Let us look more closely at this sequence of events that surround awakening. Awareness is always preceded by a sensation. Sensations are invitations to engage with something in the present moment, something either in our inner world or in the external world. The traditional five senses—sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste—are the most familiar to us and are the most regular doorways to the present moment that we encounter. Each invites us to notice something. Each is, therefore, an invitation to awareness. Awareness begins, therefore, as a response to a sensation.

The act of responding to the invitation of a sensation by noticing it (awareness) immediately sets in motion a chain of events and possibilities. The first is that it brings us back from our heads (where we escape whenever we are not present to the moment) to our bodies and to our vital energies that are grounded in them. We can only be alive in our bodies through our senses. And conversely, we cannot be engaged with our senses without being in touch with our bodies. However, as soon as we attend to a sensation—any sensation—we immediately experience the gift of mobilized energy. This energy will not always feel positive. But awareness always mobilizes energy that prepares us to respond to whatever we now notice. If we back away from this energy out of fear, we shut it down, cut off our access to our vitality, and go back to sleep. However, if we respond to whatever our attention has engaged, we allow the energy to awaken us.

Returning to the awakening of Paul, the sensations that invited attention were the blinding light and the voice addressing him. Even such a dramatic encounter as Paul experienced could have been easily ignored and regularly is ignored. But Paul responded to the sensation by offering attention rather than resistance. From a more theological

perspective, we can say that he opened himself to God. He did this by submitting to those who told him where to go and waiting until God revealed what he should do next. This waiting was preparation for response; the immediacy and lifelong persistence of his response attests to the magnitude of the vitalization that was associated with his awakening.

Excerpted from Chapter One of Spirituality and the Awakening Self
David G. Benner, PhD, Spirituality and the Awakening Self
Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2012. Used by permission