For many, our objective is to live a “conscious life.” The alternative of living an unconscious life is not attractive to most, but what is defined as conscious living? We suggest that it is living according to the highest level of awareness (mindfulness) we are capable of at any given moment. That means an active self-awareness at all levels of our being: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It also means we live with an awareness of the impact or the consequences of our being-ness on our own self, on others, and on the environment.
An awareness that what we think, feel, and do has consequences first on who we become but on other beings as well. “Others” means not only the people we are in direct contact with, but those we indirectly impact by the level of our awareness, choices and actions, namely, the entire world population. This extends not only to the population of humans but of animals and plants as well. And when we consider the environment, it is not simply the ground where we stand and the air we breathe—it encompasses from the local to the planetary levels. Yet that awareness as broadly defined as we can define it is of itself insufficient if we lack responsibility, accountability and compassion for the negative consequences we create, knowingly or not, on the “others.” Our awareness is insufficient if, in addition, we lack the desire to shift and remedy our attitudes as well as our actions in order to contribute to a more harmonious whole.
You may ask why is all this necessary. It is necessary because humans are naturally very self-centered, an attitude that immediately limits the scope of one’s awareness, causing us to become influenced by all kinds of ideas and values handed down from one generation to the next and blindly accepted. That collective consciousness subjects us unconsciously to a collective hypnotism that pushes us in preconceived directions robbing us of the exercise of our free will. Consequently, for a part of our lives we are likely sleepwalking—and not likely in the right direction—causing undesirable consequences for ourselves and others. When we sleepwalk through life we are not being our full selves—it robs us of part of our own living experience.
All this might sound ambitious and very challenging. How do we go about living consciously? The safety admonition air travelers are familiar with comes to mind: in case oxygen masks are released from the overhead compartment, apply yours first before helping others, even the ones we love. Indeed, we must take care of ourselves first if we want to be capable of helping others. In conscious living parlance it means that we must rise higher in consciousness and this starts with an enhanced awareness of our own selves.
The saying “think globally but act locally” is also appropriate, knowing that our actions engender consequences, both positive and negative, and well beyond ourselves. This is why self-awareness is the indispensible first step. It is neither obvious nor easy.
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung (1875 – 1961), one of the first Western explorers of collective consciousness (a phrase he coined), taught that: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
How do we make the unconscious conscious?
Life itself points us in that direction all the time if we make the effort to notice.
Think of our life experience as the projection of the content of our consciousness, including all the parts of the collective unconscious that we have unconsciously as well as consciously accepted. The content we are neither in agreement with nor proud of is projected in discordant life experience. The only way to change the experience is to modify the content of our consciousness responsible for the undesirable experience.
Observation and introspection will cause us to identify some beliefs or values that we are not really in harmony with. Then we need to consciously dispense with them anytime they resurface. Both skill and patience are required. We must not condemn ourselves for our failing because the root cause is a set of beliefs that comes from the universal unconscious. In fact, it is cultivating self-love that will provide the necessary patience and awareness we seek.
More on the topic of how to live consciously will be addressed in a forthcoming blog. In the meantime, visit www.Liveconscious.com and go to Jack Eagle’s article “Thrilled To Be Alive.” It is one that I relate to deeply and would love to comment on with some very helpful ideas, tools and skills to help us “rise in consciousness,” a pre-condition to living more consciously for both our own benefit and the benefit of all the “others” around us.
“Thrilled To Be Alive.” Live Conscious, 13 Jan. 2018, liveconscious.com/2017/12/thrilled-to-be-alive/.