Awake at the Wheel

Conscious Living Center teaches self-awareness, personal growth

Jan 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Back in 1999 Deborah Ooten found herself filling her gas tank at the Shell station in Clifton Heights when something spoke to her: The universe told her that she was going to start the Conscious Living Center. 

“I was at the Shell and I heard this voice say ‘Hey, this is what you gotta do,’ ” Ooten says. “Call it intuition — divine consciousness.”

Twelve years later, there exists a health center in Mount Auburn where a collection of practitioners, including Dr. Ooten, provides services dedicated to facilitating consciousness. Consciousness, according to Ooten, is the ability to self-observe and self regulate — the state of being awake or alert during everyday life. 

The study of one’s own consciousness is fast becoming a popular way for individuals to deal with such afflictions as depression, anxiety or chemical dependency, Ooten says, because it leads to a more peaceful connection to the present. 

“The individual can live a more conscious life — more awake, less on automatic pilot and more in a choice-ful reality,” Ooten says. “I think it makes people feel like, ‘Wow, I’m not crazy. I’m not alone.’ They go, ‘Wow, OK, so I don’t have to do this this way every time — I can have a choice. I can be awake. I can be aware. I can be alert to ways that I fall asleep to myself and to others and to the world.’ ”

The Conscious Living Center houses individual practitioners whose goal is to facilitate “body, mind and heart consciousness” through life coaching, spiritual counseling and programs dedicated to exploring a conscious journey through life. The center’s School of Conscious Living offers programs that teach the inner work necessary for applying self-knowledge and awareness to one’s life, and its main tool is the enneagram, which details the ways of seeing and experiencing the world by explaining the underlying motivations, strengths and weaknesses that affect behavior among nine different personality types.  

For instance, an individual who is identified as a Type 5 — “The Investigator” — might never have realized that others are also “intense, cerebral types: perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated.” It can be relieving to also learn that other people share the basic fear of “being useless, helpless or incapable” and basic desire of being “capable and competent.” Such self-refection building blocks are provided for each of the nine personality types and can lead to increased self-understanding. 

“We all have a habitual way of being,” Ooten says. “So the enneagram tells us that there’s only one thing that truly separates us from knowing ourselves or knowing others or God or the universe, and that’s the ego — or our personality. The more information we have about our personality, the less asleep we are to our true nature. The more information we have about that, the easier it is for us to make choices that are not automatic or habitual choices.” 

Individuals who make an appointment with a professional at the Conscious Living Center can meet to discuss a specific event or patterns in their lives they wish to investigate. Teachers and life coaches will help identify the patterns and any roadblocks that are keeping them from living as consciously as possible. 

The School of Conscious Living offers programs from one year to seven years, which involve the coaching of practical, day-to-day living or life coaching, leading to the school’s Consciousness Ascending program, which attempts to transcend the individual’s “sleeping state” by doing the inner work required to access higher levels of vitality and awareness. 

“It morphs into a consciousness around our body, around our community, our world,” Ooten says. “It just really helps people to look at all different aspects and it helps us to see that there’s only one of us here, and if we rectify the fact that if I’m suffering then you’re suffering, too, then we begin to create compassion and kindness and a more loving way of being in the world.”

The Conscious Living Center is actively offering its services to people 35 and younger, as Ooten has found the demographic to be more interested in things like spirituality over religion, and consciousness over traditional types of therapy. The center provides a sliding payment scale for people this age whose insurance might not cover its services.

“Gen Y and Gen X and the Millennials have a tendency to be more self-reflective than the Baby Boomers, so they are seeking out things,” Ooten says. “But they’re very cautious or hesitant with traditional motifs like psychoanalysis. And they also have a tendency to want to do things in a more community atmosphere.”

For more information, go to

The School of Conscious Living uses the enneagram as its main tool for identifying personality types but has created other forms of identifying levels of consciousness and steps to achieving higher consciousness. The following are descriptions of the nine different personality types as described by the enneagram itself. For more information on the enneagram or to take a free sampler test, go to 


The rational, idealistic type: principled, purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionistic

The caring, interpersonal type: demonstrative, generous, people-pleasing and possessive

The success-oriented, pragmatic type: adaptive, excelling, driven and image-conscious

The sensitive, withdrawn type: expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed and temperamental

The intense, cerebral type: perceptive, innovative, secretive and isolated

The committed, security-oriented type: engaging, responsible, anxious and suspicious

The busy, fun-loving type: spontaneous, versatile, distractible and scattered

The powerful, dominating type: self-confident, decisive, willful and confrontational

The easygoing, self-effacing type: receptive, reassuring, agreeable and complacent