A couple of decades ago, in my early yoga years, I was introduced to a concept that has followed me to this day whenever I feel stuck in unhelpful habits. The concept describes the different levels of awareness and consciousness we experience in different areas of our life.
You might think: I am either aware I have an issue or I'm not. I am either awake or asleep.
In fact, it isn't so black and white. There are actually 4 stages of awareness, which are described below.
As you read on, notice how some apply to your experience but also to people around you. Ultimately, you might experience more compassion for the stages you or these people are at.
1. Unconsciously unconscious
This first stage, unconsciously unconscious, is a bit of a tongue twister! It represents the state of mind of someone who may indulge in behaviors that are not serving them. The tricky part is that they are not aware that these behaviors are not serving them or that they need to make a change.
They are simply “asleep” in this part of their life. It is also referred to the "robot" mind of automatic reactions.
2. Consciously unconscious
In the 2nd stage, this person becomes aware of the behavior and how it may affect their loved ones or their health, for example.
Yet, they either choose not to do anything about it or they feel they aren't able to.
They start to “wake up” but the energy required to create change hasn’t been gathered yet.
3. Consciously conscious
In the 3rd stage, they begin to move into action to address the behavior. They are aware of their tendencies and they are also able to change course or choose differently before indulging in the behavior.
This is analogous to the “awakening” process in mindfulness.
4. Unconsciously conscious
In the last stage, the idea of indulging in this behavior is simply not part of their thought process or their reality anymore.
They do not have to exert any kind of effort or thought toward it, it has simply become a way of being.
If they created change in their lives through stage 3, they have now embodied this change and it has become second nature.
Obviously, we all find ourselves at different stages on the spectrum of awareness in different areas of our lives.
You might start being aware that your job is depleting your soul but aren't able to do anything about it at this stage (2) or you’ve been struggling with taking things personally with your partner, but these days, you are able to catch yourself before reacting and feel more grounded in your responses (3).
Think of different areas of your life. Your relationships, your health, some of your automatic reactions, can you take inventory of what awareness categories they fall into?
And if you find yourself stuck in stage 2 in an area of your life, there are probably old stories standing in the way. The stories we were told, the stories we tell ourselves, the limiting beliefs, and essentially the internal blocks that are keeping you from moving forward.
If you are ready for the next stage of awakening, consider working with someone to help you clear the blocks and step into a new level of conscious awareness.