The First Step Towards Enlightenment: Waking Up

Time To Wake Up

What is this about?

This post is about the first step in the enlightenment process… which is waking up. If you have ever considered yourself a spiritual person or a seeker of truth; keep on reading.

Finding your Path

As a young man, you go through several important stages. First you graduate from high school, then college, and then it’s time to get a job or go back to school. You accumulate debt from student loans, credit cards, mortgages, divorce and then you are supposed to spend the next 45 years sitting in a cubicle paying off your debt. This system has worked well for many decades. It allows modern life to run.

If you at any point stray from this path your friends, family or co-workers tell will quickly try to redirect you.

They mean well.

You must be what society tells you to be and you must not deviate from the norm. Fit in, do not stand out or speak up and especially… be nice. You assume that because they have been through it before they know better and that you should listen.

You are Either a Spectator or a Player

Perhaps they can provide some valuable insight, but they can’t tell you how to best live your life. There is a great scene in The Matrix, where Neo is given the choice of taking the blue pill or the red pill. He can go back to sleep and live his simple boring life in the fake world (The Matrix) or he can wake up to reality. Neo is curious enough about it so he decides to wake up and start living in reality.

You should do the same.

Modern life has created the Matrix for us to live in. If we don’t consciously choose to live outside of its grasp, we are part of it.  You are either a SPECTATOR or a PLAYER.

Make your choice.

Wake up Time

I fell into this way (spectator) of thinking for most of my life. For more than two decades, I assumed that to be happy, I needed a well-paying job, a fitness model physique, an upper middle class home, a hot wife, and two kids (boy and a girl of course). Fantasies of BMW’s and high rise modern condos flooded my mind. I thought money and all the shit I could by with it, would make me happy. I was wrong.

Ironically, it was a wild “Mancation” weekend in Chicago that woke me up. I was with some of my good friends and we were in a town where people did not know us. I could be anyone.

I felt free.

I could “be” whoever I wanted to be. Even in my drunken stupor, I realized it was the first time in my adult life that I was able to let go of my ego. The mask had come off and the inner dialogue that had plagued me my whole life was also turned off. I also understood that it was not the alcohol that made me feel free, but it was my state of mind. I had stopped being the spectator and became a PLAYER.

If I could create this state of mind on a foolish weekend, why can’t I create this state of mind all of the time?

Seeking Truth

The moments from that weekend are incredibly vivid. And when I returned home, I began searching for answers. Why did I feel so good and free in those moments? How can I recreate these feelings? Why had my mind created all those blind spots for so long?

I knew that it was no longer possible for me to go back to my old ways.

Books, documentaries, podcasts became part of my daily routine. Exploring consciousness, being present and discovering myself became my goal. I took immense action, because I wanted to. I couldn’t really tell where I was headed and where I would end up.

Learning to Turn Off

I started meditating, being mindful and practicing being present.  One thing became massively apparent; I was incomplete. I had focused the last 5 years of my life on nutrition and fitness and my mind, soul and calling were completely neglected.

Many people see meditation as a means to concentrate on a specific task. I see it as a way to learn your “Off” button. We spend so much time trapped in front of the computer, TV, tablet, IPhone etc. That we need constant stimulation. Otherwise we are bored.

When you learn to find your “Off” button the universe begins to open up once again. You start seeing your blind spots and recognizing where you are incomplete. Your once stale mind becomes creative, you become smarter and you see the immense beauty and depth in life. TV, Sports, and other mindless activities seem tedious.

Alex Grey Meditation

This is just the tip of the Iceberg.

Why is everything so funny?

Something very strange happens to you, when you start meditating and exploring consciousness. Everything seems funny. Anyone who has had this epiphany will know what I’m talking about.

An overwhelming feeling of good and completeness overtook me. I could not stop laughing. The miniscule details that seemed huge to me were now hilarious. Two decades of my life worrying about complete bullshit, began to vanish.

This is the beginning of finding your path.

Pulling something from the nothingness

During our lives we create insecurities about ourselves and in order to cover up our wounds we start putting on masks. This is a natural protective mechanism. In these situations, the Ego is created. We find logical reasons, not to be confident and take on the uncertainties of life. We look to the leaders and the group to learn how to behave in our social settings.

When you remove your ego, social conditioning, group think and the opinions of those close to you, your path comes into focus. Trim the fat, remove the roadblocks and you can find yourself.

When your path begins to immerge, jump on it. Do not wait for your path to become fully clear, because it never will.

I do not know where my path leads, but for the first time in my life I am walking it.


The Real You

About Ben Austin

My friends call me the illegitimate love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye. I’m a bodybuilding-yogi-science loving-foodie bringing an engineering approach to lifestyle design. Join me as I analyze the systems that go into optimal mental and physical performance and explore the stories and tactics of people who set the standard for the rest of us.
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  • Edgardo V Reyes

    Great post! Some years ago I had terrible moments suffering from anxiety and depression, I think all of that was precluding my “waking up” experience which I think finally happened this summer (after a very intense depression again).

    Nowadays, taking the “wake up” expression literally, I sometimes see at how people are living their lives and I feel they are living in a dream in which they play characters with roles they think are the way for finding “happines” but for me they are only sleepwalking, like they are living within a dream or sometimes a nightmare.

    While reading your post I noticed you sometime refeer to some experiences, feelings or thoughts as “just the beginning”. What is the meaning of this? I mean… which path are we following trough this “waking up” experience and which is our destination…