Genuine spiritual awakening has always been the pinnacle of human aspiration. If you’ve had even a glimpse of this profound spiritual potential, you know that an extraordinary, enlightened life is possible–a life filled with meaning and purpose, in which you have access to a seemingly limitless well of inspiration, wisdom, love and creativity.
So, why is that, for thousands of years, the supreme goal of spiritual awakening has been shrouded in mystery, believed to be accessible only indirectly through decades (or even lifetimes) of repetitive and often tedious meditation practice?
As a spiritual practitioner, it never made sense to me that spiritual awakening should be so inaccessible.
After all, spiritual masters East and West have always told us that the miracle of Awakened Consciousness already exists, fully formed, inside of each of us–that this luminous awareness is none other than our own true nature.
If this “spiritual nature” is truly who we already are, why would it be nearly impossible to gain consistent, ongoing access to it?
It was my pursuit of this inquiry over decades of spiritual practice and teaching that eventually led me to a discovery that turned my entire world upside down.
The context for the inquiry that gave birth to the Practice of Direct Awakening was a series of evolutionary laboratories I had the good fortune to participate in.
When I talk about an evolutionary laboratory, I’m not referring to a sterile environment where people in lab coats attach electrodes to the scalps of meditators. I’m referring to a place where dedicated spiritual practitioners come together and spend thousands of hours doing spiritual practice and experimenting with awakening.
It was in one such laboratory that this new way of approaching meditation and awakening emerged.
The unexpected discovery that gave birth to this new form of spiritual practice is that it is possible to meditate in such a way that enables us to tap directly into the infinite energy, intelligence, and freedom of enlightenment every time we practice.
Instead of doing practices designed to bring about a future moment of awakening, we can practice “being awake” right now.
It’s a subtle shift in approach. But it changes everything.
In order to begin this exploration of the approach to meditation I call “the practice of direct awakening,” I want to invite you to temporarily set aside everything you’ve already learned about meditation.
Not because I think what you’ve learned is wrong or that this approach is “better,” but simply because the approach I’m describing may have little or nothing in common with meditation as you’ve been practicing it—other than the outer posture of sitting still for a while every day.
For most of us, meditating means silently repeating a mantra or sacred word, or following our breath, or labeling our thoughts and feelings as they arise, or trying to become a witness of our mind.
But this practice is about something entirely different.
It is a practice of directly recognizing our Enlightened essence or what is often referred to as “awakened awareness” or “awakened consciousness.”
In other words, the Practice of Direct Awakening is an approach to meditation designed to bring us into the immediate and direct awareness of our true nature beyond the mind and ego.
It is not a practice we do now to prepare for a future moment of Awakening.
It is not a practice we do now in order to get better at something or to strengthen particular capacities.
It is a practice of being Awake right now. Of being Enlightened right now.
This is possible because Enlightenment is the discovery of who we already are. It is the discovery of our “true nature.”
The revolutionary proposition at the heart of the Practice of Direct Awakening is that you don’t have to wait for Awakening to happen to you. You don’t have to spend a lifetime practicing various techniques in the hope that one day you will stumble upon awakened consciousness. It’s possible to actually practice being Awake, or resting in your true nature which is always already Awake.
At the heart of this paradigm shift is the recognition that just as our ordinary, unawakened consciousness operates in predictable ways, awakened consciousness also functions in reliable, observable ways. And if you can observe and understand how the natural functioning of awakened consciousness works, you can learn how to practice stepping directly into it.
For instance, if you’ve ever had a moment of awakening, you probably noticed that awakened consciousness is fluid, flexible, open and at ease. It does not grasp after certainty. It does not identify with thoughts and feelings. It does not react mechanically to circumstances. And it is naturally aware of the vast open field of consciousness itself.
When you engage in The Practice of Direct Awakening, you practice all of these things in meditation. You practice letting go. You practice letting things be. You practice not clinging on to the mind, not grasping after certainty and not identifying with thought.
You practice simply being present, awake, and aware and not in reaction to what’s happening. You practice not holding out for a better future, not looking for enlightenment or fulfillment somewhere other than in this moment.
All of these and many other natural attitudes or dispositions of awakening are things that you and I can sit down for 30 minutes a day and practice.
When you do this, you’re practicing relating to your mind, your feelings, and this world in an enlightened way. Instead of waiting for enlightenment to happen to you, you’re practicing being enlightened. Instead of waiting to wake up, you’re practicing being awake. Instead of waiting for a spiritual explosion to break you out of the prison of the ego,you’re practicing being free in each moment.
Another way to look at this is that when you do The Practice of Direct Awakening, you’re creating daily opportunities for awakened consciousness to show up by practicing a way of being that only awakened consciousness can participate in. Your ego can’t do any of the practices I just described. But you can. And when you do, you’re making room for a profound mystery, an infinite dimension of being, to show up in your experience right now. What if awakening didn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process leading toward an ultimately unpredictable result?
What if, instead of spending the next 10, 20, or 30 years doing mindfulness practices, watching your breath or repeating mantras in an attempt to prepare for Enlightenment, you could engage in a daily practice that gave you direct access to Awakened Consciousness right now?
What if, instead of hoping for a lightning bolt of spiritual insight to awaken you sometime in the distant future, you could practice aligning with the limitless energy, intelligence and freedom of Enlightenment every single day?
If you’ve been struggling with meditation and other practices for any length of time, you may find that what I’m asserting sounds just too good to be true, or too easy to be genuinely transformational.
But, after teaching the Practice of Direct Awakening to thousands of people over the past decade, I can say with confidence that anybody with a sincere aspiration to Awaken can do this.
You can do this. It doesn’t have to take a lifetime to wake up.