In my last article I spoke about signs you maybe unconscious.
In this article I’ll be sharing with 10 powerful ways to raise your consciousness.
This is a HUGE article – but if you take the time to read it and take notes, you’ll learn a lot and come away with some great recommendations.
Meditation is one of the greatest spiritual practices of all time. People have been practicing it for thousands of years for a reason: It works.
Benefits of Meditation
- Meditation changes your personality – for the better. It makes you nicer, kinder, happier, more compassionate and empathetic, more loving and peaceful
- Meditation is good for you. It decreases anxiety, stress, tension, worry, and it lowers your blood pressure. It also improves your concentration, creativity, focus, intelligence, intuition, mental health, memory, mood, and peace of mind
- Meditation allows you to see and perceive more clearly. The more you watch your mind, the calmer and quieter it will become, and the more clearly you will see and perceive everything
- Meditation makes you more conscious and aware of everything: Yourself, other people, your surroundings, the world around you
- Meditation opens your mind. It gives you space and separation from your thoughts so that you aren’t so attached to them, and you don’t identify with them so much. There aren’t a lot of closed-minded meditators
- Meditation recharges your batteries and gives your body and mind a break
- If you don’t meditate, you become a slave to your mind. If you do meditate, your mind becomes your slave
Make meditation a daily habit. Make it your most important habit of the day.
Make it non-negotiable. It will completely change your life.
My Favorite Meditation Techniques
Each of the following Meditation practices should be practiced:
- Sitting comfortably upright in a cross-legged position, with your eyes closed, left leg on the inside, with your thumbs and index fingers touching
- Alternatively you can practice Meditation lying on your back – if you can do so without falling asleep
The Awareness Watching Awareness Method
The Awareness Watching Awareness Method as described in the book The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford is very powerful.
I’ve had some amazing results with it, and I highly recommend it.
The Awareness Watching Awareness Method Practice Instructions
“Shut your eyes. Notice your awareness. Observe your awareness. Turn your attention away from the world, body and thought and towards awareness watching awareness. Every time you notice you are thinking, turn your attention away from thought and towards awareness watching awareness. Watch your awareness, not your thoughts.”
“Look out at your room and notice your awareness looking out through your eyes. Now shut your eyes and notice the same awareness is still there that a moment ago was looking outward at the room. Observe that awareness. If you notice thoughts, ignore the thoughts and turn your attention away from the thoughts and towards awareness observing awareness.”
“There is nothing else to be done.
Don’t expect any type of experience.
Don’t look for something else.
Don’t seek any other state.
Don’t seek deeper awareness.
Don’t seek anything.
You are observing, not seeking.
Just remain with awareness watching awareness.” – Michael Langford
Watch your thoughts
Another one of my favorite meditations is to simply watch my thoughts come and go.
I learnt this from Eckhart Tolle in his great book The Power of Now
“Try a little experiment. Close your eyes and say to yourself: “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
When you watch your thoughts:
- Don’t judge or label anything you see – just watch and observe
- Don’t resist anything. If you feel resistance rising up, don’t resist that either
- If you think happy and positive thoughts – that’s OK
- If you think evil and negative thoughts – that’s OK
- Just let everything be exactly as it is
- Don’t try to control your mind
- Don’t try to achieve anything
- Don’t try to get enlightened
- Continue for 20 minutes – longer if possible
Eventually when you watch your mind for long enough in meditation, you’ll start to get some space and separation from it, and you’ll start to experience it as something foreign and apart from you.
It’ll be like listening to the voice of a stranger – someone you don’t even recognize.
It’ll be like watching a movie that you know you’re not producing.
Thoughts will still be perceived by you, but because you’ll clearly see that they’re not being produced by you, you won’t identify with them as much, nor will you take them so seriously.
“In true meditation all objects (thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, etc.) are left to their natural functioning. This means that no effort should be made to focus on, manipulate, control, or suppress any object of awareness. In true meditation the emphasis is on being awareness; not on being aware of objects, but on resting as primordial awareness itself.” – Adyashanti
Watch your breath
A popular alternative to watching your thoughts is to pay attention to your breath.
Sit comfortably upright in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed, and simply focus on your in-breath and out-breath. If you’re focused on your breath, you won’t be focused on your thoughts.
“I am not the body, I am not even the mind”
I also love Sadhguru’s “I am not the body, I am not even the mind” meditation.
Sit comfortably upright in a cross-legged position with your eyes closed.
With each inhale mentally say to yourself: “I am not the body”
With each exhale mentally say to yourself: “I am not even the mind”
Do it for a minimum of 12 minutes, ideally twice a day.
It’s very powerful, and if you do it, you’ll find that it takes you very deep.
A trick I’ve learnt to extend my meditation time when my mind is bombarding me with thoughts and won’t let me sit still: I open my eyes, stand up, and walk around for 30 seconds as if I’m going to do something else, and then I immediately sit down again in a different spot and continue to meditate.
I find that this tricks my mind into believing that I’ve given up on the meditation for the day and then it stops bothering me for at least another 5 minutes. If/when my mind starts bothering me too much again, I’ll stand up and walk around again, and then sit down in a different spot and again continue to meditate.
I find that by doing this each subsequent time I sit down to meditate:
- My mind is quieter
- My body is more at ease
- I’m able to go deeper
Another way to trick your mind into leaving you alone is to think to yourself say to yourself during meditation “just 2 more minutes”. I find that this also makes your mind leave you alone in peace for a little longer.
Notes on Meditation
- I recommend meditating for 30 minutes in the morning, and then again a few hours before bed at night. Personally, I don’t like to meditate right before bed, because it recharges my batteries and then I find it hard to fall asleep
- Meditation is hard in the beginning. Your mind isn’t used to it and resists it, but the more you do it, the more you like it, and the easier it gets
- Meditation is easy when your mind is quiet and peaceful, but difficult when your mind is busy and hyperactive. But the busier your mind is, the more stressed out you are, the more you “don’t have time to meditate”, the more you should meditate. Why? Because it’s a sign that your mind is in control of you
What Meditation doesn’t do
Meditation removes stress, but not the cause of stress.
So if you have a problem in your life, you still need to work on it.
Just as you work on your inner world with meditation, you still need to take action in the external outer world to improve your outer world.
One of the biggest mistakes spiritual seekers make is they divide their lives into:
They’re one person at the ashram, church, mosque, satsang etc. and another with their friends or at work. It’s like they have a split personality: One conscious/one unconscious. One awake/one asleep.
I always wonder to myself: Don’t they realise that who they are outside of the ashram, church, mosque, satsang etc. is just as important – if not more important – as who they are inside of the ashram, church, mosque, satsang?
I mean think about it: Your life isn’t determined by what you do 5% of the time, but what you do 95% of the time.
Mindfulness is about removing the dividing line between the spiritual and non-spiritual activities of your life, and turning EVERYTHING into a spiritual practice:
- Washing dishes
- Brushing your teeth
- Sitting on the toilet
- Taking a shower
It’s about being fully present with whatever you’re doing, and doing it consciously.
“Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand.
The more you meditate, the easier mindfulness becomes.
The more mindful you are, the easier meditation becomes.
Mindfulness is also like meditation in that it is a habit, and like any habit, it is difficult at first, but the more you practice it the easier it gets.
3. Read these books
The Power of Now is probably the best introduction to real spirituality I know of (unlike new-age nonsense such as “Conversations with God” or “The Secret”).
If you haven’t read it, read it now.
“The mind is using you. You are unconsciously identified with it, so you don’t even know that you are its slave. It’s almost as if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessing entity to be yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity – the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence.” – Eckhart Tolle
The books that follow however, are more advanced and even better.
They’re by far the best books on enlightenment I’ve ever read.
I AM THAT is the greatest book on enlightenment/spirituality ever written.
For a serious spiritual seeker of truth, this is it. The search ends here. This is the only book you need to read. It has it all. It says it all. If you put everything this book says into practice you won’t need to read any other books. It isn’t a book that you’ll read just once either. It’s a book that you’ll come back to again and again your entire life. And the more you read it, the more your eyes will open.
“You cannot possibly say that you are what you think yourself to be. Your ideas about yourself change from day to day and from moment to moment. Your self-image is the most changeful thing you have. It is utterly vulnerable, at the mercy of a passer by. A bereavement, the loss of a job, an insult, and your image of yourself, which you call your person, changes deeply.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj
I AM THAT definitely isn’t an easy read. It’s a 550 page/101 chapter masterpiece that must be deeply contemplated word by word, statement by statement, question by question. It isn’t a book of learning either, it’s a book of un-learning. It will force you to examine and question everything you think you know about yourself, other people, and the world around you.
“Earlier I was sure of so many things, now I am sure of nothing. But I feel that I have lost nothing by not knowing, because all my knowledge was false. My not knowing was in itself knowledge of the fact that all knowledge is ignorance, that ‘I do not know’ is the only true statement the mind can make. Take the idea ‘I was born’. You may take it to be true. It is not. You were never born, nor will you ever die. It is the idea that was born and shall die, not you.” – Nisargadatta Maharaj
The entire book is in question and answer format and contains questions from spiritual seekers from all over the world to the enlightened sage Nisargadatta Maharaj on awakening, enlightenment, death, God, reality, truth – and everything else imaginable.
“Question: You seem to advise me to be self-centered to the point of egoism. Must I not yield even to my interest in other people?
Maharaj: Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or enoble your own image of yourself. And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one’s own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape – your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one’s name and shape is selfishness. A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for.”
If I could have only ONE BOOK for the rest of my life – I AM THAT would be it.
Be as you are is another incredibly powerful book in question and answer format that contains the best collection of the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest enlightened sages of the 20th century.
“How to get rid of the mind? Is it the mind that wants to kill itself? The mind cannot kill itself. So your business is to find the real nature of the mind. Then you will know that there is no mind. When the Self is sought, the mind is nowhere.” – Ramana Maharshi
This book is for advanced spiritual seekers and I highly recommend it:
“To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief, but nothing will be gained. So you must turn inward and seek the source of the mind, and you will find the mind does not exist at all. The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self.” – Ramana Maharshi
Jed McKenna is the pseudonym of an unknown author that speaks about awakening/enlightenment in a very direct, no-nonsense, no bullshit way. Of all of his books, I like Spiritual Warfare the best.
“Here’s the most directly I am able to say this: The one and only truth of any person lies like a black hole at their very core, and everything else—everything else—is just the rubbish and debris that covers the hole. Of course, to someone who is just going about their normal human existence undistracted by the larger questions, that rubbish and debris is everything that makes them who they are. But to someone who wants to get to the truth, who they are is what’s in the way. All fear is ultimately fear of this inner black hole, and nothing on this side of that hole is true. The process of achieving enlightenment is about the breaking through the blockage and stepping through the hole.” ― Jed McKenna
Jed has no respect for religion or tradition and gets the reader to question why they’re meditating, praying, pursuing enlightenment etc. in the first place.
“Forget tradition. Start fresh, you’ll have a much better time of it. Tradition is just a word for stuff you accept as true without verifying it for yourself. Tradition is the deeply rutted path that gets formed after many years of being followed by the herd. Buddha said this….Shankara said that….Who gives a fat rat’s ass what they said or what anyone said? You don’t know they said it, you don’t know what they meant by it, you don’t know if it’s been passed down accurately, you don’t even know they existed, so what do you know? You don’t know anything, and even if you did, you still wouldn’t. It’s self verify or fail, simple as that.” – Jed McKenna
“The point is to wake up, not to earn a Ph.D. In waking up.” – Jed McKenna
PS: The audiobook versions of Jed’s books are excellent
The Most Direct Means to Eternal Bliss by Michael Langford is an excellent book that describes several different methods of Meditation for enlightenment including:
- The Awareness Watching Awareness Method
- The Abandon Release Method
- The Eternal Method
- The Infinite Space Method
- The Loving All Method
- And the many tools, tricks, and preservation strategies used by the ego
I’ve had some extremely powerful experiences practicing the Awareness Watching Awareness Meditation technique this book describes.
I highly recommend this book.
The Essence of Enlightenment by James Swartz is highly detailed book that describes every aspect of enlightenment:
- What it is/What it isn’t
- The Myths of Enlightenment
- The Obstructions to Enlightenment
- The Qualifications for Enlightenment
- And lots of other things including karma, dharma, love, meditation and more
It’s a great book. I highly recommend it.
“Thinking of yourself as a person is a big problem. In fact it is the only problem. It has been with you-in fact you think it is you-for as long as you can remember. You cannot imagine life without it. It is your thinking that creates your reality and, to the degree that your story is not in harmony with the reality, which is obviously impersonal, you are going to suffer.” – James Swartz
Satsang is a spiritual gathering which is kind of like church, except that the person on stage isn’t a preacher, they’re an enlightened guru, and instead of preaching, they simply answer audience questions on enlightenment, meditation, spirituality etc.
If you don’t have the ability to attend a satsang near you, you can watch them online on YouTube.
Here are some of my favorite spiritual teachers:
“Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them or to see things differently—until you have given the whole world its freedom—you’ll never have your freedom.” – Adyashanti
“The meaning of your life depends on which ideas you permit to use you. Who you think you are determines where you put your attention. Where you direct your attention creates your life experiences, and brings a new course of events into being. Where you habitually put your attention is what you worship. What do you worship in this mind stream called your life?” – Gangaji
“Life is but a dream. There is no such thing as objective reality. Two cannot be proven. Nothing can be shown to exist. Time and space, love and hate, good and evil, cause and effect, are all just ideas. Anyone who says they know anything is really saying they don’t know the only thing. Any assertion of truth other than I Am is a confession of ignorance. The greatest religious and philosophical thoughts and ideas in the history of man contain no more truth than the bleating of sheep. The greatest books contain no more truth than the greatest luncheon meats.” – Jed McKenna
“Never assume that you have attained truth. Don’t make any claim to knowledge. Form no conclusion or evaluation concerning truth. The minute you do, your downfall is assured. Whenever you imagine you know something, you cease being open to the living exploration. You have closed a door and cut off the oxygen to the breathing truth.” – Mooji
“A human being, the more intelligent he becomes, the more confused he gets – every step is a confusion. Only an idiot is dead sure. The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.” – Sadhguru
You can watch these Satsangs on YouTube, or you can convert these talks to MP3 to listen to later.
If you do get a chance to attend a satsang with an enlightened being however, you should definitely do it, because you’ll often learn more from simply being in their presence than from anything they might say.
Pay extra attention to repeated teachings
Enlightened beings will often talk about something you don’t understand. They’ll keep on repeating the same things over and over again. You might have no idea why they keep talking about something, why they keep bringing it up, why it’s relevant etc. but look into it. Find out why they won’t shut up about it. Don’t just dismiss it and assume that it’s not important because you don’t understand it.
For example: I was at Satsang with Mooji in India in 2016 and he said repeatedly:
“Can the perceiver be perceived?” – Mooji
He’s said this on a number of occasions, so I know it’s important, and that I’ve got to look into it and find out for myself.
5. Psychedelics: Ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, Magic Mushrooms etc.
Psychedelics such as Ayahuasca, DMT, LSD, Magic Mushrooms etc. are incredible and life changing for many people. They were for me.
If you’ve never had a real, unmistakable, spiritual experience, they can provide it. Believe me it’s one thing to read about the spiritual experiences of Jesus or Krishna or Muhammad and another to have your own.
“The only experience which counts is your own experience. Everything else is irrelevant. If flying saucers were to land on the lawn of the White House tomorrow, it would not matter to you as much as if you smoked DMT tonight, because that’s your experience.” – Terrence McKenna
Benefits of Psychedelics
- Allows you to escape the prison of your perspective
- Allows you to see and perceive things you can’t ordinarily in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily
- Psychedelics are the fastest way I know of to open your mind (followed by travelling the world, meditation, and seeking out the best arguments and evidence against your beliefs) You will never see life, other people, yourself – anything – the same way again
- Psychedelics reveal your blind spots and make the unconscious, conscious. They reveal:
- Things you might have noticed, but that you maybe hadn’t yet realized the full significance of (childhood traumas you haven’t healed from, or maybe a bad habit, or a personal, health, or relationship problem that is spiraling out of control)
- Things that others can see about you, but that you can’t see, or don’t want to see. e.g. addictions, attachments, approval seeking behavior, bad habits, depression, defense mechanisms, mental/psychological problems
- Things about yourself that you don’t know, and no one else does either
- They show you where you’re currently going wrong in life and what you should do differently
Notes about Psychedelics
- You cannot control the experience. For this reason, I do NOT recommend psychedelics to anyone that cannot, or is unwilling, to let go and give up control
- Once the trip starts you’re going for a ride and you cannot stop it. Don’t try to resist it or stop it because you are likely to trigger a terrifying experience (a “bad trip”)
- Don’t take psychedelics if you’re feel anxious, depressed, sad etc. or any other ‘negative’ state because they’re likely to amplify it and make it worse
- Don’t take psychedelics with someone you don’t trust or feel safe with, or anywhere you don’t feel comfortable or safe
You can read about my life changing experiences with Ayahuasca here: How Ayahuasca Changed My Life
6. Critical thinking
One of the biggest myths in the world of religion/spirituality, is that enlightened beings know everything. That they’re infallible and incapable of being wrong. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Enlightened beings not only can be wrong, but they’re wrong frequently, especially when they speak about subjects they know nothing about. Remember: Just because someone is enlightened, that doesn’t mean they’re an expert on everything.
You need to think for yourself, and start to question what you read and what you’re told, instead of blindly believing whatever your guru/holy book/religion says, because there is a lot of bullshit, lies, and myths masquerading as truth in the world of new-age/religion/spirituality, and if you’re not careful you’ll believe it.
Critical thinking and an understanding of cognitive biases and logical fallacies, is an absolute must if you want to get smarter and raise your consciousness. It will give you the skills to sort fact from fiction, truth from lies, and reality from fantasy, and it will improve your bullshit detector and stop you from being gullible, naïve, and stupid.
Unfortunately it is a skill that is sorely lacking amongst the general population, and definitely amongst most new-age/religious/spiritual seekers who are often gullible and stupid and quick to believe anything (no matter how far-fetched or ridiculous) and who often act as if ignorance were bliss and intellectual laziness was a virtue.
If you want to improve your critical thinking skills, get smarter, and raise your consciousness read this article: How to get Smarter: A guide to critical thinking, cognitive biases, and logical fallacies – Part 1
7. Become a Truth seeker
If you want to raise your awareness/consciousness you must be a Truth Seeker.
You cannot want enlightenment whilst simultaneously being opposed to reality.
Unfortunately most people aren’t truth seekers. They’re approval seekers, comfort seekers, pleasure seekers – but they’re not truth seekers. Most people could care less about the truth. They just want to feel good. If the truth makes them feel good – they want it. But if it doesn’t – they don’t.
So what does it mean to become a truth seeker?
Follow the evidence wherever it leads
As a Truth Seeker you must be willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. Even if it’s inconvenient and uncomfortable and contradicts everything you believe.
You must also be willing to change your beliefs every single day without resistance or hesitation if the evidence demands it.
Don’t just believe whatever you want to believe like most people.
Read this: Follow the evidence where it leads
No Sacred cows
“If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him” – Zen Kōan
If you want the truth:
- No belief
- No guru
- No holy book
- No religion
- No subject
- No teacher
- No teaching
Should be off limits, or safe from criticism, questioning, and/or scrutiny.
You should have NO Sacred Cows
8. Travel the world
If you have the money and the time:
Travel the world to as many places as you can, as soon as you can.
Traveling the world will give you a real-life education and it will open your eyes and open your mind and teach you many lessons that simply cannot be learnt in your own backyard. It will also give you a reality check and show you the way the world really is, instead of how your mind or the media portrays it, and it will make you more intelligent, interesting, and knowledgeable.
You can read about my experiences traveling the world in this article
9. Audit your life
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
Auditing your life is not only one of the greatest productivity hacks I know of, it’s also one of the best and fastest ways to become conscious of how you’re spending your time – and therefore your life.
How to Audit your life
Write down everything you do from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Yep, track every 30 minutes of your day from Monday – Sunday.
6.30am – Wake up and shower
7am – Breakfast
7.30am – Get dressed for work
8.00am – Drive to work
8.30am – 12pm Work
12pm – 1pm Lunch
As soon as you do this you’ll immediately see in black and white terms where you’re spending your time, where you’re wasting time, where your free time is, and what you’re doing with your life.
Auditing your life will only take 30 minutes – one hour, but it will allow you to make the unconscious, conscious, and it will give you the chance to consciously create space in your life for the things that matter. So go through the process. Even if you don’t want to. Spend an hour and save thousands in return.
If you don’t audit your life and become conscious of exactly how/where you’re spending your time, you’ll continue to waste it on unimportant crap that doesn’t matter, and whatever random distraction comes up in the moment.
Most people complain that they “don’t have time”, but that’s not true.
Auditing your life will prove not only that you DO have time, but a lot of it.
10. Audit your diet
You also need to audit your diet in order to become conscious of exactly what kinds of foods you’re eating, and what percentage of your diet is healthy vs unhealthy, proteins vs fats vs carbs etc.
How to Audit your diet
Write down everything you eat during the day from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed. Record every meal, snack, candy bar, drink, everything. Do it for a few days.
This will instantly allow you to see what is lacking from your diet and what needs to be added/removed/changed.
- Change your diet. I’m not telling you to become a vegetarian or a vegan, but if you eat healthy and cut down on the alcohol, coffee, fast foods, sugar etc. you’ll not only look good and feel good, but your body and mind will work better and you’ll have more energy, which will make thinking, decision making, and problem solving easier
- Change your mental diet. Be careful about what you read, watch, and listen to. Don’t just watch whatever is on TV or trending on YouTube, and allow the world to program your mind with drama, fear, negativity, and violence. Instead consciously seek out audiobooks, podcasts, and satsangs that will enlighten you (like the ones I’ve recommended)
- Change your social circle. The people you spend time with affect the way you think, feel, speak, and act. Therefore the more time you spend with people who are smarter and more conscious than you, the more it will accelerate your awakening. And if you don’t know a lot of people who are conscious and aware, go out of your way to find them, and join a meditation group
- Change your environment. Your environment is everything. It affects the way you think, feel, speak, and act, and it shapes your beliefs, desires, and values. If you can move to a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood do so. It’s hard to focus on awakening and enlightenment if you’re constantly surrounded by noise, crime, and violence, and always fearing for your safety
- Pay attention to how things affect you energetically. Most people are completely ignorant of how they’re affected energetically by different colors, foods, music, movies, TV shows, people, weather patterns etc. I know I was prior to Ayahuasca. What gives you energy? What drains your energy? Start to pay attention to it. e.g. if you’re introverted like me you probably recharge your batteries away from other people, whereas if you’re extroverted you probably need to be around other people to recharge your batteries
- Simplify your life. Don’t be too busy or have too much on. It’s hard to wake up if you’re constantly tired, stressed, and overworked. You need time for contemplation, meditation, reflection etc.
- Keep an open mind. Most people today are closed-minded and far too sure of themselves. You can’t tell them anything because they already know everything. It’s important to keep an open mind however, because it’s the only way you’ll learn anything new. Read this article: How to Open your Mind
- Listen more than you talk. You’ll learn a lot more by listening to people and watching them, than you ever will by talking and telling them what you know. PS: If you really want to know what someone really thinks, listen with your eyes and watch what they do, because people lie with their words all the time, but they never lie with their actions
- Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes can be awesome learning opportunities if you’ll take the time to learn from them. So the next time you make a mistake instead of getting angry or defensive or trying to blame someone else…
- Ask yourself:
- What can I learn from this?
- What should I do differently next time?
- Who else could provide some insight into where I might have gone wrong?
- That last question is a good one because other people – especially those more experienced than you – are often able to see a lot of things you can’t, and they’ll often point out things you never would’ve thought of
- Learn from the mistakes of others. Although it’s important to learn from your mistakes, let’s face it: If you have to make every mistake yourself in order to learn from it, you’re going to waste a lot of time, energy, and money. Instead of only learning from your mistakes, learn from the mistakes of others too.
- What can I learn from this?
- What was their mistake?
- Where did they go wrong?
- What should they do differently next time?
- Videotape yourself. One of the best ways to build self-awareness and to become aware of your body language, facial expressions, mannerisms, speech patterns, tonality etc. is to record yourself on video. You’ll learn a lot by watching yourself even if you cringe at first and don’t like what you see. Either way it’s the truth and it’s how you come across to others, so you might as well know. It’s also a good idea to start recording yourself on video whenever you’re practicing for a presentation or speech
- Stop reacting to everything. Most people today are far too reactive. They react compulsively and unconsciously to everyone and everything around them as if it were completely unavoidable, and they had absolutely no choice in the matter. But you do have a choice. You don’t need to respond to every stupid comment intended to annoy you. Nor do you need to answer every stupid question. Just because someone offers up the bait that doesn’t mean you need to bite. Most people deserve to be trolled because they’re far too reactive. It’s just too easy to push their buttons and provoke them. They’re angered by everything. They’re annoyed by everything. They’re triggered by everything. If you want to escape the endless cycle of drama and reactivity however, you need to practice detachment and non-reactivity, and the way you do that is through a combination of meditation, mindfulness, and practice. The more you practice detachment, non-reactivity, non-resistance etc. the easier it gets, until finally one day it’ll become an automatic habit. So the next time you see/hear/read a comment designed to anger or annoy you, just let it go. Don’t think about it. Don’t analyze it. Don’t dwell on it. Just let it go
- Seek awakening as if your hair was on fire. Most people are unconscious and asleep for a reason: They don’t want to wake up. They like being asleep. I’ve found this all across the world: There are millions of people that will go to ashrams/churches/mosques, listen to gurus, meditate, pray, read scriptures etc. but they have no real intention of changing their behavior or waking up. Their subconscious intention is to remain a student, and never to become a master. If you want to wake up however, you must fight for it because everything in the world: Alcohol, Drugs, Music, Movies, TV, Internet/Social Media etc. is designed to put you to sleep, and if you just go with the flow you’ll definitely stay asleep
“Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.” – Sri Ramakrishna
- Take all restrictions off your awakening. Adyashanti the enlightened American Zen teacher, wanted enlightenment so much that he prayed before his awakening: “I now take ALL restrictions OFF my awakening” – Adyashanti
What an incredibly wise and courageous prayer. Adyashanti said he was willing to become homeless and live under a bridge to find enlightenment. He said he was willing to die or to do anything to discover the truth. And that’s what it comes down to. You must be willing to do whatever it takes. You cannot have enlightenment on your terms. Yet almost everyone I’ve ever met who is seeking enlightenment has lots of restrictions upon their awakening. They only want to do things the Buddhist way, or the Christian way, or the Muslim way, or only to follow this guru, or this teaching etc. But every restriction you place upon what you will or won’t do, where you will or won’t go, who you will or won’t listen to, is only going to slow you down. What limits and restrictions have you placed on your awakening?
- Be completely honest with yourself about everything. Stop lying to yourself. Awakening/enlightenment is about perceiving clearly and seeing things as they are, it isn’t about believing whatever you want to believe or lying to yourself in order to feel better. For example: If there was no Christianity or religion, and a guy called Jesus came up to you today and told you to leave your family, friends, job, life etc. and to follow him because he was the “son of God”, would you do it? I’m sure that most Christians would say “yes”, but the reality is that 99.99% wouldn’t. The same goes for every other religion. Too many new-age/religious/spiritual people are completely delusional and they lie to themselves in order to feel better, however this is not the way to wake up. You don’t correct your perception by lying to yourself
- Don’t expect the world to make it easy for you. Don’t expect the world to make it easy for you either. No one cares whether you wake up or not. Other people won’t speak to you the way they would like to be spoken to, and they won’t treat you the way they would like to be treated
“No one wants you to be free. No one is invested in your freedom. Even your family, your parents, they don’t want you to be free. What good are you if you’re free? No one wants you to be free, because when you’re free, no one can control you.” – Mooji
What wakes you up? What puts you to sleep?
In addition to trying to wake up, it’s important to be aware of what puts you to sleep and makes you unconscious.
Here are some things that are likely to put you to sleep:
- Social media
- Video games
These are all dream inducers, and although you can’t control what kinds of thoughts you think, you can decide whether or not to do certain things which are likely to make your mind busier.
I’m not telling you to stop listening to music or to stop watching TV, but I am telling you to start becoming aware of when you are unconscious, and what makes you unconscious.
For me personally, I’ve noticed that nothing puts me into the dream state faster, or more intensely, than a really ‘good’ day, or a really ‘bad’ day.
I’ve also noticed that there are two types of people who tend to wake me up:
- Extremely conscious people
- Extremely unconscious people
Either extreme does it for me.
How about you?
What wakes you up?
What puts you to sleep?
What makes you conscious?
What makes you unconscious?
The Acid Test
“The best indicator of your level of consciousness is how you deal with life’s challenges when they come. Through those challenges, an already unconscious person tends to become more deeply unconscious, and a conscious person more intensely conscious. You can use a challenge to awaken you, or you can allow it to pull you into even deeper sleep.” – Eckhart Tolle
How awake are you really?
This is what I’ve come to realize:
Anyone can be calm, happy, peaceful etc. when things are going well and everything is going their way…
But what about:
When nothing is going your way?
When everyone and everything is going against you?
When life sucks and you can’t catch a break?
How conscious and aware are you then?
This is the real acid test.
The real test of truth.
Can you keep cool under pressure?
Will you speak the truth even when it’s not popular?
Will you do the right thing even when no one else is?
Even when you don’t want to?
Don’t lie – unless they ‘need’ to.
Don’t insult people – unless they ‘deserve’ it.
Don’t do the wrong thing – unless ‘everyone else’ is.
I know that everyone is capable of making mistakes and slipping up from time to time, but the question is:
How often and easily do you slip up?
How often do you give into temptation?
If all it takes for you to do the ‘wrong’ thing, is a little bit of pressure or stress, or for someone to get on your nerves and annoy you, then your realization isn’t yet deep and abiding. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but do be aware of it, and don’t delude yourself into thinking that you’re more awake than you really are.
- Turn everything into a spiritual practice
- Don’t divide your life into spiritual vs non-spiritual
- Read these books:
- Critical thinking
- Enlightened beings aren’t always right about everything
- You need to think for yourself
- Become a truth seeker
- Follow the evidence where it leads
- Travel the world
- Audit your life
- Audit your diet
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Woman in Jerusalem market image credit: Rostislav Glinsky / Shutterstock.com
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