Awakening with the Two-Step Dance of Awareness and Release

Awakening with the Two-Step Dance of Awareness and Release

I write books (www.beyond-karma.com) for two reasons.

One, there is a simple and easy way to release depression, anxiety and the unease of being.

And, two, because awakening is simple.

And what is awakening? Awakening is awakening out of the world of fear and sadness. Leonard Jacobson says, “To awaken simply means to awaken out of the world of the thinking mind into the world of the present moment.”  Buddha said very simply: it is the end of suffering. It is finding the joy of being. It is a fundamental shift in consciousness which opens up the world. It is flow.

Some people take exception to using the word “simple” to describe the awakening process. I recognize that for most people who are trying to awaken, the process has not been easy, and I’m not trying to insult the people who are struggling with it.

If you look around at the resources available for awakening, you might get the idea that awakening is very difficult, or you have to meditate for decades, or you need specialized spiritual knowledge, or you need to understand theories of existence, and bliss and oneness, or you have to sign up with a tradition and ‘advance’ your way through the hierarchy or you need to understand the various “stages” of consciousness or solve zen koans, and so forth. You don’t have to do any of this, and from what I have seen, these can actually be obstacles to awakening for many.

Awakening is simple. It’s not simple for some only because of the effort they put into complicating it.

The Two Step Dance of Awakening – Awareness and Release

Here’s how you awaken:

First: Find a release technique which resonates with you. Try the Release technique I describe, or the Sedona Method, and EFT. Releasing helps free us of depression, anxiety, the past, and it’s an effective salve for awakening symptoms. (Some call these Kundalini symptoms).

Second: Find an awareness technique which resonates. All awareness techniques lead to Awareness Now. This is referred to with many different words: effortless meditation, being, natural being, being present, just as is, passive watchfulness, zazen, dyana, ch’an, zen, and many other Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Kaballah, Sufi, and Gnostic terms. Why complicate it? It is a passive watchfulness which is not of the mind but which can watch the mind and everything else.

It is utterly simple, here and now. When mind says, “is this all there is?”, that is it. In the utter ordinariness, the extraordinary will unfold.

Obstacles to Awakening

“The simplest cure is to feel free to block, so that one does not block at blocking. When one feels free to lock, the blocking [holding on] automatically eliminates itself….The principle here is, of course, the same as getting out of the contradiction of ‘trying to be spontaneous’ through accepting the ‘trying’ as spontaneous’ …” The Way of Zen, Allan Watts

The biggest obstacle is our own ideas. Awakening is waking up from the story of “me”; but it immediately merges into another story about advancing the “me” and then we are concerned about how successful we are at awakening. This resistance can show up in many ways. It shows up as the need to understand more before you can start, dismissal, ‘spiritualized’ ego, intellectual analysis and beliefs, or the clinging to particular concepts or techniques or traditions or disciplines like meditation or yoga or visualization or philosophizing or some new-age thing or enchantment with particular teachers or with the idea of awakening itself.

It can be the ego’s fear of awakening, which can show up as “My God, who will I be without emotions and desires?” or “How can I ever give up thinking?” or “I need to understand this fully” or “I am not ready for this” and so forth. It can show up as a clinging to every new fads, such as the Law of Attraction, or “masterminding” or visualizing…this is just stuff that we seek out desperately to change who we are.

All you have to do is to suss out obstacles is to notice them. Don’t think about them; don’t analyze them; don’t block—all of that is just more thinking. Perhaps this is why the Buddha warned not to believe anything anyone says, until it is experience.

The test for whether you are caught in an obstacle is very simple. Ask yourself how you feel compared to say three months ago. Do you feel more open, lighter, and joyful? This of course takes radical honesty to answer, and if you don’t think you can be radically honest with yourself, you’re in a good place. It’s a great start.

Your goal is not to experience some sort of big-bang transformation. Don’t worry about when enlightenment happens in linear time, or even if there really is such a thing. The goal is to get into the flow of awakening, so that it deepens on its own, effortlessly.

The Journey

“You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” –Morpheus to Neo in the movie The Matrix

If you start this you will discover many things on your own. You will see the nature of effort for what it is. You will put in some effort in the beginning, but once you get into the flow of awakening, it will work on its own. You will see that it is about the releasing of effort.

You may go through some emotional turmoil; don’t worry, the releasing will help you and heal you. You will understand why it’s important to rely only on direct experience, and not on what you read or hear, even if it is from your favorite “spiritual” guide. You will see and laugh at frivolities of your own revelations and beliefs, and you will recognize the voice in the head as just a voice in the head. You will see why spirituality itself is an obstacle. You will see that all that you believe is irrational, and you will see why we don’t perceive reality as it is. And, with great relief, you will find that when you are able to get out of the way, Awareness does the job of awakening all by itself, much better than you can.

My experience with depression and anxiety was not easy. But releasing the anxiety and depression, once I found a natural method, was as easy as opening a fisted hand. It was difficult for me but it doesn’t have to be difficult for you.

My awakening experiences in the beginning were also difficult. But I found that releasing helps with letting go of concepts I had built around awakening, and then it was easy to get into the effortless flow of awakening. “I” do absolutely nothing except get out of the way.

This is the two-step dance of Awareness and Release.

Photo by Eddi 07

Kaushik Chokshi

Kaushik writes books and articles on www.beyond-karma.com about: How do we free ourselves from the past, from depression and anxiety, from the unease of being which most of us experience? The joy of being is so utterly simple, right here and right now. Awareness and Release—the two-step dance of awakening–allow this natural ease which transforms all of living–-health, relationships, and well-being!

Latest posts by Kaushik Chokshi (see all)

42 Comments

  1. LOVE this post. What you’ve said about awakening is so true and important. I also love the image you’ve chosen…so moving.

    Reply
    • @Positively Present, Thanks! I didn’t select the image; Peter must have, and, you’re right, it is perfect. It shows the happy tango of living…which is what awakening is all about!

      Reply
  2. this reminds me of puberty, when you were worried about “growing up” or even before, when you were a child wondering what does it mean to “be mature”.

    the only difference is that this stage is optional.

    Reply
    • @Samus_, yes, thank you, that’s a good analogy. The “worrying” about is the obstacle, and it shows up in may different ways.

      Reply
  3. Interesting post but I think you are contradicting yourself. Nothing in your post indicates that the process is simple. I realize that your intention is to help us to see that awareness is a matter of perception. However, to deal with those obstacles can be hard for some. You even admitted here that you had a hard time yourself. I think you do a disservice here by saying it is simple because if someone has a hard time with this, they may think that there is something wrong with them and they will give up on being aware. Simple is a deceptive term.

    Reply
    • @Lucy, I absolutely wholeheartedly agree with you Lucy. Whilst the premise of this article has a positive essence, I think the author has (despite his experience) mis-represented the difficulty that many people suffer with anxiety and depression. Whilst it is great that Kaushik has found what he feels is a good solution, it almost akin to people ‘finding’ god and almost preaching this new found knowledge that CAN (not saying it does here) come across as arrogant and belittling to those people who are still depressed and anxious and do not find this solution works for them.

      Depression and anxiety are far from simple, and the solutions are far from simple. They may appear to be ‘basic’ once you find them but as the author admitted, they spent years in sadness / difficulty so then believing you have a ‘simple’ solution to share with people, once you believe you have found your method – in my opinion – is not a great the best way to foster support.

      I have to disagree Kaushik, awakening is not simple – like you said you need to let go of the ideas, the clinging etc, and that is NOT simple. It is like saying to an alcoholic – let go of your need for alcohol and sobriety is easy…

      LUCY – a personal note of thanks to you for being someone else who actually critically appraises some of the posts on here. I believe that the best way for personal advancement is through debate and questioning each other in the hope that we can learn from each other and move forward – not just congratulate each other on each other’s posts all the time and think we have ‘developed’.

      I hope people will see that I am trying to be constructive here. I like the essence of a lot of what is written but find too many people just seem to blindly agree with everything rather than debate items to help us ALL learn something more.

      Best wishes, Matt

      Reply
      • @Matt Higgins,

        Namaste Matt, I apologize, I somehow missed your comment.

        I acknowledge and appreciate that you are being constructive. I agree with you that the self-congratulating blogging community is not always helpful. Perhaps you can see that the truth “Awakening is simple” is resisted, ironically, for the same reason–individual and collective egos don’t like basic assumptions to be overturned.

        “‘Awakening is difficult” is an idea, a belief, an assumption. So is “Awakening is simple,” but our dualistic language affords no other way to try to break through the assumption.

        Your example of alcoholism is relevant. In his book and website, Jack Trimpey offers a simple method, called Rational Recovery, to get past the addiction of alcohol and other substances. His success rate is 65% whereas AA is in the single digits! His method is based on overturning the assumption that abstinence is difficult. The ego loves to believe that abstinence is difficult, it can never be permanent, it would take enormous discipline and support and so on. And, collective egos will propagate these assumptions, and will resist anyone who may question it.

        Can we notice that “Awakening is difficult” is just an idea? A mental construct? Can we let go of the idea?

        Shanti
        Kaushik

        Reply
  4. Namaste Lucy,

    Yes, I agree with you, awakening is hard for many. And it is not unusual for people to be offended when I say awakening is simple. And yes, those who are struggling with it, may feel the message is a disservice.

    When I first read Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now, I was vaguely offended. Time magazine called it “mumbo jumbo” and I’m sure I would have been able to intellectually argue that it was complete nonsense, and I’m sure many other egos feel the same way. And for many years before that, I lived in the world of fear and sadness, and I didn’t think there was any other possibility. There was nothing wrong with me; I was just clinging to assumptions that I was sure were immutable. And similarly there is nothing wrong with people who find awakening difficult; they are just clinging to assumptions.

    The ,strong>only obstacle is the clinging to fixed beliefs, which can show up in the many ways I’ve pointed out, and it can also show up as the belief that awakening is very difficult, or accomplished.

    Awakening is simple. The ego will fight us on this, and this is where a Release technique can help, particularly a release technique that is truly about letting go. When we can let go of the effort, and the struggle, and the clinging to ideas…awakening is simple.

    Reply
  5. Awakening is probably easy – although I don’t think I’m terribly awakened at the moment. I understand the notion of bare awareness – drawing a la Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a good experience of it for me.

    I’m wondering whether awakening makes it easier to learn mundane things – like how to market my blog for instance.

    Reply
    • @Evan, It’s interesting that you mention Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It’s a book I recommend, but very few people associate it with awakening. It is indeed a good experience in awareness.

      There is some evidence that awakening may have to do with the right side of the brain. Google Jill Bolte Taylor.

      Reply
  6. Hi Kaushik .. I love the photo .. one can feel the release about to spring out – but feel the awareness they have for each other. Opportunities release, and bring them back to rework, be aware of .. & release again making them stronger ..

    Thanks – Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

    Reply
    • @Hilary, Namaste. Peter selected the photo, and yes it perfectly represents release, togetherness, fun, the celebration of being. You said it well: the each-otherness in the photo is poignant. Thanks!

      Reply
  7. Good post; I enjoyed reading it.

    I found that when I, basically, had had enough and just let go, I felt so much lighter. When I put too much thought into it then one thought led to another, to another, … For times when I’m holding on too tightly to let go, EFT really helps. I never thought it would – it’s too simple, I thought, but I was wrong. It works very well.

    Reply
    • @Laurie | Express Yourself to Success,
      Namaste Laurie. Thanks, and I’m so glad EFT is working for you. EFT and Release are very simple, and the ego is disturbed this. The nice thing about EFT is it’s not a mental technique, so it works even when the mind is a drunken monkey. I also like that EFT is free–I’ve modeled my policies after EFT. The basics of well-being should be free and uncopyrighted. Thanks!

      Reply
  8. Nice post. As someone who teaches awareness training I appreciate the dance between effort and effortlessness that is part and parcel with the awakening process. For some people spiritual awakening is as quick and natural as waking up from a dream. For others it’s like trying to struggle out of bed in the early morning after a night of too little sleep. There is no “right” way to awaken.

    For your readers I’d note that it is definitely easier if they focus on simplicity.

    Start by simply paying attention to your breath as it flows in and out. Your breath is always happening in the present moment so it is a 24/7 tool for noticing the Now. And if as you follow your breathing you suddenly notice your mind has wandered. Great. You’ve just awoken to the fact that your mind was wandering. That’s a small victory. Use that alertness to return your focus to your breath.

    With practice, as you become comfortable with noticing your breath in the moment, you can begin to observe other things in the moment too: thoughts, emotions, the world around you, and the Still Point within that is observing it all.

    It can take time and practice, but mostly it is a matter of training yourself to simply pay attention to what is already there.

    Matthew at higherselfguides.com

    Reply
    • @Matthew, Namaskar.

      Thanks. That’s a nice way of looking at it–the dance between effort and effortlessness.

      Thanks for sharing your breath awareness technique. It’s tried-and-true; some call it Anapana or Anapasti. It’s an “easier” awareness technique. Your explanation is spot-on.

      Peace.

      Reply
  9. Awakening means letting go of baggage. Many people like their baggage. It’s a way of being for them, and I think this is where the difficulty in awakening comes from.

    Reply
    • @Annaly, Namaste,
      Yes, excellent point. We like our baggage, possibly because the mind is a habit-machine and it takes a peculiar pleasure in traversing its destructive but all-too-familiar grooves. Stuck patterns.

      So what are the things that allow us to be less fearful of letting go?

      Reply
      • @Kaushik, Great question.

        We can be afraid of many things but in the end the source fear comes down to a fear of change. Be that a fear of altering the current situation, losing something, gaining something, etc.

        Yet when we know and access the Still Point of awareness within that is unchanging and ever-present, we know ourselves as immortal points of awareness that exist like rocks in the never-ending river of experiences that flow through our lives. From this perspective everything is just experience and there is nothing to fear. No matter what life brings it is something to be experienced and indeed enjoyed and learned from.

        Thanks for asking such a great question to continue this conversation.

        Matthew (at) higherselfguides (dot) com

        Reply
  10. Namaste Matthew,

    Great points, about fear, and about the still point technique.

    Perhaps all negative emotions are the fear of change. To me, it feels that the root is the ego’s fear of not getting what it wants–which is essentially the fear of change. Anyway we look at it–releasing fear is easy and natural. We’ve just forgotten how.

    The still point technique–resting in stillness between breaths–is wonderful! It’s easy to learn, and can be done anywhere at anytime. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Shanti

    Reply
  11. Kaushik. You continue to teach me. Release all effort and observe passively. The simplicity of this approach reaches me because I can remember it. Release all effort and observe passively. Thank you once again, kind sir.

    Reply
    • @Brenda, Namaste,

      Thank you for your kind words. Awareness and release are so very simple, and yet my ego resisted for many years…when my ego softened, it felt like remembering something I had always known. In my experience, the things that can soften the ego are passive listening and repetition. This is why I repeat: Awareness and Release.

      Shanti Brenda, and I’m so pleased that you are opening.

      k

      Reply
  12. Thanks for this post — I could feel your desire to serve and encourage in it and I felt inspired. I’m interested in hearing more about your own experiences — I guess that’s what your website’s for! :)

    Reply
    • @Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching,

      Chris, Namaste and thank you! My own experience is simple: I had two decades of depression/anxiety/addictions, for which I am grateful. Without the suffering, a strong intellect would have kept me locked up. Awareness is awakening, but releasing breaks the chains of samsara.

      The website and books are opening up in surprising ways…I’m very happy to go along for the joyous ride!

      Shanti

      Reply
  13. Interesting you quote leonard jacobson in your first paragraph and use the expression “two step dance” since that is what he is so well known for. It’s good to see truth everywhere these days. However, release does imply getting rid of…is that truly the path to awakening. i guess something was lost in the translation! lol

    Reply
  14. Namaste Barbara,

    I couldn’t find two-step on Leonard’s website; I’m sure he uses the expression differently from the way I do. I do like Leonard’s teachings because he is straightforward and does not suggest there is anything complicated or accomplished about awakening. From his keys to awakening article, Leonard suggests the five keys to awakening are: being present, allow full expression to emotions, own up, accept and let go.

    I suggest to be present (passive watchfulness) and let go (release).

    Yes, release is letting go. Awakening is all about letting go of fear and accumulated concepts.

    Shanti.

    Reply
    • Hi,
      I’m new to this concept of responding to blogs, websites, etc and appreciate your immediate and direct response. Interesting how the mind interprets things differently. There are stepping stones to this “dance” of awakening for those of us “still seeking” rather than being… to be awake is immediate and I am full of gratitude that concepts no longer pull me out of presence, so what’s there to let go! Thank you for the words you use to express all this. Your assistance to others is much appreciate.
      Love,
      Barbara

      Reply
      • @Barbara, Namaste, and very well said. Being is not becoming.

        Love and Shanti,
        Kaushik

        Reply
  15. really glad you recommend the sedona method. profoundly changed various aspects of my life. more than anything the space it gives is amazing. EFT too. and great to see the kundalini reference too! :) wow. impressive, especially given the bland, rehashed tone of most self-helpy sites these days :P

    i liked the way you phrased the mind questioning “is this all there is?”

    This is it. – one of my favourite quotes.

    also quoting some alan watts?! we have really similar interests and focuses. snap.

    “You will see that it is about the releasing of effort.” – really thought provocative sentence. just stood out to me. reminded me of a powerful quote by Ramana Maharshi – “The feeling I work is the hindrance. Make no effort either to work or to renounce work. Your effort is the bondage.”

    inspiring stuff. gave it a stumble.

    really cool site all-round.
    keep in touch
    alex – unleash reality

    Reply
  16. Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the stumble and the encouragement! Ramana Maharshi was a great teacher, and his teachings still resonate! Release is it, Sedona, EFT, and there’s also EMDR–which I like but it’s not not self-applied. I prefer methods which are inexpensive and which people can do themselves.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Shanti,
    Kaushik

    Reply
  17. The process of awakening is “simple” – the concept to get here is that it is not “easy”…it is a part of the path on the journey of life.

    Reply
    • @chiropam,

      Dear Pam

      This is way too simplistic for me! It’s like saying the process of a ceasefire is simple but the actual war is not easy, or that crossing the finishing line is simple but running the marathon is not easy. To me ‘awakening’ is not a simple process because although it may make a profoud change in people’s lives it is still part of the overall life process and therefore can not be extricated from it. The final step of walking the Great Wall of China would be simple but the journey would be very hard indeed and you can not take the last step without the journey. Thus awakening is (for most) the result of a difficult journey and hence is not simple.

      OK, so why I am so pedantic about this? As I fed up of reading so many people (intentionally or not) simplifying things and saying ‘this is easy’ or ‘if I can do it, so can you’ etc. It’s great when people make break-throughs and want to share it but why not describe the hardwork and commitment that it takes to break habits or whatever their life issue is and not make it appear like they have made some glaring error which is what simplfying does for people.

      I’ll leave you with this:

      – I want you to jog from your home, all away around the world (using ships / ferries only) and back again? It’s easy isn’t it? All you have to do is train for the next 10 years or so to do it…

      Reply
      • Ps – I am aware Kaushik talked of a ‘difficult period’ or whatever but the essence of the message was, look awakening is simple, just come on and do it – which is just not true and I think there needs to be a more realistic view of change in life. Everyone wants everything now, yesterday, bigger, quicker. The western world is full of this yet has the most incidents of alcocolism, drug use, teenage pregnancies, violence/murder, mental health issues……. What we need is a shit in thinking in that things that are really worthwhile are generally speaking the result of hard work

        Best wishes, Matt

        Reply
      • @Matt Higgins, Thanks for your response to this, and for sharing your perception. I believe it has to do with the definitions of the words simple and easy. We as human beings make things complex through our individual values and beliefs – which in turn make the actions appear more difficult. There are a lot of courses, books, etc. on personal growth and development out there, yes…However, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which ones best suit the individual. From my own experience, awakening is a continual process with many facets. The different perceived challenges we can face can be handled according to the state of awakening we are in. At the end of the day, it comes down to balance. Not all good, not all bad, but being able to see the benefits and drawbacks in situations will help to achieve balance within, which leads to awakening throughout the journey of life. It is like evolving – it is a continual journey, not a destination.

        Reply
  18. Hi Matt,

    I think people write that way is because they are on something of a high – the release of energy that comes after the resolution/breakthrough/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. I agree that it can give a false impression. I think when we make a breakthrough we may forget the work it took to get there – or, we may not be aware of what we did, that many years of work prepared us for the breakthrough.

    For this discussion I think we need to say that what is simple may not be easy, it may be extremely hard. In terms of running a marathon – it’s simple: you put one foot in front of the other time after time. But easy – well, in the sense that you put one foot in front of the other until you stop (and you can stop anytime); but it certainly takes a lot of effort.

    Reply
    • @Evan,

      Thanks for the reply – I absolutely agree with the first part of your reply, that is exactly what I was talking about!

      I suppose the second bit comes down to people really understanding the definitions of ‘simple’ (i.e. not complex) and ‘easy’ (not taking much effort) and making sure they don’t use those as synomyns. Anyway, i don’t want to labour the point much more, but hey ho, I do believe it people used language more effectively, messages would get delivered better which would benefit us all!

      Reply
      • @Matt Higgins, Definitely agree that simple and easy are not synonyms – that is what I was trying to say originally…simple is “not” easy….

        Reply
  19. Namaste Chiropam, Matt, and Evan,

    I don’t say Awakening is simple to distinguish it from easy. Simple and easy are ideas. I don’t say Awakening is simple as a pedantic trick–I’m not saying that the last step in the marathon is simple and easy, and smugly ignoring the all the training and the most of the 26 miles of running. I don’t say awakening is simple as yet another “I want it now” aspect of modern culture. I fully recognize that awakening is difficult for many–I’m not trying to belittle those who are struggling with it.

    I say awakening is simple because it is. I say Awakening is simple in the same way I would say “Stop banging your head against the wall.” Yes, we can certainly analyze why it might take half a lifetime of banging before we stop, or how the very last bang is critical or easy or difficult, or that the cessation of the effort of banging is simple but not easy, or that the simplicity of stopping is just another aspect of cultural entitlement…we can accumulate and build on all of these concepts. Or we can simply stop banging our heads against the wall.

    Awakening is simple. It is a gentle, unoccupied mind–a passive watchfulness, which already is. It seemingly is not, when we put in the effort to accumulate concepts.

    Awakening is simple. The seeming difficulties are overcome with releasing.

    Shanti,
    Kaushik

    Reply
  20. Hi Kaushik,

    I too think that awakening is a stopping/experience of attentiveness that is already but which we tend to ‘forget’.

    I introduced the distinction of simple and easy to resolve what I thought was an unnecessary disagreement (necessary disagreements good, unnecessary disagreements bad).

    Reply
  21. Hi Evan,

    Thanks. You’re right. No problem with disagreements. It’s breaking through to a still, gentle unoccupied mind, where all concepts are absent.

    Kaushik

    Reply
  22. Good article! I also find that as well as releasing emotions and gaining awareness, it is important to become aware of any judgments we are holding about ourselves or our world that are limiting us, and release them too.

    Reply
    • @Aannsha, You’re absolutely right, releasing beliefs (judgments) is critical. Thanks!

      Reply

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