Being Aware and Present

by bryan maynard

reflective sitting on beach wallLearning to be aware of our experience as the path to becoming our True Nature will bring us directly into contact with all the messages and beliefs and attitudes that are the basis for who we have become up to this point in our lives. This is why the work of learning to be aware of our experience and fully present to it requires much patience and kindness along with trained skill.

Awareness is a Skill

We do the deeper work of learning to be our True selves by learning the skill of awareness. I have recently written that awareness of our experience will lead us closer to our real self, but the unfolding revelation of our True Nature is often a “gut-check” process because we are peeling away false layers from true layers. Sometimes, for example, we are peeling away layers of our emotional reality from our True Nature, a powerful revelatory experience when it happens, but one that must happen over and over, again and again, for True Nature to be separated from the layers of history that obscure the truth. For this reason it is helpful to always come back to the basic skill of being aware and present as this will keep ‘finding us’ when we become lost, or discouraged, or distracted in our work of becoming peaceful and whole.

Both Awareness and Presence Needed

For me, it helps to think of awareness and presence together: being aware means I am being present with a certain quality of fullness. This helps because sometimes I ‘go through the motions’ of noticing something about my experience, but I am distant and detached, without much quality to my presence.

Perhaps the words from A. H. Almaas might shed a little light on what I am saying:

The revelation of our True Nature is a process…Thus our practice is to just be aware of and present with whatever is arising, to let it be and not do anything to it except allow our natural curiosity to unfold it, and reveal what it is about…As you notice, I didn’t only say, “Be aware.” I said, “Be aware and present.” Awareness and presence are not two things, really, but if I only say, “Be aware,” you might think of that in terms of normal awareness, that is, observing experience from a distance, with the detachment of a subject viewing an object.

When I say, “aware and present,” I am saying, “present to what you are aware of,” which means you are not only noticing it, but you are also in contact with it; you are touching it, feeling it, sensing its texture and quality.

Presence gives a sense of immediacy, of fulness, of hereness in the experience. It gives a sense of immediacy and directness that suffuses the experience, that pervades it and fills it, so that our awareness, our consciousness, is not only observing it from a removed place but also from within it. It is as though our nerve endings were inside the experience, outside the experience, and in between; they are everywhere and feeling the experience in all its possibilities. That’s when we really know the experience fully and completely. 

If we have that kind of awareness, then we recognize that to be aware of something is not just a function, and it is not just a capacity. The awareness, in fact, is our essential presence, our hereness, our substantiality. 

Awareness is Our True Nature

And, This is a Beautiful Mystery…

Our True Nature hides right in front of us. But, it is not the fault of True Nature for hiding because True Nature loves to manifest itself in each moment. In fact, True Nature is always manifesting here and now because True Nature is the same thing as Being. True Nature does not ‘go anywhere’ or ‘do anything’ at all because it is pure being. You are, for illustration, simply being wherever you are as you read this.  Can you hear this amazing truth? True Nature is simply being; You simply are; There is an IS-ness to you. And, you get in touch with your True Nature as Being whenever you become conscious or aware of your being. Awareness knows this being-ness to you and by paying attention to your experience (internal and external), awareness grounds you with a sense that you are simply being…and being is your True Nature. True Nature is simply consciousness (or awareness) of what is being in this moment. Because this is so foreign, we must be willing to ‘change from one mind to another mind’ when it comes to the process of improving ourselves and our lives.

The Practice: Inviting Allowing in the Moment

Here are some thoughts for beginners and veterans in this work of being aware and present:

1. Sit for five minutes in a chair and in a room that are not your usual places. Take three deeper than usual breaths and then let your breath settle into a rhythm. Once settled, breathing in: “I know I am breathing in…in;” and breathing out: “I know I am breathing out…out.”

2. As you are breathing in and out (doing #1), pay particular attention to any emotions that might arise and allow your emotion to be just as it is. Love your emotion as you become aware of it. If you fight your emotion, then allow that experience in as well. In allowing all that arises in your consciousness of emotions you will not add to your emotional suffering. You will soon find yourself in a place of peace with what is and peace with what is will lead you to peace with what you are…you simply being.

3. Remember: By loving what your awareness is showing you, you are allowing yourself to become Your True Nature (and this path of loving-awareness of what is will never fail to lead you home, to you being you without fear of you losing yourself, of a loss of your being).