Raising Consciousness: The Journey in Waking Up to our True Potential

Albert Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We’ve certainly created a vast array of problems in our modern world. Climate change threatens mass extinction, we have ongoing wars, economic inequality and oppression, sex trafficking, huge discrimination and acts of violence across gender, racial, and religious divides. When it comes down to it, there are vast disconnections within ourselves and between each other. How do we raise our consciousness to the level in which we can adequately address together the problems we face as a species?

It seems that we need a mass awakening in the consciousness of humanity. If we raise our consciousness to a vibration where we can all work together to truly solve our problems, then we can shift out of the kind of disconnected thinking that created these problems to begin with. This article will lay out some of the features I believe are necessary for this shift in consciousness. It all starts with individuals waking up to their true potential. 

The Path of Awakening  

Each and every moment is an opportunity to awaken. Any experience, no matter how great or small, carries its lessons. It could be the sunrise, a conversation that touches us deeply, or an unpleasant experience at work. There is actually a divine reason for all of the experiences that come to us. The purpose of our experiences is to help us awaken. We can choose how quickly or slowly we wake up, and life will continuously bring us exactly what we need to learn and grow. When we consciously choose the path of awakening, our growth becomes faster and more sustained. By pursuing the personal path to awakening, we raise our own consciousness and naturally raise the consciousness of all those with whom we come in contact.

Learning Through Experience

Experience is the greatest teacher. The more experience we have with something, the better versed we are at it. Cautioning someone about the dangers of fire only goes so far. Once you feel the fire burn your hand, you quickly understand this lesson through experience.

Experiences tend to repeat themselves until we learn the lessons. Have you ever had an experience happen over and over, until you finally woke up to the pattern and changed your behavior? I once had a client, let’s call her Sally, who was late to everything. Sally wanted to be on time, but found that at the last moment she was missing something crucial: her wallet, phone, keys, even at times her favorite lipstick or shoes. Time and time again she found herself racing around the house looking for “those damn shoes” again. Time and time again she found herself at important business meetings or doctor appointments just a few minutes late. She would apologize profusely and swear to herself to change her ways. Through counseling Sally on this pattern we found something unexpected. It wasn’t until Sally learned that she enjoyed the thrill of being late,  that she could break the pattern. When Sally realized she liked the rush of adrenaline that came from being late and having to drive fast to be on time, she had the key to breaking the pattern. She began to consciously choose to rev her sports car engine on her drives, while simultaneously reaping the benefits of the peace and satisfaction she felt from consistently showing up early to her life. 

Typically, we push away unpleasant experiences and don’t fully learn from them. This resistance keeps us trapped repeating negative cycles over and over like a broken record or a CD that keeps repeating the same track. By opening to the universe and fully hearing the messages, even in unpleasant experiences, we are able to learn and move forward. When we listen to our experiences and feel into them, we allow the lesson to course through our body. In this way, experience can be the great teacher it is meant to be.

Raising Awareness in Others

When you awaken to a certain extent, the desire to help others awaken seems to arise in most people. We want to share the benefits we have received by raising our level of awareness with those around us. When we liberate ourselves from some of the suffering we’ve been trapped in, we naturally want to help our friends and family awaken as well. In this way, humanity has always been learning and growing together. We share our knowledge and wisdom, ideally helping the next generation to become better off and further along. 

Raising Society’s Awareness

Turning toward pain is the way society will wake up. The phenomenon of turning away is what the rock band Pink Floyd sang about in their song, “On the Turning Away.” Through honestly facing the pain and suffering, we raise the level of awareness in ourselves and those around us. The path of the bodhisattva is to work for the freedom of all suffering beings. This path from Buddhism lays out a beautiful way for people of any religion to turn toward the suffering in others and work for their best interests. 

I believe the pains we feel in society have to do with the pains that exist in the individual. We all have a battle going on inside of us for whether to be true to ourselves or whether to be run by fear. Each day we are faced with a myriad of challenges as to whether or not we can be authentic. We all face the forces of disconnection inside our own soul. There are tremendous forces of disconnection at a societal level. The divide between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged, religious division, and the battle of the sexes, to name just a few. 

The pains of this inequity in humanity can be felt by everyone who opens their heart. All we need to do is think about those who are suffering and we can feel the pain in society. By turning toward the suffering in the world when we have the ability, we can bring the light of our loving awareness. This suffering is not meant to make us feel guilty or responsible for all the problems in the world. It is simply meant to help open the heart to the plight of being a human being on earth at this time. 

When I turn my attention to the difficulties the homeless face right now, as we head toward winter, I have more compassion for their experience. I reflect on my own authentic interaction with homelessness on a daily basis, and am moved to approach those asking for money outside of the grocery store. Opening my heart to mass societal and universal issues, like homelessness, can lead to little changes in my daily behavior. When I leave the grocery store, I give my change to the folks asking for money, while looking them in the eyes.  

This opens the possibility for bigger changes to occur. I take out my ballot and scan for measures related to homelessness. I write to my county supervisor and ask them to address the issues of homelessness in our municipality in light of the coming rainy season. I take matters into my own hands – and really, the matters seem to unfold out of my heart and into my hands. As I become more connected to the suffering all around, I am intuitively guided by my own internal compass and change my behavior in subtle and profound ways. Rather than turning away from the suffering all around, I feel into it and feel a surge of energy as I allow it to awaken my awareness and sense of purpose. As I tune into other’s suffering, the compassion I feel raises my awareness and I become authentically connected to my own empowerment. 

Unity Awareness

The indigenous cultures of North America, and many others, use the ethic of understanding the universal interconnectedness they experience. Many Native American tribes start and end their prayers with “All my relations.” This ethic of unity and interconnectedness is necessary for us to solve the problems we face. If we see the problems as simply “other people’s problems,” we will not address them. Martin Luther King Jr. beautifully expressed this sentiment:

In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All {beings} are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be… This is the interrelated structure of reality.

When we awaken to this understanding of how interconnected we are, then we will intuitively be working to solve all the problems we experience together as a species. As a man who lives in a relatively safe town, I can walk freely at night without any fear. I remember the exact moment when I realized this wasn’t the case for everyone. I was in college, walking home in the wee hours of the morning. I noticed a woman walking nearby when I started to sense her agitation. It dawned on me that she was actually afraid of something, and that something was me.  From that moment onward, I started putting myself in the shoes of these women, and began to grow my awareness around how differently it feels to be a woman than a man. 

In a world where rape exists and is predominantly inflicted on women by men, I am at a low risk for experiencing this atrocity. When my heart opens to the sense of impending fear of and pain possible during this experience, I begin to feel some discomfort in my privilege. As my awareness grows through empathy, an issue I am statistically not in danger of experiencing, begins to be my problem too. I start to feel less content living in a world where rape exists.

If men in leadership opened their hearts to the plight of women on this planet, the policies, solutions, and the way governance happens would naturally be different. As more and more women are in positions of leadership, this will also help shift the balance toward increasing empathy and understanding, regarding the unaddressed inequalities women face in our culture. 

The Centrality of the Heart

The wisdom of the heart is central to raising human consciousness. Empathy and truth are two of the powerful virtues of the heart. As an organ, the heart pumps blood and oxygenates every part of the body (with a little help from the lungs, brain, and other organs). Through my own experience of tuning into the heart, I have learned that the heart feels every part of the body as a way to attune to how much blood it needs to pump. The heart empathically tends to the body. Yes, the brain is vastly intelligent and can entertain so many ideas. Yet, in my understanding, it is the heart that can discern the truth. By centering in our hearts, we become capable of empathy and truth at a much greater level than when we center in our minds. 

The Science of the Heart: A New Technology

To most effectively raise human consciousness, I believe we need a technology that helps people to center their awareness in their hearts and love themselves and each other more. Heart-Centered ABA is a technology that I’ve been developing for over 15 years through my practice in helping individuals, families, and business leaders to thrive and connect with themselves and others. It is a form of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is a science of human behavior which has been well established as an evidence-based practice helping people with autism and developmental disabilities. Heart-Centered ABA tracks patterns of dysfunction in their most subtle form. The technology of searching for the dysfunction at its most subtle level gives us access to make changes that will reflect in larger behaviors. This science applies to a wide array of human behavior. Heart-Centered ABA takes the science of human behavior and applies it to every interaction. 

I began organically bringing Heart-Centered practices into my ABA work, especially in difficult cases. I had a particular client with a cyclical pattern of physical violence with his mother. As he became older and stronger, his violence became increasingly concerning and dangerous. I noticed the preamble to the violence started with whining about what he was wanting and not getting. Repeated complaints turned into cursing directed at his mother. The storm of his anger would catch fire as he began to lose control of his body. He would start repeatedly hitting his mother. My ABA colleagues had little success in changing his behaviors by addressing his violence directly. So I tried a different tactic: focusing in on the moment his heart began to close as he realized he was lacking something he really wanted. By helping him change direction at the very beginning of the cycle, in this case at the moment he began complaining, we were able to change the whole course of his disrespectful behavior.

In couples relating, there are oftentimes the dynamic of fighting over who is right. One couple I work with has a long standing argument about how to approach scheduling and running the family. Again, I bring my expertise to hone in on the moment disconnection begins to occur. The moment they go out of empathy with each other and start disagreeing is the moment that can change the whole course of their relating. In this case, coaching the husband to stay in empathy with his wife allowed the conversation to remain a conversation, rather than escalating into a fight. 

By catching the problems in their most subtle seed form, the possibility to change bigger patterns becomes easier and easier. This can be done with individuals in any context where human behavior is occurring. It applies to parenting and families, couples and relationships, businesses and leadership, and work with communities as a whole. Empathy is the force of connection. When we use empathy in every interaction, we have a vehicle for creating a more connected and coherent solution to any problem we wish to address.  

If you look closely at this article, or any of my writing, you will find this science of human behavior embedded in it. All my writing is meant to help shape our awareness into a more loving and evolved version of ourselves. The power of awakening lives is guided by the human heart. By opening our hearts to love, we can awaken more fully to who we truly are. This awakening requires good discernment of our full potential.

What Disconnects Us

While empathy is the energetic way of connecting us, divisive energy is what I have named the literal energy that divides us. Divisive energy is present anytime we divide against our own or someone’s experience. When we relate from divisive energy, we relate with negative value judgmental and critical energy. Simply saying the truth is never divisive. If someone’s car tire is flat and you tell them that, you are simply stating what is. An example of divisiveness is telling someone they are a horrible driver. If you wanted to communicate without divisiveness you would say it seemed your driving was unsafe to me when you went around that turn at that high speed. Truth is factual, while divisive energy is categorically judgmental and condemning. 

Through measuring the amount of divisive energy in an interaction, and learning how to bring more empathy, we are able to more easily make the dynamic work for everyone. Divisive energy can be distinguished by the words people use, the tone of voice they deliver the message with, and the general feeling you get from talking with the person. People who naturally have a lot of empathy and compassion are often a pleasure to be around because they make everything flow easier. Conversely, people who are divisive are unpleasant to be around and generally make interactions difficult. 

Divisive energy occurs both inside of people and in interactions between people. Stopping self-divisive energy from taking over our own thinking is a very powerful tool to awakening. When we have loving and supportive thoughts occupying our mind, we are much more effective than when we have thoughts that are self-critical, blaming, or judgmental. It’s okay to be honestly critical of yourself, to simply notice what is not working. This is not about creating false positivity. We want to use our honesty to serve our potential. When our own mind supports and nurtures our potential we are more capable of responding to the needs of the moment. Similarly, when we are surrounded by people who love and support us, we are stronger than when we have people who doubt and distrust us. 

Everyday Heart-Centeredness

A big part of everyday heart-centered living is listening to the truth of the heart. This truth is simple, clear, and to the point. This truth awakens our consciousness to what we are actually experiencing. Often the truth of the heart is not what the mind wants to look at. By aligning with the truth of the heart, we commit to a path of love and learning which is very powerful and fulfilling. 

One way to experience this more fully is to turn your attention to this moment. What are you feeling in this moment, and what information is embedded in that sensation? I’m typing on a computer, and notice the excess stress in my fingers. I realize that I can relax as I type this. You are reading right now. How is it to read these words on a computer screen? How does it feel to be alive in this moment? Small insights into your own experience builds awareness. These are the little teaching moments, available in every moment when we are aware. 

Everything that comes your way is a potential teacher. It could be the break up of a most significant relationship, it could be the loss of a job, bankruptcy, the death of a loved one, imprisonment or lawsuit, everything is a learning opportunity. The more difficult the experience, the deeper the potential learning is. This is a hard truth that I find I need to keep learning. Life has a tendency to bring us lessons that are just at the threshold of what we can handle. Like in surfing, sometimes we can easily ride the wave and other times we are thrown by the wave and get out of rhythm with the ocean. 

A Vision for Humanity

As the leadership of humanity awakens, I believe we can make a world that works for everyone. Like the heart in the human body working for the good of all the other organs, so too can the leadership tend to the needs of all those who are suffering. If we care enough about the experiences of the other humans on the planet why don’t we help each other out? And, many of us do care in all the little ways we support our friends and family. How would it be if we treated all of humanity like our friends and family? Is it possible to make a world that truly works for everyone?

If enough of us wake up to the fact that we are citizens of this planet and our right role and relationship is as stewards of all the inhabitants of planet earth, then we are truly moving in an inspired direction. This is the direction I believe we are meant to move, to make a world that truly works for everyone.

Heart-Centered Revolutions is a non-profit dedicated to making a world that works for everyone. For this to happen we need heart-centered intelligence and wisdom to rule our planet and be the guiding star that ushers us into the dawning of a new era in humanity. 

Join the Revolution

To join Heart-Centered Revolutions and make a world that works for everyone, sign up for our mailing list. This act places you firmly at the center of our communication channels. By far, the best way to join this revolution, though, is to practice opening your heart and truly coming from empathy and unconditional love for yourself and everyone around you. 

For more on how to bring heart-centered principles into your everyday life, we have a collection of books covering an assortment of topics. You can also continue your exploration of heart-centered principles by reading the articles on our blog. We also offer business consulting and personal and parenting coaching.  

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Heart-Centered Revolutions is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to forging a world that works for everyone. We can’t do it alone – we need you!

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