Awakening: Awakening Awareness

A Weekly publication of The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation,

Spiritual Direction and Soul Care

Hi Everyone, I pray that you, at this very moment, are experiencing the presence of God in your day. Now is a good time to be still and let God speak to your heart.

As I enjoy my second week of vacation, as stated last week, we will be giving two encore offerings from the past, chosen for their popularity at the original time of publication. This week is an article originally published on October 31st, 2015, titled…

Awakening Awareness

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me." NRS Matthew 26:36-38

The Greek word used in the above Scripture translated as awake, or often as watch, is gregoreuo {gray-gor-yoo'-o}. In its strictest sense this is not simply a reference to waking from physical sleep, which is hupnos (hoop-nos). Gregoreuo is a call to be vigilant, to pay attention, to watch carefully. It is this word that is used in Luke 9:32 when we are told in the midst of the Lord’s transfiguration; “Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. NRS” Peter and his companions may have been a bit sleepy but just as likely they were fighting off distractions as they ascended the mountain; distractions that could have led to their missing the supernatural event about to unfold. The point of being awake is to see the glory of God, to see the love of God, to see God in our midst. This kind of awakening brings with it a hypersensitive awareness to the divine presence all around us. This awareness must be awakened if we hope to experience God in a more consistent manner in our lives.

This Awareness is a gift of grace from God, which occurs when we stop, listen, and hear God’s voice. This awareness opens our hearts to a special revelation of the constantly renewed meaning in each present moment. This is what it means to just “be.” You must be very still, but you will hear God loud and clear. If we become silent inwardly our awareness will pique in such a manner that God’s still small voice will resound like thunder in our hearts. Great things become visible.

“…but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." NRS Ephesians 5:13b-14

Awareness begins at home: As you listen to you, listening to God, who is listening to you. Ask yourself, “What is going on in me as I listen for God?”

A busy chaotic individual cannot find the leisure to listen. This contemplative listening requires time in unhurried leisure before God.

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside.

Dag Hammarskjöld

This call to wake up is a call to listen in a whole new way. But first we must ask ourselves “do we want to be awakened.” Remember the movie “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves, Neo, where only a few were actually awake while most were simply living unaware that they lived in containers being used by the machine as its power source. Awakening awareness is a paradigm shift for virtually everybody who considers it. Again, do we wish to consider it, do we really want to wake up? Anthony DeMello addresses this very question.

“Wake up! Wake up! Repent! Put on a new mind. Take on a new way of looking at things! For the ‘kingdom is here!’ It’s the rare Christian who take that seriously…the first thing you need to do is wake up, to face that you don’t like being woken up. You’d much rather have all the things which you were hypnotized into believing are so precious to you, so important to you, so important to your life and survival. Second, understand. Understand that maybe you’ve got wrong ideas that are influencing your life and making it the mess that it is and keeping you asleep. Ideas about love, ideas about freedom, ideas about happiness, and so forth.”

Anthony DeMello, Awareness, pg. 27

Awareness begins with an awareness of self as we ask ourselves the perennial question, “Who am I?” To know our self is the beginning of becoming aware of all things and to be open to the reality that everything belongs. Even you! Our fear of awareness comes from a sense of unknowing. We are afraid that we may become aware of something of which we would rather not be aware, as light is shed on who we actually are. This is of course unfounded fear, as the more aware we become the more we realize just how much we are loved by God, and how much God loves all people. We also become aware of God’s interaction with who we are at a deep level. We also become very aware of our interconnectedness with all there is.

Furthermore, fear often defaults in mechanization. A mechanized life is an unaware life. It is programmed and conditioned to just move through the day. The mechanized life can hardly be called life. It can also lead to perfectionism, making our focus and concentration directed at minutia or tangential issues, to the point of distraction.

Awareness is not concentration. In fact true awareness entails letting go of all fixations so as to be open to the fullness of a many faceted present moment. Concentration, because it is focused on one thing leaves us wide open to distraction. True awareness can never be distracted because of its nondual capacity to accept the reality that everything belongs. Thus awareness is openness to whatever happens to be.

One final aspect of awareness that I would like to point out at this time is, true awakening makes us acutely open to wonder. One of the beautiful aspects of awakening awareness is that it is full of surprises. But, surprise can only be joy filled when we let go of our need to be in control, open to what is as we follow Christ into a realm of wonder, surprise, love, joy and peace, which is the kingdom of God.

The above article is drawn from an Awakening Institute class on Contemplative Listening. For more information on the Awakening Institute please email:

Save the Dates


Lectio Divina (3 hour seminar and practice) April 29th from 9:00am-12:00noon

(Postponed new date TBA)

Introduction to the Enneagram (6 hour seminar) May 20th from 9:00am to 3:00pm with 1 hour break for lunch.

Centering Prayer (3 hour seminar and practice) June 24th form 9:00am to 12:00noon

Please email for details

To register please call 321-298-8801

Or visit our website for a complete listing of available classes and a free syllabus for a class of your choice.

Want to learn more about the important practice of spiritual direction, or are looking for a spiritual director to walk with you in your spiritual journey?

Contact “The Awakening Institute” 321-298-8801 or visit our website

Coming in the Fall of 2017

Introduction to the Enneagram Eleven Week Course

This is an Eleven week (27.5 hour) course into the fantastic world of the Enneagram.

This class will include an in-depth look into all nine spaces as well as their subtypes, wings, triads and Holy ideas, with emphasis on its usefulness within the context of spiritual direction and self-care.

Syllabus is now available;

Something to Ponder

Religion that has devolved into s elf-scrutiny has lost its sense of creativity. Having lost its sense of creativity it has become unaware. Having lost its awareness, the mystical sense of God’s presence can no longer be perceived.


Do you know someone who would like to receive “Awakening” every Friday?

Send us their email address and we will make it happen

Coming this Fall

Christian Mysticism in Today’s World

Course Description: This is an 12 week course, (2 1/2 hours per session), designed to help the student discover the most important dynamics of Christian Mysticism, both in its historical context as well as the many ways it has, and continues to develop today. We will use a three-fold approach, which includes 1) Defining mysticism historically and what it means for disciples today. 2) Answering the question, “Who is a mystic?” and 3) the way of the mystic.

Syllabus now available, email:

Community Bible Experience

This is an encounter with God’s Word designed for those who wish to experience the Scriptures at a deep heart level, as a way to inner transformation.

Coming in the summer of 2017

The Gospel of John

Some recommendations for excellent spiritual guidance…

If you have others to share with our readers please send them to

Knowing as We Are Known

A five week study in inner stillness

As taught by the author

Eugene T. Yotka

August 4, 11, 18, 25 and September1


at Epworth UMC,

7651 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Florida

Email for tuition costs, further details and to reserve your space

Soul Care at “The Awakening Institute”

The focus of Soul Care is the tending to, and strengthening of, the human soul, which has been damage by past trauma, an ongoing crisis, or various negative life events accumulated over a period of time.

The human soul is created to perceive God, to contemplate God and to love God. In other words, the human soul is designed to sense God’s presence, to be consciously aware of, and to practice God’s presence, and to have a deep love relationship with God as a result. This is often blocked by the damage that life in this world can do to the soul. This is spiritual damage in that it keeps the soul, which is fed and empowered by the human spirit in connection to the Holy Spirit, from receiving the nourishment it needs. This blockage is often in the form of stress, anxiety, worry and depression, which blocks the life giving effects of the Holy Spirit upon the human soul. The heart of The Awakening Institutes approach to soul care is an eleven week process consisting of two elements. 1) A five session experience we call “The Journey”, which is an in-depth look at spiritual formation as a dynamic process where the human spirit immersed in the Holy Spirit, has an empowering effect on the human soul, which in turn has healing effects on the human mind and body. 2) The Journey is then followed by a six session program titled “Choosing Joy”, which addresses spiritual blockages and soul damage due to the effects of stress, worry, anxiety and/or depression in a person’s life. For further information regarding the Soul Care program at The Awakening Institute please email and request details regarding Soul Care.

“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka,

Imagine Seeing Yourself as God See’s You; The True You.

Imagine Living in Full Awareness of The Lord’s Presence in Your Life

Imagine Having a Deeper Sense of Being One of God’s Beloved Children

Imagine Hearing God’s Still Small Voice in a More Profound Manner

We all long to live from the center of an authentic self. Gene Yotka has provided an important resource for helping us identify and express a spiritual life from that center. His book is a gift. – Dr. Steve Harper, Professor of Spiritual Formation, Asbury Theological Seminary

Gene has demystified contemplative prayer and made it accessible to the average believer. – Dr. Stephen Seamands, Professor of Christian Doctrine, Asbury Theological Seminary

From Gene’s book I learned a lot about how to truly pray. -- Salvatore Buttaci, Author and Poet

Eugene Yotka's book changed my life. I have struggled with years of feeling lonely even though I had people in my life that I felt connected with and having been saved since I was 3 years old and felt I had a relationship with the Lord. But this book and practicing inner stillness brought me to a place of knowing God like I have never known Him before. I no longer feel alone and feel empowered to practice inner stillness daily to continue this awesome relationship with God. --Wanda, Amazon review

“Knowing as We Are Known: An Exercise in Inner Stillness”, by Eugene T. Yotka, offers a way to experience the true self where God speaks to our spirits telling us we are God’s children. We are created to live in the Presence of God, here and now, and to know inward stillness, peace, and tranquility as a way of life.

Available for $12.00 from The Awakening Institute for Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction and Soul Care

Immerse yourself in that still place within, in which God speaks to the true self that you have been created to be. This book is more than simply information about inner stillness; it is a guide into the experience of inner stillness itself. This is the author’s journey to that place where God speaks to our spirits and calls us children. This is a call not so much to do something as much as it is a call to be who God created us to be.

A Gathering of Spiritual Directors

This coming spring The Awakening Institute will host a gathering of spiritual directors. The reason for the gathering is to come together in prayer and to seek discernment regarding ways we can, together, raise awareness within the church of how spiritual direction can be a vehicle by which God’s presence and voice can be more deeply felt and more clearly heard, at both individual and congregational levels. If you are a spiritual director and would like to join in this conversation please contact Gene Yotka at 321-298-8801 or email for additional details.

Have Something You Would Like to Share?

Awakening would be blessed to receive original articles, poems, or artistic work that would be helpful and edifying for those interested in Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Direction, and/or Soul Care for future publication.

Please submit via email to

Recommended Reading

(Additional to our daily Scripture reading)

  • Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, by David-Steindl Rast

  • I Am A Follower, by Leonard Sweet

  • Becoming Human, By Jean Vanier

  • Knowing As We Are Known, by Eugene T. Yotka

  • Let Your Life Speak, by Parker Palmer

  • Desiring God’s Will, by David Benner

  • Walking In The Light, by Steve Harper

  • Thoughts in Solitude, by Thomas Merton

  • Incarnation: The Surprising Overlap of Heaven & Earth, by Will Willimon

  • The Mystic Way of Evangelism, by Elaine A. Heath

  • A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer

  • The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri Nouwen

  • Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, by Norman Wirzba

  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

  • Between the Dark and the Daylight, by Joan Chittister

  • New Seeds of Contemplation, by Thomas Merton

  • Love Henri, by Henri Nouwen

  • New! The Divine Dance, by Richard Rohr

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