Alan Briskin | Jo Lee Magazine



Path To Self Awareness

Awareness Ten




I am told that Buddhist sutras open with the word Nyozgamon, which means ‘I heard it like this.’ 


What I like about these five words is that they make room for the listener to reflect back what was heard while still adding new depth and meaning. 


Many years ago I heard a wonderful talk by the Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax on the ten steps toward self awareness. These steps are hidden from the eye but available to everyone. We can practice each step separately but when joined together, they become powerful tools for transformation.





The tenth step is ENGAGEMENT.  


What kind of engagement? 


An intentional form of cognitive and emotional engagement achieved through practice.  Practice is what brings to life increased self awareness. Practice is what allows for refined neuro-cognitive linkages to form in our brain.  Practice is what allows for knowing the difference between spontaneous action and intentional restraint.  Wisdom cannot be gained through lofty thoughts alone, if at all.  However, joined with practice, each of us can become life long learners, more skillful through encounter and engagement with the world.


The multiple paths of self awareness bring the attention inward.  This is the paradoxical discovery that complements outward engagement.  We become witnesses to the many selves constellated within ourselves.  We become more at ease with unconscious processes because we realize that the conscious mind is not the sole master of our thoughts and feelings.  Instead we become co-creators with our inner life, tending to the living springs that nourish us and allowing a flow toward the interconnected emotional waters we call compassion.


At some point along the journey, engagement with inner self and outer world become more fluid.  How could it be otherwise if we embrace the many paths of self awareness –  knowledge with affect, intention with non-attachment, moral sensitivity with the ability to distinguish self from other. How much more satisfying it is when we become disciplined non judgmental observers of our mind’s activities and respectful companions to our body’s wisdom.  No longer living in a simple duality between this or that, we become weavers of a multi-colored tapestry that includes self and world, the world and the Self.





Comments are closed.