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  • Antony Thier

The path to enlightenment

You are reading. You are reading and breathing. Somewhere in your body you are holding tension, notice where that tension is. Did you relax the tension you found? Where was it? How much did you relax it? You are practicing awareness right now. You are practicing the path to enlightenment right now. You are understanding.

Inherently this is the experience, the doing-ness of the path to enlightenment. Notice that the experience you’re having may or may not be what you consider enlightenment to be and yet, you are present in part to what you are in this moment. The experience of awareness is just that, being aware of the physical, cognitive or situational from the sensorial body we live in as human beings.

Regardless of the understanding this brings us, this is all we have to work with: Sensation, awareness, possibility and movement.

We know what we are doing right now as the action of reading. What is the sensation? Can you identify your sensations of reading? What are they for you? Coming to know this involves a mindset of self curiosity which is a key trait of the path to enlightenment. Your eyes are moving, if you are cognitively in a focused state you are breathing a particular way using your diaphragm and lungs in a particular order. Your eyelids have a certain nature both in the amount of tension they are holding and how open or shut they are. The content you’re reading influences a certain amount of systemic bodily tension or relaxation.Is your brow furrowed? Jaw tight? All of you is reading and the sensations available for you to participate with are vast.

We have been practicing awareness of our sensations. Awareness of oneself is the second step in the path to enlightenment. Without awareness we do not have contact with the mechanism of sensation and it is the change in any one sensation that allows us to be something other than what we are in this moment. That is change. Awareness as we are now practicing it, fostered by my guidance, bringing your attention to yourself, is from where we begin to understand who we are in the world. For all intensive purposes I am part of your environment, writer and reader, self and other. Notice if you are sitting or standing. What part of your feet, legs, back are working on a muscular level to support your practice of reading? Noticing your environment of which we are never separate. Having awareness of our environment generates awareness of our sensorial self. When we notice our environment we have the ability to intentionally participate with our environment and ourselves. When we are having conflict with another, that other is our environment. When we feel a warm calming breeze, the other is the wind. We have access to many sensations that can guide us in changing the nature of the conflict as well as the ability to influence our environment and therefore ourselves. The combination of attending to your sensorial self as well as the other generates a relationship between the two which is seamless. When you work with the tension in your jaw, it will influence how you are speaking. With others, communication is often the vehicle for how we perpetuate the tension we call conflict. Noticing the tension in our jaw, practicing awareness, gives us access to possibility. For example if the conversation I am having influences me to tighten my jaw, I can notice the sensation of my tight jaw and if I choose, relax it. Then I am having a less tense conversation as I am holding less tension.

One of my favorite sayings is, “You can’t get there from not here.”. If it is change you seek to create, you must know where you are, how you are, to get to where your going to.

The mechanism we have access to that helps in developing our ability to have awareness is practicing awareness. Single pointed focus mindfulness meditation is the practice of awareness that generates a greater field of self and other awareness. This is what makes the second step of awareness a practice. The most common form of single pointed focus mindfulness meditation is breath awareness. The instructions is as you sit, know when you are breathing in and know when you are breathing out. Your intention is to just practice awareness of your incoming and outgoing breath.

When we have awareness of sensation then we have access to step three: possibility. In this conversation the understanding of possibility benefits from a simple theorem. If we are aware of a sensation such as a certain amount of tension in a certain part of our body- then we know there are other possibilities of sensations to be had. For example: I have been writing this, my neck is tense, I move my head and my neck to relieve tension. There was a sensation, neck tension. I have awareness of that sensation. I had a desire to create a different sensation and on a bodily level. I knew there were other more desirable sensations to be had, so I adjusted my head and neck. That is how we practice possibility. The more we involve our awareness and cognitive self in engaging possibility, the more we create the practice of possibility. This is the difference between reaction and practice. In practice we are with ourselves through the myriad of possible sensation as they become part of our awareness whereas reaction is when we move from possibility to possibility without participation with awareness. Inherent in this moving from possibility to possibility is the fourth step: movement.

Movement is the bodies vehicle to create change. In the simplest of ways our bodies are designed to move. Movement is the most basic defining element of life itself. Things that don’t move, are not living. This is true from the cellular level to jumping for joy.

Sensation, awareness, possibility, movement = change.

What are you feeling and where do you want to go?

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