We spend most of our lives asleep. By this we mean living not in accordance with our own perceptions, but according to the interpretations and values given to us by others. Even when we feel we are making conscious, adult choices we are largely reacting according to programs that were imprinted on us in early childhood. Such an unconscious guidance system reduces the effort it takes to navigate through life. Unfortunately, it also means that our responses to events will often be inappropriate. This is because pre-programmed responses are inflexible, unable to take into account different circumstances or changing values. Our responses will be imperfectly aligned with the events we are responding to, and this lack of alignment creates some degree of discomfort within us, which can vary from a subliminal uneasiness to overt feelings of anger, resentment or fear.
Awakening involves a deliberate, conscious choice to perceive both our inner world and the outer world as they truly are. To accomplish this we need to recognize the unconscious filters through which we see those worlds, and to understand the unconscious programs by which we live our lives. As our awareness and understanding of these programs grow we may be able to discard the ones that cause us the most discomfort, and replace them with consciously chosen responses that are more in tune with the situation.
As we work to awaken, our feelings about the events around us, both positive and negative, become stronger and sharper. At the same time, the constant sense of unease that most of us live with diminishes. That gives us a new sense of confidence and control that paradoxically allows us to relinquish control, to "go with the flow", since we are now moving with the current of our life rather than constantly fighting it.
Awakening to our true nature as conscious beings and to the true nature of the world we live in is a lifelong journey. It leads us to unexpected realizations and a constant stream of new wonders. It is the jewel at the center of our existence, costing nothing but of infinite value.