Today, the vast majority of people on this planet have no concept of conscious awareness or mindfulness. Many of those who do, teachers and students alike, have the idea that mindfulness is a refocusing, distracting or relaxing technique that can make us feel better. They have no idea that mindfulness is a gateway to the unexplainable vastness of who and what we truly are. Mindfulness is our connection to the reality of what we’re capable of experiencing in a very profound way, although our minds are unable to understand or make sense of it.
Mindful awareness can lead us to experiencing the eternal, unchanging present where nothing matters, yet everything matters; in which everything is totally irrelevant, and yet profoundly relevant.
Those that see mindfulness as a therapy tool or a “feel-better” technique cannot have experienced the conscious awareness that I have—not yet. For them, mindfulness remains unknown. I’m not alone, however, as many of us have stumbled upon this great discovery which, at the same time, changes everything and nothing.
Conscious awareness can’t be explained or transferred
The conscious awareness that you and I have experienced can’t be explained, and we can’t give it to another. We can only tell our story about it, which can either be understood or not.
How would you be able to explain this shift in perspective to someone who hasn’t experienced it? Could I teach my beloved dog to think about her thoughts? If not, how can I teach people who don’t know what they’re missing, and have had no experience of conscious awareness, how to become consciously aware? Does anyone even need an explanation? We all have only our own experiences to rely on, and my experiences can’t be compared to yours.
Thought and conscious awareness
Am I really consciously aware? Or do I just think I am? I know, from what I’ve experienced, that it’s possible for a human being to experience conscious awareness, and I know it’s not experienced via thought. I recognize the difference between awareness and thought. I know that, at times, I’ve deluded myself into thinking that I’m mindfully aware, but that was only thought thinking, only thought thinking it knows. I know that thought doesn’t know—can’t know—but it’s all I have. I can’t say I know for sure that I’ve experienced conscious awareness. I can only say that I think I have, and that doesn’t count.
Thought will never know or understand conscious awareness. It can’t capture it, and can’t explain it. However, mindfulness or conscious awareness can only be spoken about, by us, through the filter of thought and its limitations. That means for now, we have to live with those who don’t know, and those who don’t know but think they know, and we have to live with not knowing ourselves. Of the “don’t-knows,” the “think-they-knows,” and the “know-they-don’t-knows,” I consider myself to be one of the ones who knows that I don’t know. Most people don’t know that—they don’t know that they don’t know.
There are also the fortunate ones who experience mindful awareness but don’t think about it very much, and don’t talk about it or try to explain what it is. I am not one of them, as I like to think about it, and try to understand and explain it. That’s how I am, even though I know it’s a hopeless and impossible task, since I can’t really comprehend what is experientially unknowable.
Conscious awareness throughout the next 10 to 10,000 years
The evolution of conscious awareness will depend on whether or not its emergence can survive the self-serving impulses of conscious thought, which can be furious, revengeful, irresponsible and destructive, to the extent that they’re capable of destroying the planet.
Let’s say that less than 1 percent of the population on the planet have had some experience of conscious awareness, or at least have some understanding of it. If so, we might have a long way to go before we reach the tipping point at which conscious awareness will become the norm. However, when it comes time for the tipping point to arrive, this won’t happen in the future. It’ll happen now, in an instant, as everything does. Perhaps it will happen sooner that we think. Perhaps we are only waiting for just one more: You.
Read about mindfulness and awareness in the business world in SERVANT LEADERSHIP: Mindfulness and awareness in the workplace creates resonance and fulfillment»