Awareness


If A Tree Falls...

What is awareness?  To the ancient Hindus, awareness is consciousness, Citi.  Awareness is creative. Reality unfolds before it, responsive to it, moving and dancing with it.  It is the light of a new day, the light of understanding.  Without awareness, the expression of the Universe does not exist.  Not only that, but the Universe is only expressed to the degree it is perceived.  Therefore, it exists inside of us.  From this standpoint, answer the old question, if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Image by Angela Yuriko Smith from Pixabay
Awareness, because it is creative, is associated with the sacral chakra.  According to the Egyptian creation mythology, in the beginning there was only the vast waters of Nun, in all dimensions of the dimensionless and all directions of the directionless. All existed as this, ordered, still and stagnant for the timeless time.  Out of boredom, thought willed a wind that created a slight ripple in these vast waters. The ripple was the first form.  As it moved over the waters, it grew to be the first being, Ra.  Ra, the light of awareness, with thought alone created all things. And still that exists, Ra. the Sun, the light and Nun, the vast waters of dark matter.  The interplay of these two aspects of one being, the reciprocal dance between them, creates the Universe.   This dance of subject and object, performer and audience is also depicted in the Hindu creation myth of Shiva and Shakti.  Find my story of this myth in the post Devotion- Shiva and Shakti.

Awareness, Citi, Ra, Shakti, the Universe, Shiva and Nun are all God, God recognizing itSelf. That experience is also our experience.  Our mind, our consciousness, our awareness is also God.  In our program, we use a song to describe this magical relationship.


Hey Ho!
written by David Hayward

Hey Ho!
I feel so fine
God in me, as me, is me
And I'm just Divine
Hey Ho!
I feel so free
'Cuz God's having fun just being Me!


Affirmation: God in me, as me, is me
Chakra engaged: Sacral

Activity 1: The Monk's Heavy Load

Koans, like the tree one above, are a form of riddle.  They are often used to stop the mind, and center it into contemplation.  Koans may also be told in story form as a parable.  For a classic tale about self-awareness, read The Monk's Heavy Load from Kindness: a Treasury of Buddhist wisdom for Children and Parents collected by Sarah Conover or find it in the children's book, Zen Shorts by John Muth.  Here is another version of the same story on video from VRMGINDIA OFFICIAL.  After reading or listening, you can discuss together how thoughts are creative and how they feel in the body.  How does the world respond to your thoughts?


Activity 2: Play with riddles

Personally powerful koans can bounce around in the subconscious, and bring stillness and reflection, years and years after they are first heard.  They work magic by shifting our awareness, not only away from our fleeting thoughts and emotions, but also by creating new possibilities and realities through our imaginative, creative mind. Best of all they are fun. I invite you to explore more riddles as a family.  Also, be watchful for riddles that come to you in casual conversation that may evoke a deeper personal meaning or metaphor. Here are a few to enjoy:

  • What is the sound of one hand clapping?
  • When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. "Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer. "Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best." At these words Banzan became enlightened.  Find more Zen Koans.
  • I was assisting in passing out dragon bread to children during the annual Festival of Courage at school.  To receive their bread, the children had to walk in a spiral.  A teacher came up to me and said, "You must guide the children, lest they become lost."  At these words, my mind stopped.  This seemingly random comment is so personally powerful to me that I am still moved to tears by it.
  • I have contemplated this riddle from the Tanaina tribe in Alaska for many years because it is a something I have never known, and will never experience, yet, through imagination, it has opened my awareness.  Wait, I see a little red spark moving on top of the water. Answer: The swimming beaver's teeth in the setting sun.  From Lightening Inside You and other Native American Riddles, edited by John Bierhorst.
  • From the Arapaho (Oklahoma): What travels fast?  Answer: Your thoughts. Same source as above.

Activity 3: Create you own riddles with Haiku

Haiku is a form of poetry that is experiential and reflective.  It originated in Japan as a spiritual practice.  In both reading and writing, it is a practice in awareness, typically in regards to nature. There are lots of style variations, but the traditional from is a 3-line poem with 5-7-5 syllable pattern, totaling 17 total syllables, or 17 On (Japanese for sounds). One of these words is the kigo, that evokes the season, and another is the kireji, the cutting word, that stops the mind, or matches up two opposing concepts.

Practice writing Haiku together.  For inspiration, enjoy these from American Haiku poet, James Hackett (Haiku Poetry, vol 2, 1968):

Ever suspended
above the ground that he strolls
the daddy-longlegs.

Blocked, the line of ants
just broadens until it can
go around, and on...


Also, to inspire the rhythm of Haiku, I recommend a wonderful children's book, Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein.

Activity 4: Go on a belly hike

Find a new awareness and open up your child's power of empathy on a belly hike.  Of the theorized 11 dimensions, we only know 4 using our physical senses.  Yet, of those few, we are still very limited, not only by the limited power of our human senses, but also by our perspective.  Find a new perspective, a new awareness by exploring the world on your belly.  You do the hiking with your eyes, moving through the plants, finding tiny paths, seeing the world through a bug's eyes.   This activity is both calming and engaging (see the Earthing activity in the Sitting with Trees post).

Here is some haiku we created after our belly hike:

Dancing lazily
Cool fog swirls up from the ocean
grasses make babies

Vigorous hand wash
One body connects to another
Fly on mama's foot

Big red monster
Ant walks in between the grass
Ladybug flies by

Another idea to engage a new awareness of familiar things is to create a backyard scavenger hunt.  Make a list for your child to find of small things that will get them outside and looking at the world in new ways.  With a scavenger hunt, something new may be born into their consciousness.

Activity 5: Inner awareness


The story of the two monks teaches us many things.  Among them that our inner experience can create a burden that we carry. We may not even know we are carrying it. In a Universe responsive to our thoughts and feelings, that mirrors our emotions, these burdens can manifest into self-actualizing events.  In the Egyptian creation story, notice it is a feeling, boredom*, that first comes before the thought.  The thought itself need not even recognize the feeling, yet it created the first form, a ripple upon the still water.  My teacher, Dr. Bill Little, likes to say that our thoughts and beliefs must become reality; otherwise, that would be the definition of insanity, a reality that doesn't match our experience.

We learn early on to ignore the limited physical and emotional senses that we do experience.  It is a good parenting practice to create an emotional vocabulary with your child.  Just naming an emotion can bring the light of awareness to it thereby releasing it or bringing new understanding for how it is creating your experience.  A great book to build awareness of our inner landscape is Listening to my Body by Gabi Garcia.  This book is full of practices for not only recognizing emotion but also for processing emotion.  I recommend reading it slowly with your child to really take in all the information and practices.

*Boredom is a highly underrated and very powerfully creative emotion.  It is great if your children tell you they are bored.  When my children tell me they are bored, I say, "How exciting, that means you are on the verge of a new discovery!"  Remember, that boredom created the Universe.

Activity 6: Song and Mantra

I have found that singing is the fastest way to deep awareness and one of the most powerful teachers.  It is not unusual for me to structure my class completely in song and mantra. I offer Long Time Sun in honor of Ra who lives as us as the light of understanding. Also, for this lesson, I love the Adi Shakti mantra, bowing to the divine consciousness.  Kids love to pair the song with movement as Celestial Communication.


Long Time Sun
by Snatam Kaur


May the long-time sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light
Within you
Guide your way on
Guide your way on

[REPEAT X2]

Sat naam (X6)


Adi Shakti
By Snatam Kaur



Adi Shakti (X3)
Namo Namo

Sarab Shakti (X3)
Namo Namo

Pritham Bhagvati (X3)
Namo Namo

Kundalini Mata Shakti
Mata Shakti (X2)
Namo Namo

[REPEAT]

Translation:

First Force of all creation
To You I bow

Divine Force everywhere
To you I bow

Creative Force, Primal Force
To you I bow

Rising up Divine Mother
To you I bow


Namasté. 🙏
Karen


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Image credits

Forest: Thilo Becker
Mushroom: Willgard Krause

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