyone that you have physically met and related to in the past. Really get a feel for anyone that comes to mind during this process no matter what emotional history you have with them but again don’t focus on them or your history with them, just their name and a maybe an image of their face and then move on.
  13. Notice any challenges that come with this process but don’t let that stop you. The more people you include in this exercise the more challenging it will become of course but that is part of the experience we’re seeking here. Once you have all your direct relations done, just lightly scan across them and notice how it feels within your body to hold your focus on you AND them. The important part is to not lose awareness of you in the process.
  14. Now shift to thinking about places rather than people but still holding on to the thoughts of the people you’ve pulled in. Imagine that they are all right there with  you and think about the place where you live and begin slowly expanding from there to the whole building (if you live in apartments or condo’s), then on to your neighborhood, then city, state, region, country, continent, hemisphere and finally to the entire planet. Take your time and focus fully on an image of this expanded upward movement at each level and notice how challenging it becomes to still hold on to the awareness of yourself and all those you gathered at the individual level. It’s almost like you were using Google Earth and slowly zooming out to go up and away from the planet.
  15. Feel like you are holding all of the people, animals and plants around the entire planet in your consciousness. Gather the data on how this feels to have your awareness be this so expanded as to include the entire planet. Really spend a few moments gathering the data for how this feels and how taxing it might be on you or how easy it feels.
  16. When you really have this feeling noted, quickly let it all go and bring your focus back to your nose. Notice the feeling of your consciousness collapsing back to this single point.
  17. Experiment with stepping your awareness back out to the planet level and then back to your nose a few times to really gather the data on how it feels to be connected to the whole and how challenging that can be and then how it feels to bring your consciousness back to a single point. Take more time with the expansion, hold when you’re there, notice the feelings/sensations/emotions and then do a quick collapse to the nose. This enables you easily compare between fully expanded and totally collapsed. Going from the nose to the Earth quickly doesn’t get you the same feeling nor have the same effect as stepping through the upward stages with more awareness.
  18. When you feel done, release the thoughts of your relations and perhaps send a thank you with them for helping you and then get your Basics back in place as the energy of this can really overload your system.

EXPERIENCE VS. THOUGHTS

Once you actually engage the exercise above rather than just reading the words and thinking about it, you’ll have an idea of what expanded consciousness feels like. When you can begin to feel and know (not just think) that you are a part of something much bigger, your consciousness will expand to hold that. When you make your decisions from that expanded place, the decisions you make will change because of your expanded consciousness. Holding your conscious awareness at a level beyond the self initially takes a lot of effort, much more than just an awareness exercise requires, because that effort is where the work is. It is how we consciously evolve our consciousness. It is why I invest my time in creating this blog so that you can hopefully be inspired to do that work.
The important part is to work at the place where you are and grow from there. If your day-to-day minute-to-minute decisions are only based upon you and your immediate survival needs, trying to jump to planetary consciousness won’t work. When you can begin to offer and accept unconditional love towards just yourself and then expand that unconditional love to just one other being and then continue that expansion outward, things will begin to shift for you. If you find yourself saying “how can I unconditionally love that person (criminal/molester/ex-lover/fanatic/etc)” then you know you’re not ready for that level yet. The important part is first learning to unconditionally love and accept yourself NO MATTER WHAT. Acceptance, forgiveness and love are choices and they are yours to freely make. Nothing concrete stands in your way, only your thoughts and beliefs.


YOU ARE NEVER ALONE…EVER!

Remember there will be times when you feel that you are totally alone or like it’s you against the world but that’s never true. You are always connected to the whole of humanity and thus the planet simply because you exist. Any belief to the contrary is just a false sense of separation that has been handed down to you either consciously or unconsciously by those who came before. In every moment the choice is yours to feel disconnected and alone or connected and whole but either way you are always connected. The only difference is your thoughts and beliefs.


Will you choose to feel alone or will you choose to feel connected?