This is my experience of becoming more awakened to the present moment, which I thought I would share.
I studied the experiences of Eckhart Tolle and other spiritual teachers for many years and meditated on them, but they largely remained just ideas and concepts to me until about six months ago when the depression I had struggled with for much of my life just fell away. It wasn't as dramatic or instant as Tolle's, as when I look back it was a long process of letting go of my attachment to the ego and its stories and desires. The depression was like the last ditch attempt to create an identity for itself because everything else had failed. I knew about mindfulness and tried to practice it but somehow the desire to be the depressed person was just too overwhelming and I always succumbed because it was familiar and comforting - it made the ego feel validated in the face of difficult experiences. It was a comfort blanket when the world seemed too scary to deal with.
But at Christmas, after another bout of bad depression, something changed. I'd been meditating for years and becoming mindful in my daily life so I (or the witness) could see what was happening, the losing in the depression and how ill and unhappy I was as a result. The decision was made to fully accept all experiences and just observe them without resistance. My heart opened to everything I was experiencing because there was understanding that it was okay to feel bad and even the depression was understandable because it served a purpose, even though that purpose was misguided.
Since then, although I've not resisted it, my depression has not returned. There is awareness of the witness most of the time apart from obviously when I get lost in thoughts, but that doesn't happen for long. I can see how I'm reacting to people and situtions, I observe without judgement, or I observe the judgement without added judgment. I open my heart to myself and other people and even if I have a so-called judgemental thought, I observe it with compassion and let it go without further comment. Again, even the judgement is arising for a reason, whether it's past conditioning or simply the need for the ego to feel better about itself. I notice this and let it go.
There are still times I lose myself in thought and emotion, but these don't last long because I very quickly realise it. I bring myself back to the breath, practicing open awareness of that and my surroundings, and focus on being mindful of what I'm experiencing whether it's anger, grief, fear, irritation or whatever else. I stay with it without resistence. If there is resistance, I accept the resistance.
I fully realise that who I am is beyond thought or any mental images of myself. In essence I am the same as everyone and everything else; human, animal, insect, fish or plant. I am the One Life that flows through it all. Thought is part of all that, as is the ego construct; none of it is bad or wrong, it's all part of the journey back to the realisation of the Self. In this knowing, everything can be embraced.
This is my experience and although I can only know that fully, I feel I understand more what Tolle and other teachers have described, with some limitations. I can't say there is deep bliss or awareness of deep eternal love like others say, so I'm sure there is more depth to be experienced. All I know is deep peace when I rest in awareness. Whilst this more than enough, I am open to more because life is naturally an ever-changing landscape!
I'm very interested in others' experience of their awakening or simply becoming more aware.