Our autumn issue is out now. We caught up with five of our readers to find out what awareness means to them. Dive on in to find out more…
Spirituality & The City
I guess that I must have been awake on 20th April 1988 but at 11am that morning I’d no clue what was about to happen that would change my life completely. I had a visitor who I knew well and we were just sitting together in my kitchen drinking coffee and catching up. Normal everyday things that happen all the time.
As my friend rose to leave she asked me if I would like a prayer before she left. Well of course I said “yes”. She came over and gently placed her hands on my shoulders. Immediately I was out of my body and seemed to be floating in a sea of the purest love. This love is indescribable but I knew that it was and is totally unconditional – it surrounds us all the time and is in every cell of our bodies. This love is in all of the natural world. It is in the trees and the grass and all the animals. It flows in the rivers and seas and the very stones beneath our feet. It has no limits and no judgement. Love, this sea of love just loves and deeply holds us in its gentle embrace.
It knows us completely, everything we do or say or think – but it never judges us. Love just is. I didn’t want to come back into my body, which I could see clearly sitting on the kitchen chair. But I knew that I had to. It was an inner knowing. So slowly and reluctantly, I began to return with such a sense of deep gratitude for everything. Eyes to see beauty in the middle of messiness. Ears to hear the music behind the words of shared pain and joy. My friend didn’t know what had happened and there were no words to even begin to communicate.
To this day there are still no words, just wonder and awe. Call the experience what you will. Some say a release of kundalini energy. Others say it was an “Adamic” experience. I can only say that in the intervening years the moment has never diminished. My journey is full of mountains and valleys just like all of us. Nobody has to live trying to get approval from others. I like this quote from Anthony de Mello’s book Awareness:
“A nice definition of an awakened person is a person who no longer marches to the drum of society – a person who dances to the tune of the music that springs up from within.”
My music stirs the sacred and positive in my life. Can you let your music do the same for you?
When we have the awareness of a problem, we can set about finding a solution but the first step is always awareness. Awareness of our surrounding environments – including the cities, towns and villages we live in – also leads to a greater level of understanding and fulfilment. Whether it’s a new restaurant, café, book, beach or friend that we have yet to be introduced to – we have the capacity to enhance our lives with the new potential we have to explore our environments in a richer sense through a newfound awareness. The potentials, solutions and adventures we seek are always around us and we sometimes only need to start with awareness and then listen within the gentle stillness of our own intuition to find the next step forward. This is something I am continually learning but also appreciating and understanding as I learn more about the wonderful culture, people and spirituality of Ireland. I also believe that as we change our perspectives and feelings that we have about our place, we can also change our experience of it. Life can be a wonderful process of learning, allowing and improving that everyone can partake in.
This feeling of total awareness came after a moment of despair and shame. I came to the realisation that I was dependent on a substance that did not serve my highest good. The substance which is the most socially acceptable and yet the most damaging finally broke me. The awareness came when I realised after years of feeling like I needed this to survive, that I could not only survive but thrive in a life without alcohol. There was a fear of having to rely on myself in situations rather than this party elixir; this turned out to be totally unfounded. I thought living alcohol free in Ireland would be tough but once I took the first step, each day, week and month became easier. I am so grateful for the awareness of being able to look at the bigger picture – to finally start living the life I always wanted.
One of life’s joys is tending to my little allotment. Crooked cobs I grew myself on crooked stalks. Nurtured spindly grass stretching green claws. An Aztec mystery for €3.99 with a picture of a smiling grandpa holding a pitch-fork on the packet. “Come on in, my amber waves of waving grain are great tonight.” Each corn cob probably ends up costing 50 euro given the time and effort growing it. Last time I had any awareness outside myself was when I ate this corn cob. Looking down at the chewed up remains, yellow imprints of tooth-marks in a fibrous mass, perfect craters representing the petty ravages of human teeth, I realised they were the same as any other animal’s tooth-marks, that I was an animal and that I would die, and there was some comfort in that. Awareness for me comes from knowing we are all the same – energy moving through a life trying to create meaning.
I remember it was around my 30th birthday, I was living an easy and comfortable life. I had everything I needed and I was totally sure that I was living the life I wanted. At the time I was working as a sales assistant and I remember I went to put a shoe box back in the storeroom. I was staring at the box and thinking about my life; was I living the life that I wanted or was I just scared to change it? That box symbolised my life and made me realise that I wasn’t creating the life I wanted for myself. A voice kept saying, if you want to change your life do it now and set your spirit free – so I did. I quit my job and I can say that I became aware that I own my life and I can live the life I want. When I am feeling lost or afraid, I go back to the memory of that box which makes me aware of who and where I want to be