Conscious Life

A Blog on Personal Development for Awaken(ed/ing) Souls – by Tim Stanek

Category: Paradigm Shift

Defining Identity, Flexibly Part II

Greetings Friends!

For this post I am drawing on a few ideas I wrote about in Defining Identity, Flexibly Part I. (In which I talked about the difference between permanent and impermanent identities, and also the difference between national and galactic identities. I was going through a time where I was very interested in understanding how different national identities influences the politics and ethos of different regions of the united states, so most of my time was spent explaining that, and applying it as a metaphor for inner thoughts and beliefs.)

This leads me to question to what extent we are a result of our surroundings and to what extent we control our conscious evolution.

My Story
I was given the rare opportunity to be born on the east coast, the son of two New Yorkers and then, when I was 10, relocating with my family to Memphis, TN. I specifically remember the day when my first buddy down here convinced me to wear my hair down and stop slicking it back the Sicilian way that my grandfather had taught me. After that I played a long game of trying to fit into Southern culture. I found music, which was quite liberating given the nature of the open-minded people who frequented the local jam-band scene.

But when I really wanted to follow my natural creative tendencies, I hit resistance. My band mates kept wanting to play the more traditional Southern rock tunes that I never really resonated with. At the time I also heard Dubstep for the first time, and wanted to incorporate more electronic elements into our music, but my band mates resisted. I spent many, many years clinging to the idea that I could change them somehow, when really I was simply too frightened to let go of a creative relationship that no longer served me.

I remember back in 2010 I was coming back from a gig with Mojo Possum (one of my “possum” bands: the other was called “Copper Possum”). It must have been past three in the morning; so I was playing in bars til past three and getting up for school the next morning – looking back I let myself indulge this poor self-care routine because I thought it was cool to “burn the candles at both ends”. This was at a time when I knew that I had stopped enjoying playing in Mojo Possum, yet I was clinging onto our weekly thursday gig at Newby’s because I didn’t know of another way to make money. Earlier that week I had found a walking stick that terminated in a “Y” shape and leant it up against the side of my rental apartment; I thought it looked cool and intuitively felt like it was spiritually significant somehow. When i arrived at my house, lo and behold, situated squarely between the two branches of the “Y” was a large American Opossum aka “Possum”. This was no ordinary Possum though; most Possums will hiss and defend themselves if approached. No, this one just hung out there, looking around like a buddhist monk, seemingly content to hang out on the stick. When I approached it, though, I could see that it was very sick. I stood there with the Possum for a while, wishing that I didn’t have to experience such an obvious sign from the universe that my time with Mojo Possum was coming to an end.

Permanent vs Impermanent Identities.
My time as a blues musician is what i consider an impermanent identity, but I can still play the blues. My time as a student was an impermanent identity, yet i still retain a good amount of the information that I absorbed in that time. The only permanence that I feel like I experience in this case is the permanence of being myself as a changing and evolving being – which, paradoxically needs to include what I’ve learned from previous identities.

It’s almost that, in order to get the lessons from an impermanent identity, we need to pretend like it is permanent in order to let it sink in. We must fully commit to playing that part, like an actor in a movie. In order to play the part well, we need to be convincing. By the way, only choose parts that you are interested in and that you know you can do well. Sometimes it can be hard to see for sure which one that will be, but trust your gut – trust your intuition. You can do it! You can make the right choices for you! But when it becomes time to let it go, don’t cling to it. Just get the lessons and move on.

Nature Vs. Self Nurture in Identity
I use the term “self-nurture” to imply that as a conscious adult one has the ability to nurture oneself (not implying only self-care, but also consciously seeking out the nurturing of others in a self-directed kind of way). Our nature, one could say, is our roots and learned programming. Most people go through their entire lives without questioning who they are, or why they do the things they do. Behavior is learned, and so many want to take advantage of that process through self-directed learning.

I would put forth the idea that by combining nature AND self nurture, we can be a more complete human being: ourselves.

Here’s the gist of it: until you take control of your life, of your growth, of your habits, then you will be operating based on your conditioning: whether it be familial, societal, or something else. You will grow up thinking that you are just a cog in a machine that wants you to do something. True, there will be many ideas and paradigms imposed upon you. You have the choice to accept or reject these paradigms, but most, especially as children, decide to accept it. Where growth stops is when, as a conscious adult, we choose to continue to blindly accept the story that is imposed upon us. It can be a conscious choice, in which case I totally respect the choice of that individual. It just saddens me to see people give up their divine creative gifts to become what society, or family wants them to be.

Here’s a wake up call: YOU  have the power to make a choice and start living life more consciously. Grow. Educate yourself. Improve your skills, happiness, and awareness. Surround yourself not just with positive people, but with people that are real with you and, when asked, can tell you what they see, both positive and negative. It can be hard once you start questioning things that you may have built dreams upon – such as a car, house, a spouse, and a couple kids maybe. You can still have those things if that’s what you really want, but let it be your well-informed choice, not just a default.

I think that many people, myself included, have fallen into the trap of thinking “Oh, here’s what society/my parents/my culture wants me to be, so I’ll be that.” and then wonder why they feel unfulfilled. Again, I’m not speaking to the people who have found fulfillment in following these paths – I am speaking to those who feel like there’s something more that they are missing. And what is it that is missing from the equation? YOU are! You, as a fully realized human being, resplendent in your full potential. YOU, as a spirit in a body, creating a unique signature in all that you do. YOU, living happily, taking responsibility for your life, and realizing your dreams.

So where do you start? You have to want it. You have to realize that, in order to grow and develop yourself – your soul – you will have to stand up for who you are. Stop surrounding yourself with people who hammer you into something smaller than you are. Stop agreeing to someone else’s dream for you, if that’s not what you want. 

If you’ll join me in this journey of self-discovery, I can help you to deal with the consequences – which is a greater self-understanding, and taking more responsibility for every aspect of your life. Complaining only helps in that it helps us to identify the parts of our lives that we need to be taking more responsibility for. This isn’t just a short-term goal or mission – although it can include short term goals. I’m in it for the long game. I’m in it for the self-enrichment with ideas, knowledge, understanding, so that I can cultivate my soul and create myself as a divine being here on earth.

What are the tools, what are the rules of this game? Essentially, if it works, it is true, and the rules are that you must be in integrity with all life. I wish I could more clearly define the “rules”; maybe that’s another post for another time! But suffice it to say that most spiritual practices agree on a few different aspects of what divinity is – it’s likely that the “rules” (or guidelines 😉 ) that span cultural and continental divides are the ones that will take guide you to your true self.

As always, efficacy is the measure of truth.

Much Love,

Tim

The Power of Choosing Seclusion

Are you the type of person to seclude themselves when things get hairy? Do you prefer to chill at home instead of socializing? I know I do. It’s easy to get into a pattern of seclusion as a default, but when it is chosen consciously with intention, it can really enhance ones quality of life.

Seclusion for seclusion’s sake sucks. Because I spent so many years in seclusion – isolation – emotional and sexual anorexia – it became a default modus operandi for me. But I’ve had the opportunity to do much inner work on myself (most notably with regards to the emotional and sexual anorexia), and so I have grown into a man who can now enjoy seclusion when it is chosen purposefully.

Sound familiar? Lots of empaths and introverts experience this (These two qualities are different things, but they often run hand in hand). I consider myself to be both. An empath feels deeply the feelings of others, which is a wonderful quality to posses. It becomes a burden, though, if that empath starts to look outside of themselves to figure out how to feel about something. This is very common in situations where that empath has dealt with or is dealing with great personal and emotional struggles and is unable to establish a sense of serenity within.
Balanced seclusion
I am an author, and a composer. To be alone and creative is absolutely wonderful. However, I have noticed recently that as a default empath, because I am human and still require social situations and basic human affection, I have to take charge of getting these needs met. For example, yesterday I chose to work on Igby (like my page!) for a few hours. It was great! I’m almost done with the first section and it is ridiculously exciting. But after a while I felt emotionally unfulfilled. Checking in with that emotion revealed that it had nothing to do with the book at all – I was just needing human love and affection – I was feeling lonely. There are times when I question the way that I am feeling in favor of accomplishing a certain task, but again, that had always been my modus operandi. It felt as if questioning the way I felt in favor of completing certain tasks was how I was trained to operate in school and college, so to question that paradigm is extremely empowering for me. So what I did is I hit up a friend from acro whom I look up to and asked if he wanted to grab a beer. Simple! Easy! All it took was me reaching out. As a deep thinker I often overthink things, and make social situations heavier than they actually need to be. I think this also has to do with a propensity towards intensity in relationships that I garnered by being raised by an emotionally intense mother. What this means is that I often look past normal, healthy human situations in favor of a more emotionally intense one, resulting often in a seeming unbalance in, for example, basic human affection versus intense romantic desire.

So to choose seclusion is super empowering for me right now. I went out, had a beer with friends, and got some normal human affection. I changed my approach to the whole situation, which ended up turning out beautifully. Instead of showing up and putting out a “I need affection” energy, I showed up genuinely interested in having a good time and adding value to the group. I used to do this until I’d feel drained, which was a problem. Knowing when to withdraw is an important skill. As an author and an introvert, it’s easier for me to seclude myself and build up energy that I can bring to social situations. This stuff is precious!!! Don’t squander it. Pour it over people that you genuinely care about, and who have demonstrated that they genuinely care about you. I showed up and gave away 4 quartz crystals that I had mined from the ground in Ida, Arkansas. It was a simple gesture, but I wanted to give something. Crystal gifting used to be a way for me to create covert contracts with other people (in a mafioso kind of way i.e. “I gave you this crystal now you owe me a favor, etc). But that’s not my intention anymore. I felt genuinely motivated to gift these crystals to people with whom I already had established relationship.
We all talked for a while, ate, drank, and laughed. It was a great time! You know what? I went home inspired, and full of energy, ready to write.

Active Seclusion.

Seclusion, for an introvert like me, should effectively recharge the individual. We power up our emotional batteries by taking care of ourselves. This is an active seclusion, where we are present and enjoying the process. If you need to be lazy, just enjoy it, mk?

For someone who grew up with low-self esteem, this part of the process can be terrifying! You mean i have to actually take care of myself? I thought that if I create enough covert contracts that someone will come along and be obligated to do it for me?

Wow, this one is huge. I struggled with this one for years and years. The truth of my experience reveals that, yes, there will be people in your life who genuinely want to meet your needs, and it is important to reach out and cultivate relationships where you are guided, empowered, and nurtured by parental figures in your life. But these people will provide this value to you becuase they want to, not because you obligated them through covert contracts.

It takes bravery to get your needs met if you’ve lived your life with the impression that you are unimportant – less than – unworthy. Mentorship can really help too, so find yourself someone who has been through a similar situation and model their behavior! Tip: make sure that your mentor is in a place of genuine giving so there is no room for obligation. They have to want to play that role for you.

Please use this post to spur new ideas about self care and the energy dynamics of active seclusion and social giving. Introverts, unite! separately, in the privacy of our own homes. Just kidding. Introversion is a fulltime position, but if we embrace it, we can bring a lot of unique value to the world, most notably, the value of being our happy selves.

In Love,

Tim

The Fallacy of Good Citizens, and Re-Framing Love vs. Sex

Checkin’
I’ve been able to get excellent feedback on a poignant cause of recent consternation. Essentially my lesson has been this: that I had put up a rigid mask of how I thought society needed to perceive me in order to be accepted (validated). This was made readily apparent to me when I showed up to a counseling appointment in a button up shirt that was too tight to be comfortable. I mentioned that I was going to the bank after our appointment, and stated that I always dressed up nicely to go to the bank. I didn’t understand why. My counselor, a pragmatist, checked me and said that all I needed to go to the bank was money!

This shift of perspective helped me to unravel a deeply ingrained belief that if I dress up and present myself as a “good citizen”, then I will somehow make it, or be successful, or be validated.

Ok: let’s explore this.

Good Citizen
My subconscious’ definition of “good citizen”: someone who is under the radar, free from contempt and scrutiny. I found scrutiny to be soul crushing in my adolescence, particularly when I was continually under scrutiny for smoking weed and watching porn. These two activities were my escapes. I needed them to cope with a dysfunctional family environment.
My parents, both raised catholic, shamed me for not following the rules. Furthermore, they couldn’t figure out how to stop my behavior, which to them was totally aberrant. I understand their frustration: I was escaping and medicating from their toxic codependency, which they didn’t have the perspective to see. When grounding me didn’t work, instead of re-evaluating their approach, they simply grounded me for longer periods of time. Dammit! I wish they were more creative, or willing to go outside their box and be cool with me as a person, but neither was in a place to do that.
I remember getting caught one time, after many warnings to stop smoking pot, in which I was grounded for 5 weeks. This seems cruel to me. Instead of reaching out for help, my parents chose to perpetuate their frustration at not being able to control my behavior by enacting lengthy punishment. I guess they had a lot to deal with, but it made me feel pretty fvcking worthless; like I was an afterthought. I still feel echoes of the resultant anger to this day – it’s something that I’m working through and I feel like I’m coming towards the end of it, thank the maker. It was soul crushing. During that time I was not allowed to see any friends outside of school. I was forced to remain in physical proximity of a toxic family environment; I had to escape somehow, so porn and video games did the trick for me. I used porn to medicate my feelings of complete unworthiness, and video games to escape from the tangled web of emotions I felt. Some Saturdays I would spend 10 hours playing games. The upside of this is that I was able to really get into a video game whose music influenced me greatly in my compositional works (Timo).
I want to make a note here that my parents are not terrible people – they did some dumb stuff and made some poor parenting choices. this was around fifteen years ago, and they both have evolved and grown as individuals since. I do not condone their actions, but I understand where they were coming from. I’m not writing about these experiences to shame them or to get back at them. It’s not about them! It’s about using the benefit of experience to rise above difficult circumstances of my past in order to greater understand the man I am now, and give credence to the lessons that showed up initially as great pain, thereby dissolving them in effect. Furthermore, to help to validate those with similar experiences as a way of encouraging self-growth and reflection.
The greatest frustration that I experienced when I started trying to make sense of this time in my life was the feeling of being handicapped by their negligence, and having to play catch up to the rest of the world. It wasn’t fair. At first I would use coldness and sternness as a way of punishing them for their actions. I’m in a different frame now – they are my birth parents and we’ve shared many experiences, but my growth and life is my number one priority and responsibility. They reach out occasionally, but I’m often too busy creating the life of my dreams to interact on a more intimate level. Which is how it should be. I never want my parents to reach out to me for intimacy again. My covert contract with them was “If I’m a good son (citizen) and validate your problems and love you then maybe you wont hurt me emotionally or physically and actually validate and encourage me”. Nope. They weren’t capable of that kind of role, because no one did that for them! That’s why they were so needy and dependent on me. I’ve always had a big heart and as a loving child I wanted to make things better for them (a common behavior in children). What a responsible self-aware parent would have done would be to, in situations where I wanted to make things better for them, let the child know that what they were going through was ok and that parents experience difficulty sometimes and that they were dealing with it in a healthy and responsible way, instead of looking to a yet-unformed child to provide comfort or validation. I would have liked this kind of reassurance, but I never got it.

Fvck.

So “good citizen” is a mask – a paradigm – that I began to adopt after a while as a way of safe-guarding myself from further pain and cruelty. It is was paradigm in which I would create a covert contract. A covert contract is a way of behaving in which indirect actions and positioning are used as a way of getting needs met, instead of directly asking for what one needs. This can be conscious or unconscious behavior. The more I become aware of my self, my programming, and my conscious behavior, the more I can understand where these covert contracts exist in my life and dissolve them.

A Time-Consuming Lesson: AKA Avoid this trap!
The most time-consuming lessons that I’ve experienced have dealt with dating and intimate relationships. Several years back I became very close with a female friend and spent a ton of my free time with her – which was in short supply because I was in school and playing gigs during the week and on the weekends. My covert contract is essentially this: I spend time with you, validate you, take care of you, and you have to validate me, emotionally and sexually. It’s an indirect way of getting needs met, which often leads to disappointment.

We spent much time together, months and months, until I asked if I could kiss her. She turned me down. I was crushed! My thinking: What? I just invested so much time into you and you won’t even kiss me?

Well, why should she? Firstly, it’s a choice. She made a choice, and it’s totally fine. Secondly, we had been operating on the premise of close friends, and nothing more. Why should she feel obligated to do anything? My covert contract operating system said “I’ve spent all this time for you, you should now validate me”. I can see the insanity of the whole situation now, but at the time I could not and it was incredibly frustrating.

That was then, this is now
Recently I was able to go from trusting friends to cuddle buddies to making out to non-monogamous sex play partners with someone I was attracted to in…about 2 weeks. How did I do this?

It might seem counter-intuitive to someone whose life is riddled with covert contracts: I was direct!

After hanging out and establishing a friendship of trust and communication, I asked Q:”Can I put my arm around you”. A: Yes. (sexy voice:) Q:”Can I kiss you?” A: Yes.

This was after feeling out the vibe and internalizing her body language towards me. Still, it was a risk that I took. I could have been turned down, for any various reasons, but I wasn’t.
After we made out, we talked about what we like sexually, what we want to explore, what we want to try. We arranged a date to do it, and voila! It was a very fun and *ahem* stimulating experience!

I’m really proud of myself for going outside my previous programming and asking for what I want. And LAWD let me tell you that the things we talked about doing are as far off from 10 minutes of vanilla, lights off, missionary sex play as creating a covert contract is from getting the juicy sex that you want.

The Heart Perspective and Sex drive
How does this tie in with my souls mission – with my heart’s song? The song my heart sings is the most important thing in my life. This recent sexual partner is cool, fun, and interesting. I am aware here that there is a subtle cognitive dissonance because my previous programming states that in order to follow my heart I must weed out every experience that is not in direct resonance with my heart. I challenge this assumption! I would put forth, rather, that following my heart is always the most important aspect of my life. The more I do this, the more I my inner being will change. Sex is a valid aspect of my humanity, and I will validate it and acknowledge it as I explore my sexuality with fun and pleasure, but nowhere in my new frame is there a mutual exclusion of love and sex.

The disparate aspect of a shame-based paradigm is that sex is somehow separate from the heart. Sin vs. salvation. I think it can seem that way, but there must be a more unified way of looking at it. If the heart is your center, then any kind of sexual experience can arise if you’re open to it. For me, old guilt and shame can also arise if sex is placed as the center of my life at the expense of following my heart. But following my heart can also include juicy sexual experiences.

The more that this paradigm shapes my reality, the more poly-dating seems functional. Poly dating for me isn’t really the focus here – it’s simply a model or tool that helps facilitate the growth experiences that I really want out of life right now.

Simply, if I operate life from my heart – the core of my being, life becomes fluid, juicy, and infinitely blessed.

How often do we as a society separate heart centered living from juicy sexual experiences? It’s easy to do so because of the prevalence of “sin shaming” in much of western religion. Lol. That’s another topic for another time.

Bless, always.

Tim

P.S. Hey if you liked what I have to say, let me know in the comments below! I welcome feedback, please be respectful. Peace!

Defining Identity, Flexibly.

Because the universe is measurably expanding (not contracting), and we are moving forward in time (not backwards), I too must be expanding and moving forward in time. I observe this through the phenomenon of growth and development, or evolution and expansion. My identity, therefor, must include the capacity for growth and expansion. 

When I define myself as a 27 year old man, this identity is temporary. When I turn 28, this identity will no longer apply to me. If I define myself as a young adult, it will last a bit longer, but still, it is a temporary identity.

Are there any permanent identities?

For the sake of clarity, yes, but keep in mind that I am choosing to frame the answer within a context of being helpful and understandable. In exploring thoughts such as these, it’s helpful to draw the lines around the context that we are examining. Without context, there are no permanent identities. Perhaps “permanence” itself is a human-made idea. There are identities that are much more permanent than others…but you can always zoom your perspective out to the point where we are looking at our entire universe as a speck of dust on the eyebrow of some giant sleeping space orca…or however you conceptualize eternity.

National Identity

What is important in examining the concept of identity is where we draw the boundaries.
In a national sense, my blood is of the nations of Sicily, Israel, Slovakia, and Poland. Note: A nation is a shared identity of people based on cultural norms and ways of being. It is not necessarily that which is contained within country boundaries. For example, the United States of America was founded initially by eleven distinct nations, each with very different customs and ways of life. This is why different regions possess strikingly different ways of life and political views.

Source: American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America Woodard, Colin.

Genetically, the peoples of the world hold no identifiable distinction in our genetic makeup. In other words, the human genetic makeup is the same in Asia as it is in Africa as it is in Europe as it is everywhere. There is a genetic difference in men and women however! (X and Y Chromosomes).

Global Identity

I believe that collectively we are birthing a global identity. Through the exponential advancement of technology, different cultural and national ideas are being released into the global soup, and, to use an Altucherian metaphor, they have idea sex.

Idea sex is based off of James Altucher’s method of consuming various seemingly disparate ideas and working towards the birthing of new ideas that would not have been possible without the idea sex.

I will expand the metaphor: in this example, cultural practices and ways of life are the differing ideas. When two seemingly disparate cultural practices meet in the global exchange (which, one could imagine, as an international lovers hotel), these cultural ideas mix, mingle, and if the mood is right, make love with each other. Naturally, some ideas get along better than others! Regrettably, as we’ve seen time and time again, some cultures rape and pillage other cultures (read: colonialism, slavery, genocide, etc).

So what is a more conscious approach? Take, for example, the culture of the Metis people in Acadia (Northern Maine and French Canada). When the area was colonized in the early 17th century by the French, the French officials established peaceful relations with the Algonquin, Mi’kmaq, and other native tribes. A cultural exchange was established in respectful terms, as desired by both parties. The resultant culture of Metis (literally “something that is half of one thing and half of another” in French) is the result of French trappers and hunters marrying and making love with Algonquin, Mi’kmaq women. Their culture is unique one, built on mutual trust and respect.

When two cultures come together in mutually trusting and respectful terms, then we often see the birth of identities that may have never existed before!

The Inner World

Now consider your inner world – your unconscious self. Inside, swirling just below the crest of awareness, are myriad untouched archetypes, existing continually until they bubble up or we call up on them. You are the world. What sort of world do you want to create? What are the nations (archetypes, ideas, etc) that exist inside of you? How can these cultures have sex and birth something new, exiting, and uniquely you? Furthermore, do you want to be a colonist, a slaver, or a murderer? Or do you want to allow the valid parts of your subconscious self the time, space, and respect that is necessary to birth a truly awesome, vibrant, aligned identity?

Galactic Identity

Woah, we just flew into outer space. This is getting way out there. If this is outside your comfort zone, skip this part. Is it possible that our galaxy is just one of many galaxies that house conscious beings? If so, how will we decide how to show up in the galactic stage? Right now I’d like to imagine that we are being watched and encouraged like young children learning to walk and talk. Once we get a few things straightened out, then maybe we will grow to the point where we will be ready to handle a galactic-sized exchange of ideas. Until then, let’s focus on our personal, local, and global identities with time, space, and respect, as new ideas birth, moving always towards respectful and mutually desirable exchanges with others.

Furthermore, let’s be flexible with our identities. Let’s allow who we are to grow and change and evolve. If you’re having trouble picturing this, look at who you were a year ago. Were you doing the same things? Thinking the same thoughts? Did you act the same way that you do now? If so, maybe you have some growing up to do! If you are acting differently, if you have grown, then acknowledge this growth. Give yourself some credit for how far you’ve come in a year. This isn’t a race, it’s a dance. Let’s move forward lovingly, respectfully, always open to the possibility of exchanging and growing. Even though the ego can get attached to an identity, remember, we are not the ego! Don’t fear the natural crystallization and dissolution of identity cycles. It’s part of the cool, forward-moving experience of being a human being.

 

What is an Awakened Soul?

Today’s question is just this: What is an awaken(ed/ing) soul? Disclaimer: while many of my blog posts will have research and verified conclusive evidence to support my claims, this one will have nothing more than “my own meandering experience” as evidence. Let the reader be ware! (edit: I do cite a small case study I did with about 10 people – but the rest is opinion)

Let us first examine the difference between the words”awakened” and “awakening”.
“Awakened” implies the process or event of awakening happened in the past. There is a sense of conclusiveness, of finality. “Awakened” describes the present moment, now, as living in the wake of the awakening process or event. Of the future, it speaks that we may also experience the wake of awakening – the latent effects of awakening.

The word “awakening”, on the other hand, implies that the process or event is ongoing; continuous; ever-unfolding. “awakening” means that something is happening in the present – the now moment. Of the future, it also speaks that we may experience the wake of awakening, but only if the “awakening” stops! If it doesn’t stop, then we won’t be experiencing the wake of awakening, we will be experiencing the awakening itself!

Make sense?

I conducted a small, informal survey of about 10 people in a yoga community, in a group of self-proclaimed empaths. I asked if they had always been this way, or if they had an “awakening moment”. The results? 25% said they had an awakening moment, while the other 75% claimed they had always been that way.

So what does that say about the difference between “awakened” and “awakening”?

It means that for some people, an awakening moment is a very real thing. It can be extremely useful in understanding our growth and building our unique life story in in that it orients our present selves to a past experience of self via memory. It’s something that we can tell people about to express our individuality and validate out life experience. This can be useful only in that we see how far we’ve come, and we can help others to work through similar situations that we’ve been through ourselves. This is the true value of experience-based mentoring.

My experience has been one of gradual awakening. I’ve had some incredible energetic moments through yoga, music, sex, and other consciousness expanding experiences, but I choose to view them as punctuation in my awakening story, not the story itself.

In truth, the past experience of self doesn’t really exist; only the memory exists. You cannot show me evidence that the past exists! You can show me a recording, or a photograph, but that only proves that the past once existed, as a now moment. This does not prove that the past exists now, and it is an important distinction to make. Memories can be so emotionally powerful that many people mistake a memory of who they were for who they are today. What is really happening is that who they are today (and their true potential) is drowned out by the emotional echo of a memory. You may say “Can’t it be both?”. Kind of…you can keep certain qualities that you like, and take on new qualities as well. This will get us into a debate about identity and how we define identity, which is another blog post entirely!

But be careful! It’s a trap!

Have you figured it out yet?   I hope to give you a koan to chew on that may spark further growth experiences, if you want it. 

An awakening moment is only useful if we use it to acknowledge how far we’ve come, or if we use it to help others in a similar situation. The trap lies in too often orienting your present self with the awakening moment in the past. If your attachment to your story of awakening overshadows growth opportunities in the present, then you’ve missed the point!

All this is coming from the perspective of my own love for growth and development. If you value, say, approval and comfort over growth and development, then by all means, cling to your story. Tell it to yourself over and over again, and maybe you’ll be able to drown out the valid parts of yourself that are now asking for your attention to take you on further journeys of growth and development. It’s ok if this isn’t for you. The conscious life is a hard road to travel! Many people just find it more preferable to go on lying to themselves. But as always, what you tell yourself about your reality – what you want believe – plays a big part in the reality you find yourself in (or, create!).

To awaken to anything implies that, before the awakening moment, we were asleep. I like to use the term “Unconscious”. Consciousness can see unconsciousness, but unconsciousness by definition cannot possibly see consciousness.

But we can see what is directly in front of us. We can experience how we feel, even if it’s a feeling of numbness. Let’s tune into the present moment now and let it tell us where we are, and, based on what we want to create in our lives, how to get to our next destination!

Maybe unconsciousness and consciousness can experience each other energetically in cosmically sexual growth situations. Maybe real learning is just a process of our unconscious patterns and beliefs coming to the bedroom to make love with our conscious selves. For someone like me who appreciates this growth process, it’s an orgasmic experience!

© Tim Stanek 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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