We all try to practice awareness and cultivate a clear perspective on things but sometimes it can be easy to miss the obvious. The clear connections and logical truths can lie in front of us for years without us joining things up and seeing clearly. A really prevalent one in our society is that money equals happiness. We’ve been sold this all our lives and it’s reinforced so constantly that we hardly blink anymore when we hear phrases like, ‘Get rich or die trying.’
Get rich for what? What does money enable us to do? It gives us the capacity to buy goods and services. So we can end up with a lot more stuff, but do we ask what that stuff brings to our lives that is of value? Take the example of phones and electronic media devices. At its simplest level a phone is a communication device and the benefit of any communication device is not in the device itself, it’s in what we communicate with it.
It’s much the same with social media and other sources of information. It feels good to be in touch with people we care about or have an interest in, but it’s impotant to be aware of all of the information we’re taking in. How much of it is really of value and enriches us? So a level of discernment is advisable, isn’t it.
Within our lives it can be a useful exercise to stop and take stock of all of our ‘things’, our ‘stuff’. What are they giving us? What can they do for us? How much of it do we really need and what is of value? Without realising it we can be so sold on the idea that things bring happiness that we buy and accumulate objects we don’t really need. Perhaps we just want to be happy and we don’t know how else to do it. Sometimes we hold onto things for so long that we’re reluctant to let them go. We can’t imagine not having them around.
But when we examine this in our own lives we can find that what really brings us joy, aren’t things we’ve bought it’s the things that are free.
As a reflection it can be worthwhile to examine closely what takes place within us when we feel a sense of need, of want. What does that feel like? Take the time to dwell with that, just to be with the state of feeling unfulfilled without immediately taking action to get something, eat something, drink something to meet that need.
Because we’re very skilled at surrounding ourselves with all that we need and all that we might need and with satisfying every little craving on ‘automatic pilot’ almost before the need has been registered in our consciousness. We can find ourselves checking our phones, online, in front of the fridge, exploring the cupboard before we’ve actually had a conscious thought on the subject.
But this is a good time of year to raise our awareness of this, to start to become more conscious of our responses and actions and the movements within that lead to them. If you’ve never really considered what it means to ‘expand our consciousness’ then in one sense it can be just this simple work, to keep track of and to take time to look inside and see what’s going on before we simply act.
What we find over time is that there are these currents within the sense of self that go about their business and push and pull us in this direction or that. But this kind of reflection gives us the opportunity to explore them, to raise them to consciousness and to silently let them tell their story to us: what they are, where did they start, what within us energises them?
Then we gain some control, don’t we. We’re not just a reactive organism, responding to needs without awareness. We can choose not to go with these impulses and to refrain from acting in one way or another. Without judging, but by just observing deeply and quietly we can bring a sense of stillness, of freedom and of choice into our actions. We can choose to wisely refrain from indulging every little whim.
It’s important not to judge but just to be aware of our responses and reflect not just upon the need but also upon our choices and the outcome of our choices. When we have a clear and open choice then we have freedom, don’t we. We’re removing volition from the less conscious elements of the sense of self and handing it to our conscious awakened self and this is an important step towards freedom.
But in the same way we learn not to judge the impulses inside we must also suspend the urge to judge our ability to do this, it’s not a light undertaking and it will take time and patience and persistence. We need to be a friend to ourselves along the way, not a task master. But a friend who wants the best for us not just to indulge us. So if you’re interested to try, let’s start by taking small steps and see where it leads us.
Giving up that which does not support us brings a sense of freedom, not loss.