DEMYSTIFYING YOGA: WHAT IS AWAKENING?
In the modern Yoga, the term awakening is often misunderstood as an esoteric and mystical idea that only a select few can experience. And if you haven’t gone through a spiritual awakening, you will most likely regard it as a complete myth. A spiritual vocabulary to lure students or convince students of something bigger than what it truly is. The questionability behind the idea of awakening stems from the lack of knowledge and the airy fairy language from those that speak on its topic – yes, yoga teachers we are at fault here. But what if I tell you that we all have the innate capacity of awakening? Right now, as you read this, you have the seed of awakening within you that is ready to ripen into fruition. What if to awaken wasn’t an experience, but a paradigm shift. A new view to life that reconfigures the way that you experience everything around you. What if to awaken means to wake up to your true essence nature of who you really are. The you beyond mental constructs, beyond beliefs, beyond identities, and beyond the facades that we carry in our day-to-day lives.
Society lives in two states: the dream state and the waking state. Everyday the majority of society is awake in literal sense, yet completely and utterly asleep at the same time. Awake to the programming of their conditioned beliefs, yet asleep to the possibility of expanding our awareness of what is. We have become a slave to the identities and beliefs that we carry since the day that we’ve been born into this world; thinking, speaking, acting from a place of conditioned programming from our upbringings and belief system. To be awake is recognise the long held belief system engrained in us and to let it go to come closer to the truth of our being. History can prove the devastation that arises from the ignorance of our belief system. We have the graveyards and memorials to prove it.
To awaken is to wake up to our own ignorance.
“Awakening entails losing something—specifically, your deeply conditioned beliefs about who you are and what the world is—and gaining nothing.” – Christopher “Hareesh” Wallis
Awakening can happen in various stages. Here I have listed down 2 identifiable stages as expressed by my teacher Hareesh Wallis.
1. Waking up to the social constructed self. That means waking up out of the belief that your thoughts, memories, self-images, or ‘stories’ define who you fundamentally are. Our beliefs are mental constructs that create an imagined order for us to structure and organise our lives on the superficial level. But on the most fundamental level that are invalid. To awaken is to recognise that we are experiential beings not conceptual ones. You are something far beyond your identities and beliefs.
“How do you cause people to believe in an imagined order such as Christianity, democracy or capitalism? First, you never admit that the order is imagined.” ―
2. Waking up out of the dream of separation. To shed the belief that there is something separate from you and other. This stage is often glorified as “we are all One”. Which is quite airy-fairy, isn’t it? What this is speaking to is the possibility of recognising that there is nothing separate between us on a fundamental level. What creates separation are the beliefs and constructs one might carry. To wake up out of the dream of separation is to see things as they truly are without conditions or filters.
So you can choose to live your life in two ways: in the dream state or waking state. You can choose to live your life as a slave to your identities and beliefs, living each day as if you’re being programmed by something or someone. Or as a conscious agent aware of the conditioned thought patterns that arise and being able to choose to accept or reject it. There is nothing more empowering than being able to recognise the rooted mental constructs that were once so deeply attached to your identity and to finally break free with the knowing that you are still the exact same You that you always were, just more free from mental suffering. Now you know the secret as to why yogi’s can find innate joy in any situation that arises. So take the first step. Step into the awareness of your everyday thoughts, actions, and words. Notice where your response is coming from. Is it coming from an impulse rooted in conditions? Simply to step into this question of awareness is the first step into becoming more awake.