Are You Sleepwalking Your Life Away? (Part 2)

Desert

This is a follow-up post to the original article Are You Sleepwalking Your Life Away? to clarify on certain key points as well as reply to the large volume of feedback from readers.

Influx of traffic

In all honesty, the response to the original article blew me away. I knew that the content is going strike an emotional chord with readers, but I didn’t anticipate for it to become the viral catalyst it has turned into.

It started off with the front page listing on Digg.com a week ago, where the huge influx of visitors in just 2 days burst through the visitor target I had for the month of January (plus half the month of February, for that matter). After that, links just started sprouting everywhere, on all kinds of forums, blogs, social bookmarking sites.

After the listing, I stopped promoting the site to see how long the impact lasts. Even after one week, the momentum is still on – word is still spreading and there are new sites linking back to the article on a daily basis. In fact, as I’m typing this, we just hit the front page of Delicious.com! Thank you to everyone who has been supporting this blog and hello to all new visitors! :D Remember to subscribe to the content via RSS/email/your news reader. :) Check out the archives for more content.

Writing the first article

When I was writing the original article, I was really just single-mindedly focusing the objective to wake up sleepwalkers. In fact, I even wrote this down right in header and referred back to it continuously as I was writing.

In my mind, I was thinking about how to best reach out to them through my writing. I thought about the sleepwalkers within my circle of friends and acquaintances. I thought about all the sleepwalkers I cross paths with everyday and who exist in this world. I thought about the huge, unlimited, mass of potential in them, just waiting to be unleashed. This served as my source of inspiration and energy.

I didn’t want the sleepwalkers to just read the article, go ‘oh, yeah’, then continue back on in their daily lives the next day as they would have if they hadn’t read it. The article has to be more than just an informative piece. It has to jolt them awake. It has to trigger self reflection and think about how they really want their lives to become. It has to drive and spur them to action. Only then has the objective been achieved.

Even if they wake up for just one second and choose to return to sleep, at the very least the seed has been planted.

Huge response and feedback

Based on the all feedback and response, I’m glad to say that the article is achieving its objective. :D Thank you to all of you who have sent in your feedback. :) It is extremely energizing reading each and every one of them and there is a piece of learning to take away from every note.

Out of all the feedback:
a) About 70% of them is positive, with people feeling inspired and acquiring new insights.
b) 25% felt agitated and attacked. They either do not see a point in waking or tried to justify why they are not awake
c) 5% felt depressed and lost, not knowing what to do now they are awake

If your response is (b), stop yourself for a second and observe your reaction. Ask yourself this: Why are you feeling this way? What are you trying to defend? What is it about the message that you are uncomfortable about? Your reaction is a reflection of something within you.

Here, I will reply to the top feedback I received on the article.

Q1. I fit the signs of a sleepwalker, but so does about 99.99% of the world’s population. Does that mean all of us are sleepwalkers?

Don’t take the 8 signs of a sleepwalker at face value. These signs are just common traits of how a sleepwalker is like. It is meant as a general guide. Just because you meet one or more than half of the symptoms does not necessarily mean you are a sleepwalker.

For example, an apple is round and red in color. Does that mean that everything that is round and red in color is an apple? No – it can be something else, such as a cherry, a tomato or a ball of red yarn.

Just because you are someone who has a 9-5 job, plays video games when you are free and is consistently busy does not mean you are a sleepwalker. Your job may be a means to an end that you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to pursue your life passion in the long run, and your job is to secure you financially secure in the meantime. As long as you are conscious of your actions and decisions in the larger context of your life purpose, you are not a sleepwalker. It is different from a sleepwalker who lets his/her life be ruled by others because he/she lacks awareness of what he/she wants to do.

On the flip side, not fitting the symptoms does not mean you are not a sleepwalker. You can be a multi-millionaire, running a whole chain of business, highly successful and married with two kids. However, if all you have been doing in your life is running around pursuing imposed purposes conditioned by others, that’s really not much difference to being a sleepwalker.

All-in-all, the factor that drives your ‘waking’ state is not how rich, successful, driven, ambitious, productive or smart you are. It is how conscious you are in your life. (Read the next answer on what it means to be ‘awake’.)

Q2. You often hear people saying they have “woken up” because they have ‘outgrown’ their previous life phase, started a family, have kids or found their “calling”. Have those people awakened? How do we know for sure when we are truly awake?

The Map of Consciousness (which David Hawkins covers in Power vs Force) is a good scale to measure the waking process.

Lower consciousness levels include (but are not limited to) shame, guilt, grief, fear, anger, pride. Higher consciousness levels include (but are not limited to) courage, acceptance, reason, love, peace. Every shift in consciousness level represents a gradual awakening. The level that best marks the waking point is “Acceptance”, where a major transformation occurs and the individual starts to see oneself as the source and creator of one’s life.

While this statement sounds very simple, it constitutes many different layers of meaning. It is more than just being proactive about life. It means becoming aware of the social constructs present in one’s life, whether by family, society, nation, religion, work, etc. It means developing the ability to discern against (limiting) beliefs, viewpoints and conditioning which one is surrounded with. It means consciously crafting one’s life above and beyond all these social constructs. For example, a person who devotes himself/herself to a religion he/she is born into without consciously discerning, evaluating and questioning its teachings is as much a sleepwalker as someone who has no direction in life.

Q3. How does consciousness level relate to intelligence of a person?

Consciousness refers to your level of mental awareness. Intelligence, on the other hand, refers to (1) one’s capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity (2) aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc (Dictionary.com). Acquired and general knowledge have also come to be socially accepted forms of intelligence.

Consciousness and Intelligence are not entirely the same. Someone who is very intelligent can be low in consciousness – take for example, a high flying Wall Street investment banker whose life focus is to surround himself with material possessions so that he can feel worthy and secure (level of fear); i.e. The Family Man by Nicholas Cage (2000 movie). Another example is a CEO of a highly successful corporation who has no respect for people below him (level of pride).

They are often closely correlated, however. A highly conscious individual is usually a highly intelligent one as well; though the reverse is less common. The reason is because someone who is highly conscious will naturally be passionate about personal growth, which leads to conscious knowledge acquisition and an enhanced capacity for learning.

Q4. Oh no, I think I am a sleepwalker. I want to wake up. How can I do that?

You just did! The sheer recognition that you have been sleeping means you have already woken up. It’s the same as when you are dreaming – For you to realize that you have been in a dream, it means you have already woken up (unless you lucid dream). The choice now remains with you on whether you want to stay awake or go back to sleep and deny any of this has ever happened.

Q5. I feel depressed after reading the article. I don’t know what I should do.

When you wake up, there will be a moment of shock and emptiness, since the life as you have known it is no longer the same. What is most important is what you do after this. What you do, from this point onwards, is what’s going to change everything.

You are not alone in this. When I first woke up, I felt lost. I didn’t know what to do – I was torn between (1) tearing down the foundation which I built thus far in life and proceed to pursue my passion and (2) going back to my life as I knew it and pretending that everything was the same, except I really knew it wasn’t. In the end I decided to embrace my passion, and that marked the moment where my life developed a much higher meaning.

Everyone is born a sleepwalker. Everyone faces a point when they wake up and realize they need to take ownership over their lives to truly live. This does not mean that your life before this point has gone to waste. Whatever has happened till this point happened for a reason. It has been critical in allowing you to learn, grow and become the person you are today.

The sleepwalker article is meant to make you realize the infinite power you have inside of you which will allow you to construct your life from here on. You are the single most powerful creator of your life. The key now is to bring that out of you and manifest what you want to see.

Q6. Why label others and discriminate against how people lead their lives?

The term ‘sleepwalker’ is not meant to be used as label; it is merely a term that describes people who are leading their lives in an unconscious manner. It’s just a word; a descriptor. Don’t get too caught up in the name itself; Rather, focus on the underlying meaning of the word. If you dislike the word ‘sleepwalker’, use any substitute word to replace it.

It’s illogical to think of a sleepwalker or someone who is awake as more ‘superior’. To me, duality is an illusion – We are all interconnected as one and we are all parts of a bigger whole. The original article is not intended to negate sleepwalkers or their lives. At the end of the day, everyone has freewill and is entitled to do and lead the life they want, sleepwalkers or not. The original article is meant to drive awareness of the phenomenon of unconscious living, stir up self reflection and trigger ownership over our lives. My objective here is to help set everyone on the conscious path toward personal growth and elevate them to their highest potential.

Q7. I am 40, married, with 2 kids and I have bills, mortgage and car loans to pay. I have responsibilities which I need to live up to. It’s not as easy to just go ‘pursue my purpose’.

I hear you, and I empathize with you. While I may have more liberty given my current life stage where I’m not married or tied down with a family, I do have responsibilities I need to deal with too, such as being financially secure and supporting my family. These are responsibilities which I manage in line with the pursuit of my purpose.

Nobody is expecting you to move immediately toward full pursuit of your passion, unless you are expecting yourself to do that. The transition to your purpose is not supposed to be instantaneous.

Just because you have obligations does not mean that you cannot pursue what you want to do. You just need to identify the best way to pursue your passion, in a manner that allows you to manage your responsibilities too. It’s never between fulfilling your obligations or pursuing your passion – it’s doing both. You are not the only person in this world who has responsibilities. You just need to architect your life vision which fulfills all your needs.

When you have finished crafting your end goal, build up your plan to transit toward it. Check out the Goal Achievement (7-part series) – It will guide you to build up a plan toward your goals.

Q8. What does it mean to be awake?

Being awake does not mean we stop taking pleasures in life, stop playing games or stop having recreational fun. It does not mean you go all obsessive compulsive (ala Monica from Friends) and start scrutinizing everything in life. It doesn’t mean that you become a hermit, retreat to Timbuktu and meditate 18 hours every day. You can do that if you want, but I’m personally not planning to do so in any near future. ;)

What’s different now is there is now a common direction which binds everything in your life together. It means everything you do from here on starts having a deeper, real meaning and focus, rather than because you are bored and have nothing else to fill in the gap of time you have. In the midst of pursuing that purpose, the little pleasures you have come to love will continue to be a part of your life all the same – such as hanging out with friends, spending time with your kids, walking your dog, watering your garden, etc.

Q9. How would I know my life will be better after waking up? I’m doing okay with my life right now.

It will be, because being able to live in line with your truest passions is the single most powerful thing you can ever do in the world. I have experienced life both as a sleepwalker and as someone who is awake. I’m telling you from personal testimony that pursuing my real purpose is the best thing that I have ever done in my life. The past 2 years have been the best years of my physical existence thus far and I have no doubt that every other year is going to better the one before. :)

I can sit here all day and preach to you till the cows come home, and it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, your life is yours to lead and you are free to choose whatever you want. There’s no way you will know until you try it for yourself. Just go lead a fully conscious life, driven by a purpose, for 6 months and see where that takes you. If you find that there’s no difference or your previous life is better, then you are free to switch back to your sleepwalker status and continue a life where you fulfill others’ purposes.

Q10. So what should I do now that I’m awake?

1) Start off with the Discover Your Purpose (7-parter series) to find your purpose. There is a lot of information in it which will help you discover your true life’s purpose, including important factors to consider when defining your purpose, an exercise to find your purpose and how to integrate your purpose into your current life after discovering it.
2) With your life purpose identified, design your overall life vision that meets all your life’s needs
3) After your end goal is crafted, check out the Goal Achievement (7-part series) to build up a plan toward achieving your goals.

Q11. What paths can we move into after we awaken? Are there any paths other than self-help arena?

Yes of course! While most people will end up with a purpose that is some sort of variant of personal development and servitude to others, the mediums which they can use to achieve this goal is unlimited. Even though the most common mediums people associate with such a purpose are motivational speaking and book writing, it’s not just limited to that.

Look around you – it’s everywhere. Singers inspiring the world with their songs and voices. Teachers touching the lives of students. Doctors healing and saving the lives of many. Politicians who rally to build a better nation. Businessmen who set up social enterprises because of their passion in social corporate responsibility. The paths are only as limited as you let them be.

This is part of the Conscious Living series.

Images: Desert

  • Keith

    This is an excellent follow-up to the sleepwalker article! I personally didn’t have many questions or issues with the original article but having been on the other side of the sleepwalker coin, I can easily understand how many readers might’ve become confused or gotten the wrong ideas from reading it. What a high quality response!

    To those of you who made comments on the original article, YOU have already helped to contribute to improving other’s lives by virtue of asking the questions that others might not have bothered to ask due to fear, time constraints, or embarrassment or whatever. So thank you to those of you who shared your feedback as well. :)

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