The challenge of being conscious all the time is when you are faced with factors that are your typical hooks for bringing down consciousness. Examples of these times are when you don't realize how your worst comes out when a baby is bawling and there is nothing you can do about it. The challenge in life is to be able to observe and be aware at these times, it is then that consciousness rises and you can hold it so.
While the first challenge in being conscious of oneself is when one is in a meditative state. There is no outside stimulation, we have only to observe the mind's chattering amidst outer calm. But unless one is taking sanyas, there is constraint in this. As long as our work keeps us in this society, we have to be able to do the same observing amidst the worst of our hooks/habits, be it coffee, tobacco or plain old laziness. If not finding your morning newspaper or poor traffic sense can make you want to use 4 lettered words and you only realize later how easily you can get affected, Imagine this a hundred fold and not as an event but an ongoing process, 24/7. Most times we would not even realize that we get affected. We are caught up in a thought cycle which we don't even realize exists and which sucks out our energy.
Till finally survival becomes the goal and we are ground to death. An occasional spurt happens more as an accident and we are in the control of our thoughts not the thoughts on our control.
|Positive and Negative Thought cycles|
So what should one do? As I struggle to take care of a cranky baby, with loads of fear about how I will ever get back to being who I was before pregnancy, this question drives me mad. I become almost desperate not knowing what and how. As I discussed with friends and partners, I realize that what I have lost and what I miss is ‘consciousness’. The baby, - I have chosen to have wanting it in my life., aware that work will take a backseat for sometime.
Spending time with the baby – I have chosen with a desire for it. I have struggled hard and continue to struggle to be able to breastfeed her and in general take care of her.
Yet when it happens, I am unsettled, insecure, fearful. I seem not to be myself and am scared I will not be who I was. And then the cycle starts. I move from holding on to the baby to wanting to be away from it, get upset with people for nothing, expect the sky to be given to me on a platter for going through this – the works. As I put effort to observe myself, my behaviour, my mind, my heart. I understand that the biggest thing that I had earlier and I don’t have now is Consciousness, well atleast some of it. Slowly, I relax simply because I am able to see this pattern in me. I see how everytime the baby cries my heartbeat soars, I see how in that moment that I am not able to settle the baby down I blame myself, I call myself incompetent, stuck up in the mind, not a good mother and so on. This only makes me feel even less confident and consequently makes the baby cry louder and there goes the cycle again and again. This realization, I hold on to as tightly as I would hold on to my breath if I were suffocating. I struggle to hold this in the mind and observe when it happens (the baby cries often enough for me to practice this anyway!). Finally I feel the grip of the cycle relax a bit. With a little bit of struggle, I slowly notice more and more in the baby, environment around me and most importantly my own mind.
At this moment I believe I am being more conscious as more of me seems to be freely engaging with the world around me. At some point it hits me that the real challenge is to live this consciousness everyday, all the time. It may be a fact that I am unable to do the things I used to do earlier to stay conscious like meditate, dialogue, read up, etc. But it is possible to do every small thing with consciousness - fully aware of what is happening in me when I do it and knowing that I am doing it because I choose to do it and thus love every small bit of it.
Looking back at the process, I see that The progression has been from noticing the behaviour, observing the mind, sensing the movement of energy in me from one feeling to another, till the point where the consciousness has slowly emerged and insights start coming. On the other hand, if I had not figured out that it was Consciousness that I was missing, I might have resented the baby for not giving me time, I would have complained to everybody who listened that I don’t have any time for myself (and then when people got bored listening to me, I probably would have resented people for not listening to me!) and so on, making my life and everybody’s life miserable. I would thus go away further and further from my purpose.