When you experience an awakening – the recognition of the primordial nature of awareness, you’re centerless center; often what comes with it are things such as relief, spaciousness, invincibility, freedom, few thoughts and even bliss. It’s quite easy to then start identifying with those qualities as something that has to be present to indicate your new found ‘awakening’.
This can lead you down the path of trouble, because as you go about your life you’ll naturally start to bump into the different flavours of living, some nice and some not so nice. You might start experiencing what you might call ‘afflictive thoughts’ or intense feelings & sensations. Maybe the feeling of invincibility and spaciousness feels like it has lessened or disappeared. This can lead you feel that you’ve lost ‘it’. You then try all that you can think of to get back to those wonderful qualities that you experienced; all the while trying to avoid the shitty thoughts and feelings that are coming up.
I’ve been down this road many times myself since my first awakening experience and it becomes exhausting. I’ve even had the experience of feeling that an opening insight or awakening experience has actually left me worse off as I try to get back to those wonderful experiences. What was happening is that I was associating awakening with the qualities appearing in my experience; I was interpreting ‘good’ qualities such as bliss and no thoughts as living in presence, and ‘bad’ qualities meant I was out of presence.
The recognition is not in the feeling or qualities that show up; the recognition is that you are, that you are aware, that you are prior to all of these qualities. Before the thought ‘I am’, before any sensations of the body, before any concepts, before any problems, before any lack of problems, before bliss, and before the feeling of emptiness, before everything – you ARE!
This recognition isn’t necessarily a one shot deal; it may (and probably will) need to be noticed and confirmed in your own experience over and over again until it’s your lived reality. The crux of what I’m pointing to is: don’t misidentify any qualities that may be present for the awakening itself. Recognize that you are prior to all qualities and phenomena; recognize that you are awareness itself.