Life is filled with all kinds of adventures and experiences, gifts and magic. Of all the gifts I have ever received in this life time, the gift of the mastery of awareness is the one I treasure the most. You might ask why that gift would exceed all others. After all, wasn’t that diamond ring wonderful and that fabulous sports car I received fine? Wasn’t that incredible vacation or that great work bonus awesome?
Of course I have gratitude for all the gifts life sends my way. Yet I’ve come to understand that material gifts have never been mine to keep. The Angel of Death can take any of my material belongings away but she cannot take my gift of awareness away until the day I die. And, if I cultivate my gift of awareness impeccably throughout my lifetime, it’s even possible to take that gift with me in my death. Truly it’s a gift cultivated by love and experience, patience and grace, and discipline and will.

So how did I come to receive such a gift? Eight years ago I read a book about personal freedom and the Toltec way. It revealed something that seriously hooked my attention. It said I could be happy, never having to live my life in reaction, jumping from one fear-based emotional reaction to another. I asked myself if it is actually possible to be happy no matter what circumstances surround me. I wondered what my life would be like if I had clarity in every moment. Was that something that was available to a person like me?
I decided to take action and signed up for a spiritual journey with don Miguel Ruiz, author of “The Four Agreements.” That was the beginning of a lifetime journey of self-discovery. In the years since, I’ve attended hundreds of lectures and workshops and more than a dozen of these spiritual journeys. No matter where I travel or how far I go I always end up journeying deeper into my own heart. After all, where else is there to go?

The last years of my apprenticeship with don Miguel have been spent in “Dreaming.” No, I am not talking about interpretation of night dreams or lucid dreaming. The function of the brain is to dream and we are dreaming all the time, both at night and during the day. Toltec dreaming is a technique of mastering the dream of your life. Another way of wording this is learning the Mastery of Intent. Intent is the force that life uses to manifest itself in this reality.
Sounds a bit like becoming the master of the universe, doesn’t it? Well from a certain point of view it is! If we master the way we perceive the world and what we believe, we’re the master of our universe. Of course we can’t change the fact that life’s happening around us, but we can change the way we react and the way we choose to interpret what we perceive. But mastering intent is getting ahead of things a bit. To be able to master intent we first need to master awareness.

Awareness is the birthright of all life forms on the planet. The key to mastering awareness is where we focus our attention. Attention is the ability of the mind to discriminate between all of the information obtained by the senses in any given moment. If we focus our attention on the difficult things in our life and the “bad” things that are always happening to us, life will always look bad and difficult to us. If we focus on the beauty and magnificence of creation, our life will always be beautiful and magnificent, no matter what challenges life may bring.
If we recapitulated our lives, we’d see that we’ve been trained to perceive our lives from a very particular point of view – which is not necessarily the truth. This is due to our domestication, our life experiences, and our wounding. By viewing our life as if it were a movie, we can see the folly of our behavior patterns and emotional reactions. For myself, I’ve come to see that my understanding of my life isn’t exactly the truth, it’s just a story.
Now that I have awareness, I’ve taken responsibility for the way I choose to perceive life, and the way I behave in any situation. I can shift and focus my attention in any direction I choose. Best of all, I never have to be the victim of circumstances in life anymore! I make choices with clarity and confidence because I see things the way they are, not the way I want them to be.
Just to be clear, the only thing my teacher ever gave me was the minimal chance to make these changes for myself. A teacher can never do your transformational work for you. They can only shine a light upon your path so you can see the possibilities of a dream of unconditional love and beauty. It’s up to you to have the courage and fortitude to see things as they are and stop lying to yourself. Taking action means taking chances, as spirit may not knock twice on your door.
So has it been worth it? Absolutely, positively yes! Embarking on the Toltec path has been the best experience of my life and the mastery of awareness has been the most wonderful present I’ve ever given to myself. And I am so worth it! I encourage you to set out on your own path of self-discovery and awareness; I guarantee it’ll be your best gift too!

Author's Bio: 

Sheri Rosenthal DPM is a master Toltec teacher and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom. Having trained with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, she currently takes students on spiritual journeys, works with personal apprentices and enjoys being extremely happy. You can reach her at or at