For so long I imagined and dreamed that waking up would be like taking a magic pill. I dreamed that depression and anxiety and other mental and emotional difficulties would just vanish into thin air. When I was really honest with myself, like so much of my desperate seeking in the world, my spiritual search often centred around a deep desire to simply feel better or to feel blissful and joyful all the time.
And of course, I didn’t want to do any real hard work! I didn’t want to look at all that unpleasant stuff I really thought about myself or address some of the imbalances in my life. I didn’t, God forbid, want to be disciplined in any way! I was disciplined in my desperation however. For years I yearned for all the heaviness to simply lift, to magically evaporate.
The truth is much more workaday than that though. I did eventually engage in practice – albeit in a much more haphazard way that many would suggest. But in those times that I simply just wanted a magic pill, when I felt so dreadful and desperate to run away, I did pause and get quiet and look within to make conscious contact with the space of God in and around me. And these days too, there are times when the drama of life threatens to sweep me up and carry me off. It is precisely these times that require the hard work and clear intention to see clearly and to look beyond the surface appearance of how things are showing up.
What this DOES provide is a way to navigate the choppy waters much more effectively and skillfully. In those moments when I most want to escape what is in front of me, I find that by diving into it with full conscious awareness, any knotted situation can begin to unravel and resolve and any heaviness and pain within me can start to dissolve. In that sense, yes… there is magic in staying awake. But it takes bravery and it takes a clear intention to face the demon in front of me. It’s no good simply waiting to feel more open to explore being awake.
The light of awareness shines on everything within us that is not awake. In that sense, we are given endless opportunities to see clearly in our lives. When we go through this enough times, staying awake in times of distress simply becomes our ‘modus operandi’, we just find that we operate that way… it’s just how we roll!
So, we may find we are still presented with some of the mental and emotional challenges we had hoped that awakening would magically cure. But this time, with the open heart of presence shining within us, we are equipped with a much more effective approach to dissolving egocentric thinking and dis-ease in our lives. No longer are we tangled up in the sensations of depression or confusion, no longer are we trapped in the chattering mind with all of its story making and catastrophe thinking… we are given a much clearer view of the situation and can finally take the steps required to heal. That is the very practical magic of waking up to the presence of God in your life.