What does it mean to be awake?

To be awake means to be fully alive— to be present to every moment of our lives—the joy, pain, suffering, peace- all of it; and to make healthy choices from this more awakened present state. 

To be awake means to live in truth— to live with attuned awareness of our impact on the environment, to live with blazing compassion for others informed by a deeper insight about them (their needs-hopes-fears-desires), and to live with a curious critical, and concerned ear for current local-global events. 

To be awake means to be vigilant and discerning— about what external information constantly flooding toward us is right, true, and healthy for our internal database to process and to wisely produce intention and action.

To be awake means to speak and sing our truth— to use our words and voices as “forces of mass connection” (Melanie Demore)…and construction; not disconnection and destruction. 

On this note, I celebrated New Year’s Eve with an amazing community of sound healers and musicians from traditions East to West…and all I can say is that music is truly the gateway into the soul and our voices (always available to us) are our most powerful vehicles for true expression. As we are in essence, vibration—our unique voices, visions, and informed opinions really matter—each one of us. 

Thus, to be really awake means to voice what is authentic and true inside of us no matter the consequence, to follow with right action, and to be hyper-conscious of the ripple the manifestation of our right actions in the world may have on the people and environment around us—to disrupt or to design. May 2020 be your year to “do you”— in service to the greater good and the benefit of all life.

Today is the Christian celebration of Epiphany. And, Epiphania in Greek means appearance or manifestation. It marks the moment that the three wise men found their way to the newborn Jesus by following their north star. Could one then interpret the journey of the wisemen to symbolically suggest for us— that if we too, wisely follow our true north star, we will eventually discover our true voice and right action—the manifestation (or appearance) of our authentic selves in the world? 

God knows as world leaders today are hungry for war and eager to unleash chaos around the globe—partly because (some believe) a down economy is a good one to invest in (says Trump); it’s even more vital in this disrupted, discordant world; for each of us to speak our constructive truth and find a way back toward harmony.

The symphony of life is just too precious and beautiful and highly evolved over 3.8 billion years and naturally intelligent to destroy or allow to self-destruct overnight.

Again, what does it mean to be awake? It means to return to what we know to be right and true; to speak and to act from that truth; to be greater than the conditions of our current environment and world; and to believe that we have the power to create our own future— not the one prescribed or predicted or presented to us—- the one that most resonates with what we believe is best for ourselves—which necessarily includes all living beings with whom we share the planet and upon whom we depend for our own existence. 

The time is now to be awake. 

I share with you; and I am telling myself: 

Shed the pain of yesterday.

Burn those limiting beliefs.

Breathe in, courage and hope; breathe out, fear and doubt.

Cross the river of change.

Stand on your mountain of power… and sing. 

If you don’t show up in the world- awake to your most brilliant awakened self; no one else will…

There was, is, and will never again BE YOU in the world.

I say it again, the time is now to be awake!


  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural Intelligence.com to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.