Four “Required” Conditions for Creative Interchange (CI) – Part II

The CI Condition for Renewing Authenticity – Condition A

Awareness

We were born with our Creative Self and we are conditioned into a created self. Our Creative Self enters the world aware. That awareness is conditioned into a conscious created-self. They are not two “separate selves.” They are two aspects of the same self. Unfortunately, in the conditioning process most of us end up being conscious of and identifying with the conscious aspect of our Creative Self. In short, we become conscious at the expense of remaining aware of our awareness.

Awareness is non-dual, nonjudgmental, nonlinear and non-striving. It involves transcendence, freedom, openness and trust. The feeling quality is one of calm, peace, joy and what many in eastern culture call ananda, “bliss.” It is not unfamiliar to young children, though it is virtually impossible to put into words such an experience. It has been referred to as an “oceanic feeling,” egoless-ness, peak experience, in the zone and the list goes on. More everyday words are awe and wonder.

Mystics and contemplatives have described it in many ways, in many languages, at many times and places. Nevertheless, it remains somewhat of an enigma for many in both western and eastern culture. Awareness does not lend itself to words, concepts, explanations and/or definitions. The next pages are an attempt to catch that concept into writing. The most common and popular word for it in modern parlance is “mindfulness” although; the word has many different meanings for different people.

The human infant is born authentic, aware, trusting and open. One of the key elements of this trust and openness is the capacity to observe. Observing can be distinguished from perceiving, but not separated from it. Perception includes observing, but adds conscious subject-object divisions, positive-negative judgments, linear either/or reasoning and striving for different meanings as we adapt to the world and its survival requirements. Observing remains non-subject/object, nonjudgmental, nonlinear and non-striving.

As we grow older and develop, part of our adapting to the world, perception becomes dominant and we focus more on being conscious at the expense of being aware. The adaptive conditioning process tends to dictate our intentions and consequently where we focus our attention. Parents, teachers, peers and society in general expect and demand that we focus our attention on how, what, and who will provide acceptance applause and praise. This is both a positive AND a negative process. In helping the child adapt the tendency has been to do so at the expense of the child remaining aware of the distinction between awareness and consciousness. I refer to this distinction as I-awareness and me-consciousness. “I,” the Creative-Self, observes while “me,” the created adaptive-self, perceives. We are capable of both observing and perceiving. Nevertheless, we are conditioned to identify primarily with me-consciousness, rather than I-awareness.

The distinction can now be made between honesty, which is a function of the conscious created self and the authenticity of the aware Creative-Self. Awareness is also being aware of being conscious, thus includes consciousness. Consciousness is seldom conscious of being aware. In other words, when the created self is honest it is only honest from the perspective of the conditioned created-self. The created self remains relatively unaware of the Creative-Self.

The integrity of the created-self is consistent up to a certain point. Because awareness includes consciousness the Creative-Self can include both the contents of consciousness and the observations and awareness of the Creative-Self. This additional quality forms the basis for authenticity. Authenticity is both “I” AND “me.” creative-self_created-self2

It can be stated that the Creative-Self can be aware of being aware AND of “me” being conscious. Consciousness, on the other hand, is seldom conscious of “I” being aware of “me” being conscious. That is why someone can be honest without being totally authentic. Being conscious is only part of the story.

Self-awareness

Self-awareness or “I-awareness” becomes evident when we learn to observe our thinking, feeling, believing, valuing and behaving without judging. The simple act of observing is metacognitive and can make our thinking, interpreting, judging, deciding and perceiving intentional, as well as, focus our attention. Self-awareness allows us to transcend normal “me-consciousness” with its internal chatter or as some like to call it, our “monkey mind.”

Self-awareness observes how we interpret, anticipate and react toward a person, situation or event. The majority of us have grown unaware of our capacity to observe. We focus attention on what and how we are saying, feeling, and doing things, rather than, noticing how and where we are focusing our attention. We identify with and become our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors and are unaware that we can also observe ourselves being the “identifier.” Excess identification with our thoughts, emotions and actions is deceptive. It is paramount that we remember that being aware and conscious is part of who we are. We have the capacity to observe where and to what degree we focus our attention.

There is another distinction worth noting. That is the distinction between feeling and emoting. Our culture is preoccupied with emotion these days. I relate the term feeling to touch, to a tactile or physical sensation. An example of this would be when someone feels his or her interest in something or someone is rising. Feelings, like joy and peace, fall into this category as well. Emotion, which gets most of the hype these days, comes from the Latin ex- out of; away from; on the outside + movēre, to move. There is a great deal of “drama” associated with emotional states. Emotion is a reaction to someone or situation in which there is a strong positive or negative affinity or attachment.

Self-awareness can be focused outward on what we are expressing, saying and doing and it can be focused inward on thinking, feeling and even on awareness itself. It is one thing to be aware of what’s in our consciousness and quite another to become aware of being aware. As mentioned previously, awareness and consciousness are two aspects of the same thing. Awareness is free from and transcends the limitations of our mental models. To transcend means literally to “pass beyond the limits.” Our mental model or mindset imposes limits by filtering data and information through presuppositions interpretation, meanings, values and beliefs. These filters limit and shape our perception. Awareness passes beyond these limits.

The word transcend comes from the Latin trāns– meaning across, beyond, through, to cross over + scandere, to climb; to leap and to jump. Awareness moves, climbs and leaps beyond our everyday presuppositions, meanings, understanding, beliefs and values. It is not bound by our intentions, strivings and judgments. It is the realm of intuition and the creative self. integrated creatively the creative and created self become mutually supportive and transformational. Consciousness is informed by awareness and interpretation is augmented by intuition. It is only when we have over identified with our created self and become unaware of our creative self, or even fearful of it, that creative interchange is obstructed.

There is a third characteristic of awareness, which moves beyond the focus of this discussion. As stated above, awareness can be focused on our outer world and/or the internal dialogue or conscious self-talk of our inner world. The mystics talk about a third focus that is beyond or transcends both our outer and inner psychological worlds. It is often referred to as spiritual. This is a journey into the depths of awareness itself. The attention is focused intentionally on awareness. This is the world of contemplatives, meditators, mystics, yogi’s, and the likes. It is only mentioned here to indicate that such a dimension is part of our ancient traditions.

Other awareness

What was discussed in self-awareness can be applied to others as well. It is important to be aware that we perceive others, more than, observe them. This means we are likely to perceive others as we are and not observe them as they are. This interferes we our ability to be empathic and achieve appreciative understanding of another’s frame-of-reference or mental model. Being aware of others keeps us more “objective” and authentic as we share our perspectives and listen to theirs. The more aware we are of the interpretations we are making, meanings we’re assigning and projecting and the conclusions we are drawing the more accurate our understanding of their intentions, words and behvior will be.

It is critical that we not attribute motives and/or intentions to others. We must be acutely aware of our tendencies to lose focus and stop “paying” attention to what and how others are communicating. We must listen and be aware of the difference between what they intend and how we interpret, evaluate and react. Sustained attention is difficult and requires discipline. The monkey mind provides an endless array of distractions in a matter of seconds. Most people are in the habit of following their monkey mind distractions and remain unaware that they are no longer seeing or hearing what is being said and is happening. They are no longer present to the conversation.

Situational awareness

The distinction of observing and not simply perceiving events, circumstances and situations is an extension of self and other awareness. Observing distinctions without immediately interpreting and evaluating them is difficult. It is imperative to be objective in contrast to stereotyping and projecting. The more we observe the greater the probability we will respond and not automatically react to our interpretations based on potentially erroneous assumptions and generalizations.

Respond comes from the Latin spondēre, to make a solemn promise, to pledge. Reactions are primarily habitual and unconscious, while responses include reflection and choices. Reactions are on autopilot; responses involve choices that are consistent with one’s values, promises and commitments. Responses originate in our authenticity. Reactions result from our conditioned habit patterns.

In the case of creative interchange responding originates from an intention to “see” and “hear” what actually is being communicated prior to any interpreting, assigning of meaning and/or evaluating what, if anything, is happening. Reacting is a “knee jerk” action with little or no conscious intention involved. It is initiated simply by an habitual emotional pattern.