Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Awakening Consciousness

Over the past decade as things have sped up, we as a culture have slowly begun to pause and become more aware. We now are taking our health and diet more seriously along with its related impact on our environment. We’re beginning to realize how very interdependent our place is in the world. And we’re starting to see what the great spiritual traditions have known for ages: in order for the outer world to change, our inner world must change first. We are in the long-awaited transition of consciousness in the West, as it’s been going on in the East for many, many centuries. But just what does it mean to awaken consciousness; i.e. what are we awakening from and where are we headed?

When we speak about consciousness, we usually mean the level of awareness we have at any given time, both personally and as a culture. And as one changes at the micro level, so does the macro level reflect that same change, too. In our own history, it was only 150 years ago that it was permissible to own slaves and only 50 years ago that that same freedom movement finally began to inspire and then demand racial equality across the land. And of course even a decade ago the idea of an African-American president was unthinkable; i.e. it did not exist in our collective consciousness as even a remote possibility. We’ve expanded our consciousness as a society. It had to first be realized and expressed individually from within so as to then expand to build the critical mass necessary for real change—and it continues to grow and accelerate today.

Spiritually though, raising consciousness means to expand beyond one’s usual, habitual thought system into something more all-encompassing, less exclusive and more global. It means to recognize that there is truly something a lot bigger than all of us, of which we’re all a part. By connecting to that Oneness, we can feel less alone, more connected to each other and experience a kind of peace that exists without the Egoic thoughts of “me, mine, win/lose” and its concomitant anxiety of separation. This transcendent way of thinking exists not only in ancient Eastern thought but also in the great American tradition of transcendentalists which include Emerson, James, Whitman, and Thoreau. Each of these author philosophers spoke of our being connected as integral parts of the tapestry of life, dependent on each other for our very existence as well as each being necessary to share in the expression of the beauty of what it means to be uniquely human.

We are now in a process of awakening from a slumber of unconsciousness, from the social malaise where we as a culture, having been seduced by the instant gratification of our senses, are now addicted to the immediate but short-lived joys of conspicuous consumption. What’s been lost is the love, respect and caring for each other while the Greed is Good of the 80’s has literally overtaken our moral sense and fiscal sensibilities. Where we must start to awaken is within our own thoughts and minds in order to become Self-conscious instead of self-centered. This means moving beyond current social consciousness into an expanded consciousness of the experience of Love, Peace and Wholeness. We can learn to step out of our old habitual ways of thinking, which feel safe and comfortable, but also leave us feeling unsatisfied, unfulfilled and constantly in some low level of anxiety or dread. So how do we raise our level of consciousness and what is that experience like?

First you start with being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and desires. By taking the time to go within and tune into what you’re really experiencing you’re able to move out of the usual overdrive into a more neutral state of awareness. If you find that your thoughts are usually focused on fulfilling your solipsistic needs, you might try to stop and direct your attention to those around you and notice how you might serve your immediate environment. Look to see who could use something as simple as smile or a kind word or help with a task and how you might also serve in a greater way by volunteering your time and energies. And in so doing try to notice how differently you begin to feel within yourself, how giving can offer great personal reward as we in fact are really giving to Ourselves. Here you’ll have the experience of positively impacting the world, your world, by starting small and expanding outward. And finally we’ll see in this process that our thoughts are tangible things that have positive or negative energy capable of creating both for good and for ill as well as the power to manifest either our desires or our fears.

Any effective psychotherapy or authentic spiritual practice can help to break through this “unconscious” default pattern of continuing to do what’s always been done despite the limiting or negative consequences, and offer new ways of thinking, being and ultimately loving. Your own intra-psychic transformation will create the kind of interpersonal change that can shift consciousness enough to begin to create a brave new world of the Spiritual Warrior, able to actualize our vast human potential simply by recognizing and affirming our oneness, our sameness, our greatness. Now is the time to really Imagine…it’s the time to Awaken into Consciousness.

Michael Mongno MFT, Ph.D, LP is a licensed psychoanalyst, relationship counselor and holistic practitioner in Manhattan. He is the founder of Present Centered Therapies which synthesizes Gestalt and Cognitive Behavioral therapies, Eastern spirituality, as well as Imago and Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. He brings a wealth of successful experience with a wide range of couples issues as well as down-to-earth wisdom and modern sensibility to what it takes to create healthy, loving, and empowered relationships.

Please visit or call (212) 799-0001 for more information.

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