"Awareness is conscious connection with universal intelligence. Another word for it is Presence: consciousness without thought." --Eckhart Tolle
Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend who attended the Consciousness Studies program at TGI with me. She was pleasantly surprised that in the six years since we graduated, there is more interest now in consciousness. Emerging from the stigma of pseudoscience, It is being studied and considered in new ways; a growing awareness of awareness.
Paying attention seems like a simple thing and yet, few of us are ever present. I'm most often lost in thought when stressed. This makes sense since emotions and stress trigger the sympathetic nervous system which can block access to awareness. Like an aperture on a camera, our perceptions shrink dramatically when stressed and we become less likely to notice what is really happening.
Learning to pay attention to attention is a skill like learning another language or playing an instrument. We can practice wherever we are, whenever we remember. We can ask ourselves simple questions like: what am I participating with? Where is my focus repeatedly going? What emotions are here that I don't want to feel?
By turning attention to attention, the question arises; who is noticing attention? The deeper "I" is the timeless "I am" outside of time and space. It never ages. It is only available in the present moment.
From a neuroscience perspective, the practice of bringing awareness to awareness rewires the brain and strengthens the prefrontal cortex which is able to hold opposing ideas without shutting down into dualistic or right/wrong polarity; it's curious. It simply sees compassionately, without judgment.
"The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness." Lao Tzu
"Paying attention is the most basic and profound expression of love." Tara Brach