~ by Mary Rocamora, M.A. ~
Many people have asked me about my choice of language in developing the awareness work. I have chosen specific words to be technical terms for the subjects taken up in each level of exploration. These terms evoke a direct recognition and felt-sense of the topics under discussion and ask you to respond by describing what things feel like to you. It keeps you focused at all times on your own inner experience, what feels true and right in the moment you are asked. By feeling into everything fresh and new, over and over, you will open up your inner access way and strengthen your trust in your own perceptions. As you become more practiced, you will become more discerning. In time, your inner authority takes the place of reliance on the insight of others.
Language is the container for the entire journey. Each level is laid out so that nothing significant is missed on the path. As one progresses, the terminology evolves so as to continue to contain the process by incorporating new phenomena to look for and new levels of subtlety and complexity to grasp. Everyone’s reportage also contributes to the container, because it enhances both our understanding of what is universal about exploration and process and what is unique to each person. The technical use of words, like pattern or ego, represents what we all experience, and our answers to the inductive questions represent our unique individual engagement with the process.
The most subtle and dangerous potential for distortion in awareness work is to allow the conceptual mind to take what has been seen or realized in the free state and turn it into a generalization or a belief. When that happens, exploration is terminated and a fixed answer becomes set in the mind. For example, we discuss this work with Mom, because we want her to “get it,” because if and when she does, the separation will evaporate and we’ll feel the love we know is there. Mom “gets it” a couple of times, and the connection is restored. Ego then hijacks these incidents, and that voice in your head says, “She’s getting it!” which is followed by great relief. Ego elaborates on this conclusion, saying “Mom is wiser than I gave her credit for,” and now we are projecting that all future conversations will be like that with her. But in awareness work, every moment is fresh and new, and we have to enter every conversation with Mom with no attachment, no expectations. We have to be ready to have the experience that will occur in THAT moment.
To offset this propensity of ego, this work utilizes the inductive method, which intentionally bypasses that kind of mental hijacking. Induction takes place when you are genuinely asked, or ask yourself, what something feels like to you. Initially, there are two steps to induction: first you will be asked what, and then you will be asked how you know. If you are asked to give an example of an old emotion, for example, and you say for you, it’s anger that answers “what.” Then you will be asked, how do you know? That will evoke a description of the qualities of that anger that you associate with “old.” This begins to train awareness to look for other emotions that feel “old” and makes you wonder not only why these other emotions feel old, but what an emotion in present time would feel like. In this way, awareness begins to expand to include new elements that come to mind. This is not a rote facilitation tool, but just an example of how you will be directed inward to your own answers, over and over.
Choosing a word like “pattern” gives our budding awareness something concrete to discover. Its assignment is to look for familiar themes, old emotions, a recognizable cast of characters, repetitious stories and the conclusions we draw about life. At the same time, we begin to see how to get free of our patterns, both in the moment we recognize them and over the long run. And once we see one pattern, others are more easily identified.
Words like “consciousness” have been avoided because there is a common conceptual association with that word. If the word “awareness” is used instead, it raises the question, awareness of what? We are taken directly to a suggested context: fear comes up in the presence of an older brother, for example. But how would one know if that emotion is “old?” If in the context of being with your brother, the fear feels old, then the next step is to see if it feels out of place in the here and now, is out of proportion in comparison to what is actually going on in the moment, and it makes us project, rationalize or get defensive. The word “consciousness” doesn’t as readily open things up in the way “awareness” does.
Following the term “awareness” even further, how do we recognize an emotion that is in present time, then? It feels spontaneous, appropriate to the situation, and doesn’t cause the kind of obsessive ruminating and deep, lingering pain that old emotions cause. And as this exploration proceeds, we are developing an awareness that there are two “contrasting states” of awareness, one when we are in pattern and one when we are present. The point of discernment is using the same context: being afraid of my older brother, and being present around him.
Naturally, a shared vocabulary emerges to describe the contrasting states of “free” and “trapped” awareness. As we characterize what ensues when we are in pattern and what ensues in the triggering context when we can stay more present, we will be articulating examples of the contrasting states in real detail. Now we are ready to intercept a pattern as it is about to launch. But standing at a choice point requires a new assessment: is there willingness to drop the pattern and stay present? And if there is resistance, can it be seen and can willingness be cultivated? Curiosity gradually takes the leadership role, and the essential elements of moving out of a pattern into a state of presence are visible and begin to move forward.
The language is intended to stimulate your curiosity, which is a natural quality of awareness. Curiosity is what draws us into the inner world and functions as a navigational tool. For example, looking at patterns seems pretty straightforward at first, but upon further scrutiny you will see that it is much more complex and far reaching. It also takes us beyond ourselves into an exploration of how each of us is tied to the collective ego patterns that keep our culture cohesive. What would it be like to be present when we were muscled by others’ expectations to do what we should? Curiosity takes us from uncovering the most accessible things, like patterns, to the most profound, like the phenomenological structure and nature of reality itself. It is also the motivating force behind a spiritual drive toward inner mastery.
When people voice objections to certain terms, I ask them what term they prefer, and why. Sometimes their choices stick, but more often, they realize their word isn’t as direct a pipeline to awareness as the ones chosen for the awareness work. The most important thing is to always be aware of your choice of words. Some are more feel-able than others, and it is a choice to use language that flows from the heart.