What is Awareness?


When people ask me what kundalini yoga is, I give the reply I learned (and love) from training: Kundalini is the yoga of awareness. I find that I talk about awareness a lot, but 'without-a-stated-subject awareness’ was harder for me to understand until after I had done a lot of kundalini yoga.

In my experience, there are two factors creating 'awareness’: sensory perceptions and their interpretation.

Awareness begins with perception from one of the 5 senses, then we interpret this sensory perception and it creates a new piece of our reality.

But there can be a BIG gap between the original ‘thing’ that is affecting our senses, how it actually interacts with our body/mind, and the interpretation we give it.

For example, the condition of our eyes of course determines what we are able to see. So does the light in our environment. And once we register a sight with our eyeballs, our previous sights and experiences are considered as we interpret it. Studies have proven that subconscious bias has a huge effect on what we ‘see’. So if we are not wearing our glasses, and it’s dark, it is very difficult to see someone walking on a deserted road where we rarely see anyone. This is a mundane example but there are so many different combinations of physical barriers, plus habitual bias, that a perception that seems obvious and basic is easily misinterpreted.

In all instances mundane and otherwise, it’s easy to see that having a sharp awareness would mean that we have attuned our senses to accurately perceive and also practice making thoughtful, wise and accurate interpretations of our perceptions. The best way to understand what awareness is to do some kind of yoga practice regularly for an extended period of time and then consider your personal experience. Like so many things in yoga, it is simple but not easy.