Thoughts on the struggle with awareness and its effects

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always felt that there is a struggle with being aware when we are born.  For some, the residue of this continues for a big part of our life.  In fact, it seems to me that we are all continuously struggling to be aware to the point that we could say that life is nothing but a continuous struggle with awareness.


It seems to me that awareness begins in the womb.  That is to say, we begin to be aware while we are resting in the womb, though it is very limited awareness.  Its effects, though, are felt throughout our life.  I seem to think that this awareness in the womb is felt by all people but to varying degree’s, such as:

  • For most people it gets lost in the depths of their mind.
  • For other people, its forgotten but surfaces in other ways, such as religious feelings.
  • For some people it is very strong and persists throughout life, often creating a spiritual outlook.

Much of where one is a result of a number of qualities.  Some of these qualities that may affect different people include:

  • A persons innate character
  • A tendency to under or over-sensitivity.
  • Unique events or happenings in the womb.
  • Health conditions.

The awareness in the womb seems to originate from a number of things, such as:

  • Breathing.  I often think this is the “first awareness” one has that is really fully defined and constant.
  • A sensation around the mouth.  This seems to be a result of breathing and may be a result of fluid passing through the mouth as one breaths in the womb.  This may cause a predisposition to a “focusing” on the mouth as a means to associate with the world.  It seems, to me, that this tendency eventually leads to the importance of speech.
  • Movement.  This primarily refers to the sensations of the muscles as the child moves about in the womb.  This is because there is no interplay with objects or space relations at this point in ones life.
  • Skin sensation.  Moving around, and perhaps variations in temperature, may lead to a sensation on ones skin that a child can sense.
  • A “floating awareness” or an “unattached awareness”.  This is an awareness that is not attached to any sensation.  In a sense, it is as if a “door of perception” is open which may or may not sense anything.  When its not sensing anything specific, I would refer to it as “floating awareness” or “unattached awareness”.
  • Desires and wants.  I seem to think that desires and wants can begin to be felt in the womb.

Some of the senses that awareness in the womb causes include:

  • A sense of “allness”, that everything is “one”.  In the darkness of the womb, everything is “one”.
  • There is no distinction between self and world.  This is because there is no self and no world is differentiated.
  • A sense of a “livingness”, or some “energy”, as part of the awareness.  What we are really feeling, in this case, is our own sense of being alive.  This may be involved with desires and wants.
  • A rhythmic or cyclic sense, of things happening on a somewhat regular basis.  This could originate from things like the cycle of breathing and the alternation of being aware and not aware.

I think that these senses are the base of a spirituality and religious feelings.  In other words, spirituality and religious feelings actually originate from the awareness in the womb.  For some people these senses can become profound and cause an intense and involved spirituality.  In fact, I tend to believe that spirituality is trying to regain this original awareness that originates in the womb. Because this awareness is the beginning of a “deep awareness” I often speak of the awareness in the womb as the “base awareness”

I sometimes think that some people become so aware in the womb that they have a hard time dealing with it.  In this way, it as if “drives them up the wall” while in the womb.  This, it seems, persists after they are born, often influencing their character.  I often wonder if this predisposes some people to a “nervous disposition”.  When one becomes over-aware in the womb there is nowhere for it to go and react.  As a result, this causes a tension that one holds “within”.   In this way, one as if is sitting there with all this tension and no outlet.


The events following birth, it seems to me, can become quite a shock in regard to awareness.  All of a sudden, we are bombarded with things like:

  • Being awake and alert.
  • Sensations.
  • Feelings.
  • Desires.
  • Unpleasant feelings.
  • Reactions.

All of these, of course, we have never experienced before . . . they are totally new.  This is the case whether we want it or not, whether we are ready or not . . . we are forced to be aware.  Its because of this that I call this “forced awareness”.  In some respects, in the same way that a mother goes through labor to give birth the child goes through a labor of its own, of giving “birth to awareness”.  And just as the labor can be painful for the mother becoming aware can also be painful for the child.  I tend to believe that a lot of the crying, fidgetiness, etc. of newborns is often a result of this struggle with awareness, a lot more than we think.  For some people, I think, this “forced awareness”, with its “shock”, can be a traumatic experience or at least can affect them the rest of their lives.

Some of the struggles caused by “forced awareness” include:

  • The need to get used to awareness.  I think that there is a period of time for a child to be able to handle awareness.  I also think that different forms of awareness tend to require different periods of time.
  • The fact that “forced awareness” can bring out other qualities that can be more difficult than the awareness.  I often feel that the difficulties posed by “forced awareness” can bring out the beginnings of dark and sinister feelings and conflicts.  For some people this can be severe.
  • Being overwhelmed by awareness.  Sometimes, awareness is so overwhelming that some children struggle with it.  For example, it may cause some kids to sleep a lot or become restless or cry.

A significant point is that the reaction to “forced awareness” is often based on the inherent character of the child.  In fact, the reaction to “forced awareness” is often the first introduction of the inherent character of the child.   It can sometimes bring out the beginnings of difficult, problematic, and sinister character qualities in the child.

“Awareness shock”

“Forced awareness” tends to cause a generalized “shock” for most people.  We can call this “awareness shock”.   This can cause great strain on a newborn and infant.  This is not all that surprising for, in some respects, it is our first battle as a person.

This shock appears in different ways in different people.  It can appear in ways such as:

  • A “shock” that appears and is overcome or grown out of.
  • An intensified sense of shock that causes a prolonged struggle.
  • A more continuous, generally mild, struggle that may affect a persons life.
  • A traumatic shock that a person has difficulty dealing with.

The same qualities that affect awareness in the womb also seem to affect how one reacts to “forced awareness”.  These are:

  • A persons innate character
  • A tendency to over-sensitivity.
  • Unique events or happenings in the womb.
  • Health conditions.

Any of these can greatly intensify, or lesson, “awareness shock”.

“Awareness angst”

Because newborns are forced to be aware they have to get used to it.   This takes time, though, and can be difficult.  It seems to create an anxiety or anxious quality.

In my opinion, we are always trying to “get used” to being aware throughout our whole life and we never quite feel comfortable with it.  In fact, I think that it is the cause for much despair, anxiety, and unhappiness in people.  This ongoing struggle with awareness, that continues throughout ones life, we could call the “awareness angst”.

Some of the things that provoke this sense include:

  • An oversensitive nature makes it felt strongly.
  • A sense of self-protection can give it greater meaning and make it more intense.

The “awareness angst” is further complicated by the fact that there is an inability to fulfill desire, need, or want.  We are unable to fulfill any of these, though we are aware of it.  All we do is experience them and that’s it.  This inability to satisfy them, and bring them to fulfillment, plays a big part of the “awareness angst”.  It shows that “awareness angst” has much root on the process of desires and their satisfaction.  Since we are unable to satisfy them it as if disrupts a cycle of the phases of process of fulfillment.  The phases could go something like this:

  1. The impulse (the desire, need, or want).
  2. The awareness of the impulse.
  3. The action to satisfy the impulse
  4. The fulfillment of the impulse

Basically, we feel the impulse and the awareness but we are unable to complete the last two phases.  This causes an angst which tends to lead to a frustrated and anxious disposition.  Being unable to fulfill our impulses in the womb means that we are all born with a somewhat frustrated and anxious disposition.  And because this is one of the first introductions to awareness it also means that awareness becomes intimately associated with frustration and anxiety.  As a result, it as if hangs over our lives.  In fact, I would even venture to say that this is the source of much of our despair and unhappiness in life.

The importance of sleep and dreaming

It seems that sleep as if alleviates”awareness shock” by removing us from it.  This shows that sleep has great importance in regard to awareness.  Sleep as if “relaxes” us from the burden of awareness.   Because of this, sleeping becomes an avenue to alleviate the problems and burdens of awareness.

Now, sleep, by itself, just “relaxes” us from awareness.  Dreaming, it seems, brings on another aspect.  Basically, dreaming is a continuation of awareness but in a modified no-so-intense form.  In this way, dreaming creates what can be called a “relaxed awareness” . . . one can be aware but not burden by its shock.  In this way, dreaming becomes a “middle road”.  As a result, dreaming becomes an “escape” from “forced awareness” and all its various problems.  Because of this, as one develops and grows in awareness the importance of dreaming grows in importance.  It becomes more real and more significant.  This is so true that conflicts can come out dramatically as in a nightmare.

The act of dreaming reflects these qualities:

  • The self – this refers to the sense of “me” as opposed to the world . . . the self-as-independent
  • Projection – this refers to the projection of ones self onto the world so that the world as if becomes ones self . . . in this way, we become “placed” in the world . . . the self-in-the-world
  • Passion – this refers to the emotion, desire, etc. that motivates the dream
  • Awareness – this, of course, refers to being aware of things

The dream is really an absence of self and projection.  All that’s left is passion and awareness and it is these that become portrayed through the dream images.  This fact shows that the “shock” and burden of awareness is actually rooted in the self and projection.  It is these that we struggle with . . . it is not passion and awareness, as one would normally suspect.  This would make sense as the self and projection is a manifestation of the self-as-independent and self-in-the-world . . . it places us, as a reality, in the world.  Because of this, the pressure is on them.  This gives them great focus and importance.  This absence of the self-as-independent and self-in-the-world creates the “dreamlike”, “surreal”, or “otherworldly” quality that is found in dreams.

Because of the absence of the self and projection the dream tends to take on the quality of “base awareness” of our early years.  This gives dreaming a “deeper” quality to it.  Dreams are one of the ways we “reconnect” with the “base awareness”.  Since the absence of self and projection are associated with spirituality and a spiritual sense, its not all that surprising that dreams are often associated with spirituality or a spiritual sense.

We could say that there are two forms of dreams:

  • Pre-self dreaming.  This is a dreaming before the self has developed (the pre-self) or from that part of us that stems from the pre-self.  It is related to “base awareness”.  These, I think, tend to have that “surreal” quality.  They tend to be more generalized in orientation and not be related with events and happenings.  They can be almost to the point of being religious.
  • Self dreaming.  This is dreaming with the self.  This is the dreaming as we normally know it.  These dreams tend to revolve around specific issues and have a “worldliness” about them.  That is to say, they are more related to events and happenings.

I think that a lot of dreaming tend to be a mixture of these two.  It seems, though, that the “pre-self dreaming” is more prevalent when one is young (that is, when the self is not developed and the sense of the “base awareness” is stronger).  As we get older the self develops and, as a result, we start seeing more “self dreaming”.


Awareness tends to force the self to develop.  This, of course, begins in the womb and goes at an accelerated rate after we are born.  The world puts great pressure on awareness and, through awareness, the self is developed.

This shows that the self is really something that is born by necessity . . . the reality of the world makes it necessary.  In other words, confrontation with the world, and being alive, forces awareness on us which, in turn, forces a self to develop to deal with the world.  In this way, one could say that the self is a “world dependent” entity.

Being “world dependent”, the self establishes one in the world in these ways:

  • A “grasping” – it allows us to “grasp” the world and the things in it.
  • A “reality” – it creates an image of reality that places one in the world as something real and tangible.

The self, then, creates an awareness that is world focused and dependent.  What this does is make it so that the nature of the self is opposed to the nature of “base awareness” . . . they are like opposite ends of a spectrum.  The self causes an emphasis on an external world awareness whereas the “base awareness” creates an awareness that is rooted interiorly.  As a result, there becomes a conflict between the interior side of us and the external side of us.   This is the base of the “spiritual versus world” conflict that is a common theme seen in religion and philosophy.

I should point out that its not uncommon that the forcing of the self to develop often brings in “bad” aspects of ones nature.  In fact, it often does.  For some people, this can bring on some of the most difficult of feelings as they often originate from deep within.  I often tend to think that forcing the self to develop brings on the first battles one has with ones self.  In some cases,  this can continue on into ones whole life.


The existence of the self tends to cause various forms of illusions.  Being based in the world, and forced into existence, the self naturally tends to put great emphasis on the world, the things in the world, and ones association with it.  As one becomes confident in ones association with the world one develops a confidence with ones “standing” in the world.  This creates what can be described as a sense of “stable awareness” . . . that is, that ones awareness is “correct”.  But the self often tends to make us feel alienated from ourselves as it detaches us from the “base awareness”.  This can cause a dilemma that can upset “stable awareness” and put one self in great conflict.  A number of ways this conflict can appear include:

  • That the world is false.
  • That there is another world.
  • That one is being deceived.
  • That everything is a lie.
  • Despair.
  • Hopelessness.

All this creates a doubt that can appear many ways:  doubt with ourselves and doubt with the world.  This can be extended in other ways:  doubt about god, doubt about belief, doubt about any belief system, doubt about the government, doubt about society, etc.  In this way, the sense of “stable awareness” can become something of an illusion.


As I said above, “base awareness” is the source of spirituality and a spiritual sense.  Because of this, spiritual-minded people are actually seeking “base awareness”, the awareness of our earliest years and even awareness in the womb.  In spirituality one is usually trying to regain the “sense” of “base awareness”.

Seeking base awareness” can create things such as:

  • A calmness – because our earliest awareness is without “clutter” and confusion
  • Insight and intuitions – this is because ones normal state of mind does not know them
  • A “connectedness” with things and feeling closer to life – this is the original sense of “allness”
  • A purpose and meaning – this refers to a more “uncluttered” and confused state of mind
  • It accentuates life and a more “rounded” life – it brings out more of ones being and mind
  • It encompasses ones whole being – this is because it entails deeper aspects of ones life
  • It gives a sense of “purity” – this is because it originates from the first “non-shocked” awareness

As a result, the effect of these can be very powerful and influential in life.  Its because of this that spirituality can become so important in life.  This seems to be the case, though, only for some people.  Sometimes, too, it is only effective for a period of times in ones life.  It seems to vary with personality and situation.  In other words, seeking “base awareness” isn’t for everyone. 

The illusion of spirituality

Its not uncommon that the seeking of “base awareness” – spirituality – becomes an illusion as well.  I have found that spirituality is not the “ultimate” and is only effective for some types of people.  Too much spirituality can become a problem for some people.

Some of the effects of the illusion of spirituality include:

  • The seeking of “base awareness” can turn into a seeking of a “non-awareness” or a “non-self” state.  This creates a great dilemma in spirituality as we cannot be non-aware or have no self once the self has developed.
  • Though we try to regain “base awareness” we will never really achieve it.  That self is basically gone.  We only grasp a remnant of it.  I tend to feel that trying to seek “base awareness” – spirituality – is something that should not be done too excessively.  One could say that it is something that should be done sparingly as it “adds spice to life”.  This is why I think the monastic lifestyle may be a bit “too much”.
  • Often, the meaning of spirituality wanes.  In some cases, people end up having to “fortify” a failing spirituality with abstract belief.  This often turns it into a mechanical act over time.

The result of these is that spirituality tends to fail or break down.  “Base awareness”, or spirituality, seems to be best as something like an attitude and not something prominent.  That is when it seems to have the most power.


I’ve often described contemplation (or mystical prayer), and whats often called “meditation” in Eastern religions, as a “waking sleep”.  In fact, one could probably describe it as a “forced waking sleep”.  In other words, contemplation is a retraction of self and projection, as in dreaming, but it is done in a waking state.  In addition, contemplation is something we generally have to force to happen.  That is to say, it doesn’t always “just happen”.  This is why it becomes something one “practices” and tends to entail a “procedure” or “technique”.

I could go on to say that contemplation is an attempt at “reviving” the womb-like awareness of “base awareness” and the pre-self dream-like condition as a reality, not as a sense (which is seen in spirituality).  In this way, its like “relearning” and “reviving” it.  Some of the common senses that are revived include:

  • A loss of self (this leads to a sense of detachment)
  • An awareness of an “allness” (this often becomes a sense of God)
  • A sense of the eternal (this is awareness without the self or projection and creates a sense that time is not “grasped”)

In this way, we see that contemplation is something like a regression to a state in the womb or as an infant.  This is not done for the sole reason of “regressing to a more pleasant period of time”.   There are deeper meanings and value in it.  Some of these include:

  • Contemplation hits to the “depths of ones being”.   Since contemplation hits to the depth of awareness and the self (for its going before the self has appeared), it has a quality of “hitting the center”, so to speak, to the “depths of ones soul”.  This does, in fact, happen and is part of the power of contemplation.
  • Contemplation opens up hidden parts of ones self.  Since contemplation entails the abandoning of ones self, as one seeks the pre-self and “base awareness”, it often uncovers hidden aspects of ones self.  One discovers aspects of ones self that one never thought existed, for example.
  • Contemplation makes a more unified self, the “greater self”.  Since contemplation goes to before the self (the pre-self) it as if unifies the different aspects of ones self, making a more unified holistic self.  In this way, the self is not fragmented and a person feels more whole.
  • Contemplation creates a sense of union with the “allness” of life.  The sense of “all” is part of the “base awareness”.  This “allness” is often described as the sense of god.  It also is a sense of “being one with the world”.  In this way, there develops a sense of being part of the world and in it.

So we see that contemplation – the “regression” to ones earliest awareness – has great impact on a person’s self and their sense of being in the world.

Contemplation, though, is not for everyone.  Like spirituality, it only has value for some people.  Most people, I think, who start contemplation cease doing it within a short period of time.  Personally, I think that true contemplatives are rare.


In general, the male has a strong self orientation which is absent in the female.  It appears, to me, that this difference in the self causes great difference in the male and female in regard to “base awareness”.

I tend to view the strong self in the male being a result of the fact that nature has given the male a quality of dealing with the world.  The self is that quality that gives the male the ability to deal with the world, to confront the difficulties, trauma, horror, and reality that the world dishes out.  It does this a number of ways, such as:

  • The ego.  I always call this “false confidence” which allows the male to do things that he otherwise would not do in the world (such as killing a walrus with a spear or traveling in inhospitable places).
  • A unity and collectiveness of self.  This is a sense that one must be “together” as a person.
  • A directedness in motive and direction.  This refers to the need to “have a plan” with meaning and purpose.

All these qualities allow the male to better deal with the conditions of the world.  As a result, the male has a stronger self to deal with than the female.  Because of this, the male tends to suffer from self problems that the female generally does not suffer.  It also means that the male suffers more from the illusion of awareness.  As a result, males often have to work harder.  This struggle often makes the male look more deeply as well.  But, at the same time, the struggle also makes them more easily disillusioned.

It seems, to me, that females tend to have a “base awareness” that is more easily accessible, due to the absence of a strong self, but it lacks depth.  In addition, they don’t seem to benefit from its awareness as much as males do.  They also don’t struggle as much.  Being less impacted by self problems, it seems that females get easily swayed by emotional aspects, particularly after menstruation begins (which makes females more susceptible to emotions).  It seems that many females who start off seeking “base awareness” quickly change to seeking emotional aspects and, as a result, tend to easily go off in other directions and lose sight of it.

In short, the males seem to struggle but find depth.  Females don’t struggle as much but don’t find the depth.  In other words, male spirituality tends to be self and awareness oriented, female spirituality tends to be more emotion oriented with the self and awareness lacking.

This seems to show some interesting aspects of the self and awareness.  It shows that the conflict with the self and awareness is very influential, at least for the male.  It reveals these qualities of the self:

  • The self is the source of depth
  • The self forces a greater expansion of the self
  • The self requires greater work and suffering
  • The self creates a greater unity of self

These are things that are primarily seen in males, as a result of the conflict with the self, but seem minimally with females who do not have the conflict as extensively.

For similar subjects see:

Thoughts on the pre-self, primal self, world self, post-self, and the greater self

Thoughts on the progression of projection

Thoughts on boredom and depression – the importance of the self’s need for projection


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Children and play, Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Dreams and their interpretation, Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Male and female, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Religion and religious stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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