awareness woman and man

Whole Being — Awareness as compared to Non-awareness

Aware­ness as com­pared to Non-aware­ness — not only is pay­ing atten­tion a chal­lenge, what we miss far out­weighs what we pay atten­tion to. Nev­er­the­less, it’s worth work­ing toward more awareness.

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Back before the pan­dem­ic, we decid­ed to take Darbella’s mom out to Red Lob­ster for a belat­ed birth­day lunch. And, bonus, I could eat lobster!

So I did. And I real­ly enjoyed it. And about half way through the meal I thought about being in Cos­ta Rica, and how dif­fi­cult it is to buy seafood, despite our liv­ing in a beach town.. And poof. There I was, gone — non-present. Un-aware.

A mundane example, for sure.

But an ages-old issue for Bud­dhists of all stripes. Aware­ness can only be moment-by-moment, because now is all there is. Of course, now can include think­ing about the future or rumi­nat­ing about the past — so long as you are doing so con­scious­ly.

That’s one on the main rea­sons to med­i­tate. Med­i­ta­tion, like noth­ing else, show us how eas­i­ly divert­ed our minds are. Rais­ing that diver­sion to con­scious­ness is being awake.

And then, there’s the whole issue of how little we are aware of in the first place.

Turns out that the men­tal process of per­ceiv­ing, and per­haps to a greater extentinter­pret­ing expe­ri­ence not only affects mood and moti­va­tion. It affects us at the cel­lu­lar level.

Bruce Lip­ton is a devel­op­ment biol­o­gist who has been writ­ing about this for decades. He writes that only 5% of dys­func­tion is genet­ic. The rest is the organism’s response to the environment.

Thus, –

For exam­ple, if an organ­ism “per­ceives” a stress that is actu­al­ly not there, the mis-per­cep­tion can actu­al­ly change the genes to accom­mo­date the “belief.”

Per­cep­tions” lie between the envi­ron­ment and cell expres­sion. If our per­cep­tions are accu­rate, the result­ing behav­ior will be life enhanc­ing. If we oper­ate from “mis-per­cep­tions,” our behav­ior will be inap­pro­pri­ate and will jeop­ar­dize our vital­i­ty by com­pro­mis­ing our health.

In oth­er words, what we per­ceive, and more impor­tant­ly, how we inter­pret what we per­ceive, is chiefly respon­si­ble for our health and well-being.

Today’s top­ic is aware­ness as com­pared to non-aware­ness. Anoth­er way of putting this is, the more aware we are regard­ing what we are think­ing and how we are inter­pret­ing our expe­ri­ence, the health­i­er we are. 

The more we “miss” (non-aware­ness), the more we think “stuff” is hap­pen­ing to us — we think we are gov­erned by “stuff” that seems to be out of our control.

Simple, right? Well, not really. The question is: if awareness is crucial, what, exactly, are we aware of?

Every sec­ond, the brain is being “hit” with 4 bil­lion sig­nals. Of those 4 bil­lion sig­nals, we are only aware of around 2000 bits of all that information.

Here’s a picture. Imagine it’s made up of 4 billion pixels.

awareness picture of moss, water, rocks

Now, let’s look at what the brain is actually conscious of. Remember, it’s 2000 bits. Here, the dot represents what we are conscious of at any given time.

Except it’s enlarged 1000 times, so you can see it.

What this pic­ture describes is this: we are un-aware of 99.999999% of the sig­nals hit­ting our brains.

So, let’s imag­ine you want to shift a behav­iour. You think about it and think about it. And you dis­cov­er that noth­ing changes. Why?

Because the “reasons” for the behaviour are likely buried in the “missed signals.”

Let’s do an exper­i­ment: answer me this — what does what your butt feel like, right now? Hadn’t been aware of your butt before I asked, had you? Despite the fact that your butt nerves were send­ing mes­sages to your brain, your brain chose not to bring it into your awareness.

Until you chose to pay atten­tion to your butt. You are what you attend to. All the rest is some­where in the background.

Here’s the killer: The vast majority of your “rules and beliefs” about how to be are buried in the 99.999999% “cloud of un-awareness.”

These are the things I call Rock beliefs in my book, Liv­ing Life in Grow­ing Orbits. They are firm­ly fixed beliefs you cre­at­ed out of thin air. Once you made them, they fad­ed into uncon­scious­ness, yet con­tin­ue to deter­mine your behav­iour, out of your con­scious­ness.

If you are not aware of the belief, you can’t change it. Even when you become aware of it, chang­ing a Rock, core belief is hard, hard work.

Lip­ton says some­thing like, “The behav­iour won’t change unless you change the core belief.” But… but… you have to be will­ing to dig deep and extract that core belief.

Let’s say you’re hav­ing trou­ble with your hus­band. You try dif­fer­ent approach­es: for exam­ple, you might decide to learn and use a com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­el. But noth­ing much changes — the trou­bles continue.

This is a good sign that the real issue lies with one of your “core beliefs.” 

Per­haps, grow­ing up, you decid­ed that peo­ple should treat you “spe­cial.” Or, you learned you had to fight every time you felt threat­ened, in order to stay alive. Or you were taught that you had to get sick to get atten­tion (this is a biggie!)

If a Rock belief is uncon­scious­ly dri­ving your ship, no com­mu­ni­ca­tion mod­el in the world will help.

If you do not change the core belief, your day-to-day behav­iours are not going to shift.


If the core belief remains out of your aware­ness, the only alter­na­tive the “sys­tem” (your body) has is to get your atten­tion by mak­ing you sick or mak­ing you ache. If that doesn’t work, the cells begin to break down and you get deep­er, more seri­ous illnesses.

Aware­ness is the abil­i­ty to focus your atten­tion on what is real­ly going on at the deep, core lev­el. Body­work deals with this same process, allow­ing core issues to emerge.

Un-aware­ness is think­ing that your life is out of your con­trol, as opposed to sim­ply out of your consciousness.

Aware­ness is know­ing what’s up at the core lev­el. Unless and until you take core work seri­ous­ly, noth­ing will change.

The good news is that what is in our cloud of un-awareness is simply unchosen data. It is available, so long as you are prepared to do the work of extracting it.

Give my book, Liv­ing Life in Grow­ing Orbits, a try. It’s 365 days doing the hard work of self-explo­ration, at the core level.

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