Are You Awake? The Dimensions of Alertness

By Frank M. Wanderer Ph.D, Zen Gardner What does it mean to be Alert? When the notion of Alertness is mentioned at a conversation, people often tend to confuse it with being awake. Alertness is, however, not identical with being awake, since being awake is only one dimension of Alertness. It is the outermost dimension of Alertness, its surface only. In total, three dimensions of Alertness may be identified. The Dimensions of Alertness The surface, that is, the outermost dimension of Alertness is when the focus of attention is open the widest. Being Alert then means that now, in this very moment, with our eyes closed (or open) you pay attention to the processes of your inner world (bodily sensations, the stream of your thoughts, the shifting of your emotions), and the external world surrounding you (noises, scents etc. from the direct world around you). In such an instant you only focus your attention on what takes place in that very moment. From the aspect of another, deeper dimension of Alertness it is a quality of your consciousness when you cease to evaluate, qualify and control the experience affecting you at that particular moment (disregard the functions of the mind) and, at the same time, you give up all your desires to control events. You have no expectations in connection with the given moment, you accept what is taking place, without making judgments, what is wrong and what is right for you. The deepest dimension of Alertness is a state of Consciousness, the most important characteristic feature of which is the presence of the observing Consciousness, the capability of Sight. In this state of the Consciousness we, as an external spectator, view what is happening inside and around us, and we do not allow these events to take us with them, to affect us deeper. There is a virtual space between you as the contemplating Consciousness and the experiences affecting you. This space enables you to avoid identification with your experience and to look at that experience as an external spectator. Alertness is, at the same time, Presence, which means that your are not only aware of your current actions, but you are also aware of yourself. It is only possible to talk about real Alertness when all three dimensions are present at the same time. The Notion of the Illusionary Self In your present, individual state of consciousness you identify with the thoughts and emotions that appear in your mind, so you believe that you are a separate, illusionary person, an Ego. Living as an Ego in this world, you attempt to stabilize your illusionary sense of self. You believe that the more (knowledge, material wealth) you add to your Ego, the stronger and more permanent it will be. Passing time will, however, prove you wrong, since the illusionary self is just a shape and as such is subordinate to the eternal law of the world of shapes and forms. The law is that of the law of change which stipulates that in that world, the world of shapes and forms, it is not possible to stabilize anything, as everything is in the process of constant changes. Your thoughts and emotions keep changing, and so does their centre, the Ego, with them. Your sufferings are cause by the fact that you attempt to stabilize something that cannot be stabilized by nature. But you fail to recognize that, since you fully identified with the Ego, and forgot that you are in fact pure Consciousness, free of identifications. An Unchanging Factor There is, however, one factor that remains unchanged in your life through the years, and that is the sense that ”I am.” As a result of the identification with your mind and its functions, the emphasis shifts from ”I am” to ”I am this and that” (I am a man, I am American, I am a doctor, I am a father etc.). The concept of ”I am this and that” is in constant change, as they are all bound to the objects of the forms and shapes. The only thing not subject to change, what is beyond ”I am”, is the formless Consciousness. You must wake up from the deep stupor of identification, you need to become alert, because that is the only way for you to abandon your identification with the thoughts, the works of the mind, and that is how you are able to shake off your illusionary existence. If you are alert, only the here and now exist for you, and you may discover the quiet Presence behind the illusionary and constantly changing small Ego, the ”I am” which in turn you may recognize as your real and unchanging Self. Continue Reading>>>

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