Ria Steele photograph

Awareness - Living Awake or Asleep?

By Ria Steele

It has been a little while since I sat down to actually write. I became well "aware" about a year ago, that just because things have changed in my life, and I do not sit down on a daily basis and come up with 2 or 3 new poems, or several pieces of writing a day...that I am still very much a writer and poet...and it continues to be my hearts work. Yet life is an ever flowing river moving along whatever path each of one of us is destined for, and as we flow and change things we do, we do not do, our feelings about life, and everything we do continues to change just as the tides of the oceans pull, push and always change the sands along the beaches.

It took me well over 2 years to "accept" the facts...I have NOT lost my ability to write, and in fact I have not even "misplaced" it...my writing and poetry have now started to also come out in different ways...like the web site designs and graphic art I do. Those are also much like writing, and they "sing" to other people in many ways like my poetry and writing do.

Writing also has taken a new "shape for me, as I use that term loosely. For years, as I trudged through the pain, the aloneness, the mental, physical, and emotional horror of my past years, before making some huge changes in my own life; the poems and writing often reflected what I dreamt about for my future, about the love of my life that I felt would come someday when it was time for him to arrive (and he did :)...from the depths of my heart and soul much of my writing was almost like a plea to myself, to "wake up", look around, and become "aware" only "I" had the power to change what pain I was in....if I wanted something different, I could not set around wishing for it. The power we too often give other people over our lives is where we make our own mistake. The moment you allow someone to "make you happy" you are in for disappointment and heartache. Those feelings of "if I make my Mom proud", "if I get that raise at work I want", "if I can buy that new buy", "if I am pretty enough for my husband, he will love me more" and so forth, you have given all of your power over to those people all around you...then if something happens to your "perfection" you always "fall" disappoint someone, then you are upset, and they have won once again...for they hold the keys to the power over you.

I had started to try and understand this about 3 years ago. It never occurred to me, the term for this was "awareness". One must "wake up", know what is truly going on all around you, and not walk through life "asleep"...Much like I have written about when I say "Drive your own life" "Take the Wheel and Drive Your Own life"...those are the same things. For instance, if you are on a long trip, and a dear friend is driving; you may like your friend a great deal, but despise their driving. Maybe they drive too reckless, too fast, too slow, or something they makes you fretful about the trip. If you get behind the wheel and change places, and you are driving, then you are totally comfortable with your own speed, your own driving abilities, and now the power your friend had over you, while they were "behind the wheel", is no longer an issue, for you are now in the comfort zone of driving.

Life is the same in many ways. Once we "take the wheel" we become more confident in our own abilities, we become more aware (for you cannot drive with confidence if you are asleep), and no one else has that "ultimate power" over us for we are more or less the one in charge of our own life.

Without "awakening" to the knowledge of what your own life is all about, most of us sleepwalk through life, not "seeing", not "hearing", not "smelling, nor tasting what this journey here is all about. We give entirely too much credit to family, spouses, friends, bosses, jobs, kids, neighbors, friends, and anyone who comes into our pathway. So, it seems everyone "has a piece of your life"! NO wonder we feel totally out of control most of the time...you are out of control, if you have handed it over to everyone around you.

I just read a wonderful book written by Anthony DeMello, called "Awareness". He has now passed away, but the book talks a great deal about being "Aware". As I read the book, some things really struck me about my own life...and much of what I have done in my past. Even about the word we use "I"...I feel this, or I want that...if you stop and think about it..."I" does nothing..."I" did not feel something...but "the person themselves feel something"...He talked about once we take credit for OUR OWN happiness, OUR OWN mistakes, our own life... we find we are never alone nor lonely, we are in control...and the only way we can finally reach these ideas is to "WAKE UP"...not with Eyes Wide Shut. yet with our eyes, minds, hearts, and souls totally awake and able to truly be aware!!!! It is a concept most of us need to take in consideration.

We spend our lives from the time we are young, being taught to "impress others". He called it a form of "brainwashing"...as harsh as that is...in many ways he is correct. We are taught in order to "be"...you must impress others, from teachers when we are in grade school, to being the person your friends "like", to being the best runner, the best cheerleader, the "best something" for without that you won't be happy, liked, loved and so forth. We are praised for those things, yet even as adults we are often "scolded" when we don't live up to others expectations, thus comes, "I am worthless", I am stupid, people don't care about me, I am not good looking enough, and so forth. Our own inner self-worth flies out the window, well it is because you allowed those that praise or scold to have the power over your own self-worth...so they basically take away your views about life...and you are either happy, sad, depressed, hating yourself, loving yourself...all based upon what someone else says, does, and so forth. What a joke! If you think about this, is this how you want to live your life?...allowing everyone else to have that ability "like you are some kind of puppet, they pull your strings" and you "feel" according to their likes, dislikes, and feelings, not your own values, feelings, and your own self- worth.

As you ponder over the last paragraph, really "wake up", be aware and think about how often others "dictate" how you feel about yourself. If your boss says, you messed up something at work, do you allow those words to make you feel "worthless", "stupid", "I can't do anything", "I am just a bad employee" and so forth? Why???? You have given the boss, and the job power over your life! Why would we do that? Because we have been "programmed" to view who and what we are by how other people "see" us...bull!!!! Just because you "mess up" something at work does not constitute you feeling "less than", "stupid", "not good enough"...YOU ARE HUMAN...YOU WILL MESS UP!!!! That does not mean you are any of those things...you are worthy to be respected, to be loved, and so forth and you must feel that inside of your own self, without outside people, things, and events making you feel that way.

If you were a wonderful tennis player for instance, and all around you people praised you, friends adored you, everyone commented on how awesome you are as a tennis player! Those "kudos" from others probably made you feel "on top of the world"... then all of a sudden something happens, and for several weeks or months you go down hill for a little while as far as winning and playing tennis. Suddenly all that praised you, began to ask you, what is wrong, you can't play tennis, you have lost the winning streak, and so forth, would your feelings change to "I am awful", "I can't play", "I am no good", and so forth? If they would, then those people have "pulled your strings" once again to allow you to feel one-way or the other. You have given them that power! But if you "drive your own wheel", then your own self-worth would stay intact, you would not "beat yourself up" about not winning for a few weeks, realize that you are just having a bad streak for a little while, go own to continue to play, practice, and once again be a good tennis player. Not because others "say" you are but because inside you "know" you are.

As I write this believe me "I am preaching to the choir", for all of this applies to me also. But, you must become "aware" of these things before you can begin to change them.

Depression, anxiety, stress...I would venture to say those three things are the number one through three reasons, people are getting ill more than ever in our country. With the high expectations we allow others to put on us, from "in order to be successful, I have to have this or that...new car, new house, better boat, all of the "toys and material" stuff, or I am not "successful"...what a bunch of crap...NOTHING MATERIAL, has one thing to do with "success"...beside what is "success" anyway???? You can be a "success", when you are a housewife, a garbage person, or anything you choose, or choose not to be in life. What type of job you work at, what kind of house, car, boat, and such you have does not mean you are successful or not. Inside you must be happy...truly happy inside...without all of those "things"... for things come and go...houses can be gone, cars wear out, all of the material things can disappear...and if you are happy inside without them, then you have won half the battle in truly being "awake"...in your life. But, if you thought that if you "lost"...house, car, furniture, and so forth, your life would be worthless...and you would be miserable...then guess what??? THOSE THINGS ARE RULING YOUR LIFE!!! How silly...and how crazy is that really...to allow houses, cars and so forth to rule your life...that is nuts...

Yet we are a nation of stressed out, anxiety ridden, miserably depressed people.what is more sad about it...WE HAVE IT BETTER THAN JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER NATION IN THE WORLD...yet we are the most stressed, and dying more each year from stress related diseases...heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, cancer, lupus, depression...every where you turn, you here more and more about younger and younger people having heart attacks, strokes, cancer.. Why??? Stress!!!! Stress breaks us down...our bodies, our minds and our spirit. and then we are more susceptible to all of those diseases....think about those around you...the things you hear on the news...people are getting sicker at younger ages...most of which is due to the high, almost impossible levels of stress we choose, and notice I said "choose" to live under. We are the ones that make the "choice" to either work and live in high stress situations or not. We choose to climb the corporate ladder or not. We chose to buy that bigger house, nicer car, and so forth or not.

What is it about Americans in particular that make us think "If we don't "keep up with the Jones', then we are "les than"?....total crap....just totally ridiculous, yet many of us do just that everyday....and who is miserable, stressed, and suffering from it? You are!!!

"Awareness", the book, opened my eyes and mind to many things...of course some of which I may not agree with that Anthony DeMello wrote about (by the way this book was based on his workshops, and retreats he gave)...but much of it I can apply to either my past, or my life now. Some of the things I already had made much change in, and some I realize I have been walking around "asleep" about and allowing people and the world around to "control my wheel". In order for us to get over things like sadness, grief, depression, despair, and so forth, first we have to "face" that we are feeling that way. If you are depressed, you must acknowledge you are feeling depressed, let it flow through you, and know it will pass. The same way with all other feelings, and emotions...they come and go...so you need to acknowledge all of them then let them run their course instead of "fighting" against how you feel, and those feelings will certainly pass, and you can understand they are fleeting, but once again they will happen, and the pattern will be again. As soon as you "fight" saying I don't want to be depressed, I refuse to grieve, and so forth, you have given the power over to feelings, and they most assuredly will haunt you...you must say okay, in this moment I feel this or that...but later understand it will pass....

Mr. DeMello said so many things, but I will not go into much of it. I feel what I have said is enough to get you to start thinking about your own "Awareness" or lack of it. The one other thing he talked about that struck me as so incredibly funny, yet when I think about it, it is really the truth.

He said when someone comes up and tries to criticize you over something, just tell him or her, "Hey I'm an ass". In other words you are telling them you are not perfect, you do make mistakes...and if they want to be upset with you, then "You're an Ass...and you know it. But he went one step further with this, when you think about it, we are all "asses". All of us at one time or another do things wrong, or use people and so forth...so to lighten the situation... not only are you an ass...but he says "I'm an ass...and You're an Ass...:) I laughed so hard at first I almost fell out of the bed reading this...yet as I thought about it...it really makes sense plus it takes away the "beating myself up"...if you view yourself and others the same...human, make mistakes, and so forth...you realize nothing is wrong with them...but nothing is wrong with you either...everyone is an ass at times...so that puts everyone on an even playing field....

All in the entire book gave me new insight to things about my own self...which was definitely needed. Of course as with any type of book, we stand in agreement with some of it, and the other parts we may not view as being something that pertains to our own selves. I think many of us get too "hung up" in the self-help books. You have to read them objectively, not look at everything in them as the "gospel" but pick out some of what pertains in your life, and try and apply what you feel may help you.

I close now with not that this piece of writing, "tis finished", but a beginning of again another wonderful winding journey of my life.

copyright 2006, Ria Steele

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