Stories of awakening and enlightenment are getting further into the mainstream these days, which is great — more awakening beings on this planet will give us a much higher chance of not sending ourselves and the planet extinct — but there can also be misconceptions about what this all means. In this piece I share a big waking up moment I experienced, and the truth of what awakening and enlightenment really are.
First my story
I started working with Piers Thurston in August 2018. In our first session he blew my mind with what he shared, I left with the ground seeming shaky and uncertain — and I trusted him with where this was going.
Two conversations later, on the 23rd of August, I was taking a shower, running through what was happening that day, thinking about what time I’d be home that night & how it would be good for the kids because I was going to be home early, having been late the night before.
Then I had a realisation. An awakening moment. A seeing of what was really going on.
I saw that all of the story in my head was coming from made up thought. All of it was coming from the human-created definitions of what counts as a good parent.
What followed was an overwhelming feeling in my stomach, like I was going to be sick. It moved up like a huge lump, a solid wave. It made it to my throat and then there were sobs. Silent deep sobs. And from nowhere I was saying “I’m ok. I’m ok.”
And then there were smiles. Cheshire cat smiles. Smiles that kept on coming through the morning. I felt lighthearted. And free.
I messaged Piers to tell him about it and said “It feels like that might have been an insightful realisation!”.
And it was. A realisation that stays with me now, in my bones, a knowing that I am OK — no matter what. Even when things look tough and I lose sight of it, something in me knows that OK-ness is still there.
Since then I’ve experienced numerous tiny moments, another big one and a whole host of invisible ones that I wasn’t even aware of until I do something and it happens differently to my old norm.
Because awakening is a process, not a fixed state.
What are awakening and enlightenment?
Nobody is awakened. If they tell you they are, they’re not — we can never fully be. Not while we’re in this body, not as a permanent state. And also, we are all awakened, just with differing amounts of cloud covering the sun at any given moment on any given day.
As a process, awakening is the (usually) gradual, occasionally sudden, dissolution of untrue, limiting stories about the self. The evaporation of the clouds that cover the sun. The loosening of the beliefs about this “you” that you think you are.
The “you” usually thinks this is a terrible idea because it thinks — and has been jabbering this in your ear all its life — that “it” is the reason you are who you are. That “it” is the source of all your success, all your progress, your sparkling personality, your intelligence even. It’s told you that “it” is your saviour from harm or hurt or embarrassment.
In fact, all the imagined “you” does is keep you limited and less than you really are. It tells false stories but makes them sound compelling — like the best newspaper journo in the world. It keeps you trapped within the same habits, behaviours and patterns because it is those that “it” relies on to stay in existence. “It” is the source of all resistance, upset, frustration, anger, stress.
We catch sight of the untruth of it all when we have an experience of flow or presence. At those times, when we’re so absolutely absorbed in the moment, the “you” can’t exist. In those moments life is living freely through us. The “you” voice is a function of imagination and only pipes up when we’re following past-future thinking or thinking ‘what does this means for me?’.
In those moments of flow we have the opportunity to see that there’s something else going on. If that “you” is so important, how come — while in the present moment — you were able to have that successful meeting / ski down that slope / eat dinner with that loved one / have a clear, straight, tough conversation with someone. In fact you maybe even did all those things better than you thought you could! So who was doing that, if the “you” that you think you are wasn’t there?
When we’re here, in the now, entirely present, no “you”, no voice nagging, just words spoken, actions taken, or not. Entirely authentic and full of integrity with infinite possibilities available — yes’s, no’s, kind words, strong words — anything possible. That’s you being what you really are, the essence of life living. No fear-thoughts of “will this work out OK”, “how will they respond” or “what if x, y or z happens”.
Looking to that essence more and knowing it to be what you really are, irrespective of any external circumstances, thoughts or feelings— that’s enlightenment. Known even in the temporary appearance of anger or frustration — because they will still show up, that’s what they do, but now, known for what they are: impersonal and valuable opportunities to see through another veil of “you” thought. Another chance to wake up a bit more.
And as we awaken more, we no longer chase something better over there in the future, nor run away from something apparently bad back there in the past. Knowing that whatever is happening here is all that could be happening, and there’s an allowing of it, knowing that anything else is illusory, imagination.
You’ll have had an awakened, present, flow experience. I guarantee it. You might not have noticed it. Or you might have had a moment of flow and believed it to be a fluke because that voice usually chimes in soon after saying “oh that was good, how did you do that, let’s do that I again, I liked that” and it starts off on a replication chase — immediately covering over the capacity for the exact thing it is seeking.
And so we have the opportunity to begin a process of uncovering that true essence by entering into a conversation that starts to break down the false, constructed limitations that are hiding it.
The more it’s uncovered, the more layers are dissolved, the more we wake up and the more time we spend in our essential us-ness. Then, in the absence of concern for the “you”, this body and mind become more the authentic essence than the idea of the “you” ever was and OK with all of it.
Still not awakened. But awaken-ing. And bringing more awakeness to the world around you.
With love, Helen