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Friday, July 29, 2011

Lost Consciousness

When you are awake, thinking and responding in some why or another to the world around you, you are conscious. You know you are conscious because you have a sense of what's around you and a sense of being present in the world. It's not difficult to understand what consciousness is. But it is a little harder to grasp the idea that there are different levels of consciousness.

Many people spend much of their waking hours in lower levels of consciousness. The lowest level of consciousness is when a person is thinking of something while doing something else. It is easy to get lost in thought and forget what you are doing or what you did while in the lower level. If you have ever lost your keys, forgotten where you parked your car, gone into a room and forgot why you went there, put an item on top of your car to open the door and drove off with the item still on top of the car, called someone on the phone and forgot who you called, or forgot whether or not you took your pills; you know exactly what I'm talking about. You were in the lowest level of consciousness - "waking sleep." We have all done these things or something similar. It's because it takes very little, if any, effort to be in this state of waking sleep.

We can have all the intention in the world to be totally awake and in the moment but for some reason the mind will begin to wander out of the moment and we will lose track of what we are doing. It's like we automatically fall back into waking sleep before we know it. It takes effort to stay in a higher level of consciousness and because of that, the mind will slide into waking sleep before we know it. It most often happens when we become distracted or bored.

I can be driving down the highway in full awareness - feeling my hands on the wheel, foot on the pedal, aware of the traffic and feeling completely in the moment and not thinking of anything but driving. I might be saying to myself, "I am driving down the highway now. The traffic is rather fast this morning. The car ahead of me is passing the car in front of it." And then a road sign appears to the side with a picture of some food, advertising a local cafe. My thoughts turn to, "That was quite a meal we had last night. The salad was superb and the fresh salmon was excellent. I would like to go there again sometime. I especially liked the cute waitress." In a split second my full attention to driving became waking sleep.


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