Are You Awake?

I woke up one day…for a moment.

I heard my mother’s voice calling me from the bottom of the stairs: “Are you awake?”

It was the same voice I’d heard as a teenager when I overslept, and mom was nervous I’d be late for school.

But this time I wasn’t a teenager. I was 57. And it wasn’t my mother’s voice. It was my voice, my inner voice. And I wasn’t in bed. I was at work. Darting in and out of meetings. Answering the phone. Responding to emails. Earning my daily bread.

And the “Are you awake?” voice was haunting me, nagging me. Inviting me. Again.

This time it got my attention.

I stopped. Closed my office door. Asked myself, “Am I awake?”

No. I answered the voice.

I’m not awake. I feel numb. Cold. Like I’m on automatic pilot. Going through the motions, spiting out endless work product. Moving from one task to the other like an automaton. And grumbling.

As I sank into my office chair getting honest with myself, the words of a wise mentor reminded me of a simple truth.

There are three levels of awareness, three types of being awake:

Ordinary (the typical mind, thinking in endless circles and spirals);

Spiritual (the inner nudge inviting us to see and experience life’s beauty, its harmony, and our belonging); and

Divine (those moments when we connect with the Presence of God in ourselves, in others, and in all things).

I was living my life at the ordinary level. Bland. Lifeless. On Autopilot. And the voice inside me was nudging me to escape those doldrums.

I turned my chair to look out the window. A chubby red robin poking for worms in the spring ground caught my eye.

Nothing unusual. A crazy bird pecking the dirt to get her daily bread, I mumbled. Ordinary.

But then, I felt the inner nudge, and my awareness shifted. I noticed the robin’s beauty, her throbbing rich red chest. Her deep black eyes circled in tiny gold silky feathers. Her patience. Her elegance. Spiritual.

She stopped. Turned her head and looked back at me. Our eyes joined. I could feel an almost divine energy flowing back and forth within our gaze. For a split second our lives were connected. Interwoven. Linked. United—she observing my presence and I admiring her beauty. Divine.

As I turned my chair back around refocusing on my work, I became more intentional about naming the movement within myself between these levels of awareness.

Instead of rushing thru the next task, I began to move more slowly, intentionally. Pausing. Breathing more deeply. Recognizing the gift of my work: an opportunity to assist and connect with others. I became more alert to the Presence in each moment.

As I moved back and forth between the ordinary, the spiritual, and divine awareness, what I once saw as a daily grind soon became a labor of gratitude. And for a moment, my life was no longer mindless prose, but rich poetry steeped and brimming with inner awakening.

—Brian Plachta







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