The Phases of Awareness Work

An Outline of Progressions and Plateaus

Introducing the Idea of Phases

The numbered phases shown below are representative of those normally encountered in an awareness curriculum, and they have been ordered according to the observed patterns by which students tend to sooner or later confront and either simultaneously deal with them or fail the course entirely. That said, the order and exactness of each phase may vary, but to what degree depends upon the student’s attitudes and abilities to comprehend and make use of what has been learned and experienced. Occasionally a phase may even seem to be combined with another phase, or seemingly bypassed altogether. Nonetheless, each phase represents a learning process that must at some point and in some way be addressed, and cannot altogether be ignored. But one thing that does not vary a great deal is the washout rate for some of the more trying phases, a rate that, in some instances, can seem to be nothing short of staggering. Sadly, the reasons for this high dropout rate are nearly impossible to explain to the student beforehand, but that are simple, straightforward, and usually obvious to behold in hindsight. Historically, once a student exits the learning process and reverts back to their previous lifestyle they usually go no further with this work, and may even forget and lose most if not all of what had been learned. To say that the awareness path narrows with distance traveled is something of a gross understatement, it rapidly getting so narrow that nearly everyone has fallen off rather quickly and essentially disappeared.

Some people might argue that this high wipe-out rate is a sure testament to this work’s efficacy, quickly filtering anyone deemed unfit to know and use the secrets of consciousness, while other individuals might choose to see this as a sign that this work is of no value. Whatever the case might turn out to be, only a handful of aspirants have ever gotten very far with this particular work. This seems to be mainly due to two things: (1) the exaggerated resistance and often outright hatred of having to squarely and honestly look at and then deal with oneself, and (2) the perceived difficulty of the often intangible subject matter coupled with a strong fear of the rapid lifestyle changes that go hand in hand with awareness progress. Consequently, the student can be overwhelmed and if he or she refuses to deal with the inner and outer reality changes they will likely succumb to self-generated fear and panic, running away in the hope of not having to deal with themselves or the changes that are taking place. Because so few students allow themselves to get very far along in the awareness process before bolting, and the fact that the eventual washout rate is near 100%, there is nobody engaged in this work that has the time or inclination to go out and talk about or support this kind of self-help process, which accounts for why you will probably never hear or read about this particular kind of inner work anywhere other than this web site.

For me personally it is easy to empathize with the new student and the seemingly ferocious and paradoxical issues and obstacles they will surely face. Even so, there is no way around what might at times seem to be a difficult trial by fire experience. If it were easy a lot of people would be doing it, but it is definitely not easy, mostly due to the mental resistance generated by the participant. If anything, it is possibly the most paradoxically difficult study topic that someone will ever encounter. Not only must the student comprehend the precise meanings of the words and phrases used, but he or she will have to apply that knowledge in an excruciatingly perfect way to achieve outstanding results. Moreover, the student must sooner or later face every thing they have ever tried to avoid, resolving each and every bit of denial accumulated over however many lifetimes they have endured up to this point in time. On the up side, if it is change and a new life experience that you want this work will certainly do it. Moreover, the rewards of accomplishment reserved for the few intrepid and heroic souls who are persistent and fortunate enough to make it all the way though are, in my humble opinion, worth the time and effort, and the journey for the most part will have been an exciting one, too.

Typically this work seems to be a process whereby the student gets to experience an exciting and progressive step forward, usually following an epiphany whereby an unexpected gain in understanding regarding some aspect of the work occurs. But then the student inevitably experiences what feels like a big step backward. This is a normal occurrence. By and large this backward seeming step includes becoming confused about and/or completely forgetting any prior successes, which in some cases could have occurred literally moments earlier. Moreover, this interlude also provides a time space whereby the student gets to collect their wits while under pressure and then put into practice any awareness principles that have been instilled up to that point. If the student can maintain their wits and have enough trust to follow the guidance of whoever might be working with them, they can get to the place where the confusion becomes an accepted and even welcomed part of the process and ultimate success will be realized. And if the student does their work any confusion will soon abate, leaving the path ahead clearer than ever before. Just keep in mind that in nature, as in this awareness work, the cleansing and rejuvenating storm always precedes the clearing, when everything is cleansed, refreshed, and life evolves into something new.

The Phases and Setbacks of Progress

Each of the phases enumerated below is followed by pertinent comments, which more or less attempt to amplify, explain, and clarify what the brief title line of each phrase implies. But please note that this list is not intended nor guaranteed to be complete or an all inclusive compilation by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it is just a simple and casual multi-part enumeration of what may come to pass, so as to possibly help to prepare an interested party in what possibly lies ahead for the prospective student.

1. Introduction to the idea and possible merits of this awareness work:
One of two possibilities usually occurs right off; the person is either interested and eagerly wants to know more or instead rebuffs the awareness ideas and any possibilities presented. The rebuff is by far the more common knee-jerk response, and it usually signals the end of any further conversation or interest in the subject, no matter whether a continuing friendship exists, or not. For instance, I have numerous friends and acquaintances around which I never speak of nor hint about this awareness work, which I love doing for myself. I only speak about it if someone explicitly does or says something that invites and/or specifically motivates me to broach the subject, and then if I sense any resistance I immediately stop any further mention of it. I will share it, but not push nor promote it. This allows the person complete freedom to move closer or fall away without any push nor pull from me, which is the loving thing to do.
2. Initial excitement over the prospects of what this work can theoretically accomplish:
There is oftentimes an initial, exaggerated excitement and anticipation of what splendid and awesome miracles are theoretically possible. This phase is usually sweet and quite short, as the realization dawns that to obtain any hoped for eventualities will require a long term diligence and dedication that few people seem to possess.
3. Initiation of the resistive and defensive sleep and illness prone learning phase.
During the initial instructive learning period (but usually to a lesser degree during later instructive sessions) when new ideas and concepts are introduced and/or encountered and are perceived as capable of canceling out or upsetting embedded judgmental content, such as old ideas, notions, beliefs, truths, habitual behavior, and so on, certain automatic defenses will tend to be triggered. These otherwise subdued and/or hidden defenses can become quite strong and seemingly unstoppable. Once any such judgmental defenses are initiated the student can quickly become unavoidably resistive. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to, the person becoming extremely drowsy, sleepy, and/or confused.  Yawning and fidgeting are common onset signs, with the defensive symptoms going all the way to the person falling into deep, almost comatose sleep. Some students go so far as to conjure up phantom illnesses, diseases, or injuries, and then, of course, use these symptoms as a "real" excuse to avoid any further awareness work. This kind of self-induced symptomatic sabotage is so common and predictable that it is laughable. The student wash-out rate is high because of these kinds of self-inspired, self-triggered defenses designed to escape anything that might change the status quo.
4. Realization of the immensity of the subject, and the effort and study that will be required to master it.
No matter how sternly or diligently the prospective student is warned beforehand about the difficulties and heroic effort that will be required they always rationalize away the warnings and prefer to happily think that they can mount any challenge, paradox, and retracement without hesitation or fail. But this unrealistic outlook is made before anything difficult or frightening is encountered, and so this kind of manufactured “positive” attitude has no basis in actuality. Still, the warnings are freely given and the inquiring student keeps on pushing them aside, choosing to view them as unfounded, irrelevant, and/or something to be forgotten.
5. Initial failure to quickly bring about any amazing results, whereupon disillusionment and sometimes depression follow the realization of how difficult the process can be and how much dedication and long term effort is required to achieve any significant results.
This is a phase when the casually inclined student stops, washes out, and happily disappears, unable to muster the dedication and courage needed to go on for one more little step of the journey. It is goodbye time for most, and the lazy student is better off leaving at this point, long before he or she opens up something they are unwilling to deal with and consequently cannot then move forward or back out of what can be turned into an unpleasant situation. Occasionally an uninspired student may linger a bit longer, but never really catch on to what this work is all about and finally just drifts quietly away.
6. Re-evaluation of this work and what is necessary and then cautiously choose to go on, but at perhaps a more realistic learning pace.
Here the student becomes a little more realistic about what to expect and not expect, and also begins to have a useful feel for what this work requires. The realization is dawning that this work is not a quick fix, but instead a long term adventure that offers much growth potential, but only if and when the student is willing to invest the time and effort. You get back what you put in, nothing more or less.
7. General excitement, renewed confidence, and a sense of purpose prevails when enough awareness is finally achieved to begin truly understanding, seeing, and resolving embedded mental attitudes and judgments.
This is a time of great appreciation for what this work can accomplish, albeit still a shallow understanding of what still lies ahead. This phase can last for months or a few years, depending upon the study interest and willingness of the person to move into and deal with unpleasant aspects of the Self. However, I have seen this phase come to a very abrupt end, changing from a time of excitement and rapid growth to one of unbelievably difficult to deal with self-projected suspicion, distrust and blame if and when certain old denials holding distrust pop open for resolution.
8. Intensely projected blame, distrust, doubt, disbelief, misgivings, suspicion, skepticism, paranoia, and accusations of all kinds that are directed toward not only someone facilitating awareness studies, but the projections can easily extend outward to “innocent” family members, friends, and associates.
This is a common affliction for the student who prefers to see outer reality as "real," and the degree of hazard here cannot be understated. It is a crucial moment when embedded and “hidden” aspects of the mentality become sufficiently activated so as to easily pour forth with unexpected power, so much so that the principle of reflections can easily be lost, forgotten, and pushed asunder before the student realizes his or her peril. When this happens and the student chooses to not see reflections he or she will instead see what is perceived as “real” and causal. Consequently, what those formerly more or less dormant parts of the mentality hold as actuality or truth is then erroneously projected outward onto anyone or anything selected as a target, causing the person doing the projecting to perceive that the person or thing of focus as doing unto them whatever is held within the activated mentality. From an awareness work perspective this is a moment the student has been working to attain, when lost parts of the mentality are highly triggered and therefore visible and easy to see, understand, touch, communicate with, and resolve. But instead of taking the opportunity to heal, the student almost invariably makes what is projected outward real and flames out, accusing and attacking the people around them, losing track of any awareness progress altogether. The washout rate at this point is probably around 99% or greater. Moreover, if a student quits at this point it is almost a given that they will forget and disinherit anything they have learned about how to cope with and resolve such situations. These ex-students get lost within their mentality and tend to judge and justify their actions according to what the triggered mentality holds, which usually translates into the person becoming thereafter hostile toward this kind of work and its facilitators, and do this for reasons they may then be unable to understand or resolve.
9. Sense of grandeur and awe, but sooner or later coupled with fear and/or terror:
When the student first begins to experience the upward expansion and expression of the Will aspect, and its awesome knowledge and power, this can be a time of stupendous awe and appreciation for the vastness of the Will and its feelings. More often than not, however, it is a time of terror for the person who fears their personal power. Yet, for anyone who welcomes it, this can be a time of joyous expansion, but one that is usually soon tempered after the initial flowing of the Will, when the more deeply compressed and ominous feelings and reality constructs necessarily begin to emerge. Once this phase begins the student MUST be vigilant and prepared for “lost” feelings and realities to pop open at any time without much if any prior warning, and instantly remember and know how to deal with these sudden emerging situations without wasting a moment trying to figure things out. It will be too late to learn at this point; understanding must already be present and the student ready to respond. But if you are vigilant and keenly aware you will successfully meet and weather the inner and outer reality storms that would otherwise take you by surprise and trample you asunder. At this phase of the awareness game it becomes more or less a pass or fail course. There is no intermediate grade.
10. Jubilation when some initial ability to successfully work with and usefully comprehend the Will aspect is finally achieved:
This sense of vibrant jubilation will ebb and flow depending upon what old and denied Will feelings and lost reality are gushing up for expression and release. As the process moves forward the time will be reached when the very much more repressed and compressed stuff will finally begin to bubble up to the surface. This is when the gray taste and smell of death will begin to uproot and permeate the student, and cause them to wonder what they have gotten themselves into and wonder if they should give up and quit, or not. Nothing can prepare the student for this moment, when the causative factors lying behind the experience of death and decay are first felt, seen, tasted, and fully realized.
11. Depression, hopelessness, melancholy and inadequacy surface when the sheer enormity of what still lies before the student begins to realistically dawn.
As more and more sickened and dead Will energy expands up and outward it will bring along with it bits of lost mentality that went into denial along with the Will aspect. As the recovery of the Self progresses the mentality will naturally become more gradually present and aware of its circumstances. This increase in awareness can over time be dramatic, and coupled with the increasing knowledge of the Will aspect and what it still holds in denial, more and more realization of the totality and immensity of the mess that has befallen the individual becomes ever more evident and obvious. In some students this awakening can trigger a sense of overwhelming hopelessness and inadequacy, causing the student to doubt that he or she can ever recover from the across-the-board disaster that is finally being realized and that, for the most part, still confronts it. On the other hand, being in this position can be considered to be a wonderful advantage, because the student is now in a position to look back and see how much of its lost mentality and Will essence has been successfully recovered, which serves to prove that a recovery is indeed possible. At this point it is fairly easy to recognize that if the student simply pushes on and continues the work, bit by bit, it can continue to easily improve its situation.
12. Recovery and exhilaration as the awesome possibilities of this work become extensively more grand and self-evident, as well as appealing.
This is a time when the student is awe struck at what might be within the realm of accomplishment, and is now beginning to experience some truly useful degree of mental connection and integration with the Will aspect. The student also tends to become frustrated and impatient due to seeing and feeling so much more, knowing more, and wanting to achieve more and do so ever more quickly, but unable to yet reach out and firmly touch the newly forming horizon.
13. Long days and months of misery and utterly dreary hopelessness as the mentality and especially the Will aspect begin to expand, unload and express out some of the most dense misery, lifelessness, lethargy and the death that has been weighing them down for eons.
While just getting to this phase might be considered a triumphal moment, it is also a time when it becomes necessary to feel, experience, and deal with some very sour and unpleasant denials that just seem to keep slowly seeping up and out. It is a time to experience essence that has been so lost and depressed that it has no desire whatsoever to live, and just wants to die and go forever extinct. While this may not be physically painful, it is nonetheless a painfully agonizing period to accept and work through. The hazard of dealing with this kind of stuff is that if the mentality gets lost and judges what is being felt and experienced as “real” or actual, thus forgetting this awareness work by not realizing that what is taking place is a release and resolution process, it erroneously transforms what could have otherwise been forever released and healed into an ongoing nightmare, making things worse rather than better.
14. Long periods of meditative rest while using all of the awareness techniques learned so as to fully accept and effectively deal with and release any old denials still percolating up and out of one’s depths.
This phase is welcomed in that it portents a “light at the end of the tunnel.” The disgorging rate and intensity of some putrid old denials has lessened, which then provides some time for integration of the old with the new. Long periods of unquenchable tiredness and lethargy are characteristic for this part of the recovery process and must not be judged in any way, or else the release process will be interrupted and possibly terminated. This is a time to allow any remaining energy ready to express out to do so and then come to full rest of its own accord.
15. An increasing sense of lightness when what seems like an immense and age-old sense of hard density and weight begins to gradually dissipate and lift:
This phase includes a growing sense of inner happiness coupled with a flicker of desire by the personal body to voluntarily revive itself and come back into alignment with the rest of the Self and to live perpetually of its own accord and desire. This part of the process cannot be adequately described, only experienced, but it is gratifying and wonderful. There are moments of exhilaration when it logically and intuitively looks to be that anything can be accomplished given the passion, dedication, and time to understand and undertake whatever steps are necessary. It is a nice testament to the efficacy of this awareness work if honestly used to its utmost, but it is also a time to be realistic and to avoid being arrogant and imagine that one has achieve abilities beyond their actual immediate capability.
16. This will be a phase of doing, when the basic lessons of awareness have been thoroughly learned and put into practice, and when the student is ready to become a master of sorts, easily and naturally applying all that has been learned and achieved.
Learning will go on, probably forever, but it will no longer be the main intent and focus. Further advancement will come organically as one of the many products of action and of living life more fully.
17. An ever more advanced continuation of the awareness recovery process and the gradual return of the still relatively fragmented individual to their original unfragmented, godlike state.
What is suggested here is certainly a goal worthy of achievement, but, considering the amount of recovery and resolution work that still remains, whether, or not, such an idealistic state of being can ever be attained within a single lifetime, if at all, remains to be seen. That said, it is worth trying, if for no other reason than the worst that can happen is that the aspirant will suffer along in life just like everybody else. But what if by some slim chance the aspirant does somehow manage to succeed, and forever leave behind the travails that continue to curse humankind?

Clearly the aforementioned phases are not the end of the awareness process. Exactly where it can and ultimately might end is still unknown to me, at least at this moment, but nonetheless still fun to speculate. In the meantime, it pays to remember that any still inescapable limits imposed and reflected back by physical outer reality should temper any exaggerated mental hopes and wishful dreams that one may secretly harbor. It is these temporarily seeming impassable limits that serve as a useful measure of where someone is on the overall achievement scale, which at the time of this writing, using a scale of 0 to 100, we are hovering just a smidgen above zero.

April 30, 2008