You might be asking, "Okay, Irwin, what exactly is open awareness?" I'm glad you asked! Open awareness is "where we simply rest in the awareness of awareness, feeling what it’s like to be conscious without paying attention to anything in particular. In everyday life, open awareness means approaching situations with fresh eyes, letting go of our habitual reactions and our expectations for the future." While open awareness is certainly is one of the most advanced contemplative techniques, it offers us, the practitioners, a greater potential for more freedom, more peace, and more healing. Sounds pretty good to me!
The idea of being aware of awareness can, on the surface, seem a bit weird. Some humans find it disorienting, confusing, and even difficult to hold on to. Some might even say it's bizarre. Dan Siegal, MD, and author of the book Aware discusses open awareness and its benefits. As the inventor of open awareness, he says that it's helpful to not compare open awareness to other experiences. Instead, he offers, try to simply describe the feelings you experience with open awareness. According to journalist Daniel Goleman and neuroscientist Richard Davidson, the brains of longtime meditation practitioners actually look different when they're practicing open awareness. It does change the human brain. And for the better! "Gamma waves—which, for most of us, occur briefly and in one spot of the brain—are elevated all across their brains, corresponding to the sense of vastness and spaciousness they feel. Neuropsychiatric researcher Judson Brewer and colleagues also found similar electrical patterns during a range of meditative practices that are called 'effortless awareness'—a state of being aware of whatever arises as it arises." Another social neuroscientist also found that attentional states are associated with neural firing in primitive brain stem regions that are associated with the most basic processes of life - awe, gratitude, joy, an inner sense of vitality, and relational connection to the world around. Humans, then, can propose that open awareness naturally gives rise to the subjective experience of joy, awe, and peace—of meaning, love, and connection. How cool is that?
"Neuroscientists commonly call the brain an 'anticipation machine.' To predict and get ready for what is going to happen next, it constructs a perceptual filter that selects and organizes what we actually become aware of based on what we’ve experienced before. Filters shape what we focus on, which in turn influences the information our brains receive." And filters help humans survive by helping you to make sense of life; to feel safe and secure when the world around you feels turbulent and unsettled. The downside of filters, however, is that they can prevent you from experiencing new things; of seeing life in new ways or from finding new solutions to old problems. Filters equate stuckness. And they can even make life seem dull. Children aren't "stuck" and that is one big reason they are able to find joy and wonder in things that adults often take for granted.
The challenge then is to find new ways of thinking; new ways of seeing and of being. Open awareness helps to make your filters less rigid, it can open you up to seeing life in a whole new way, thus clearing out the cobwebs and randomness of your thoughts.
I googled open awareness and found many links to articles on the subject, should you wish to know more. or you might choose to purchase Dr. Siegal's book or borrow it from your local library.
I hope you found this information helpful...or at the very least, informative. Much of my free time is spent reading and learning about subjects that interest me. When I find things that are intriguing, I then pass that information on to you in a somewhat condensed fashion.
Please come back tomorrow when I'll share some interesting information on storytelling using math. It's a lot more fun than you might think! Until then, I wish you all