Most people experience daily life with little awareness. We go through life, seeing and feeling, but not really paying attention to what is going on within us. There's so much to do that we don't take time to consider why we do what we do, or if we even want to do certain things. Want to start feeling better as you go through your days? Start learning more about yourself, what you want, and why you want it.
1) What did I just do?
Do you think you're making choices with an awareness of yourself and what really serves you? Think for a moment about your day - why did you wear today's outfit, or listen to that particular radio station or podcast, or stop to get a candy bar after lunch?
Here's a quick example of how most people have a lack of awareness as they go about their days. It's dinner time, and everyone's hungry. But you have to get the kids to soccer practice, or music lessons, so you go through your favorite (or maybe just the closest) drive-thru to get some food. It's quickly eaten in the car. Check dinner off the list!
Did anyone really even taste their food? Do you notice how that food made you feel after you ate it?
The first step toward freedom is awareness.
Meal time is but one example of our lack of awareness. The first step toward better health, physical or mental, is awareness. The first step toward growth and learning is awareness.
We cannot know where we truly want to go in life if we are not aware of ourselves, our desires, our feelings, our choices, our attitudes.
"If what happens now does influence what happens next, then doesn't it make sense to look around a bit from time to time so that you are more in touch with what is happening now, so that you can take your inner and outer bearings and perceive with clarity the path that you are actually on and the direction in which you are going?" ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn,Wherever You Go, There You Are
2) Why did I do that?
Let me share a personal example from my journey with food choices. In the process of cutting out sugar from my diet, I easily omitted all sweet things made with refined sugar. I had done so in the past, and I can be pretty determined, so it wasn't that hard for me. I noticed that I still had periodic cravings for the dark chocolate I liked to eat. I let myself keep just that one thing in the cupboard, and I would eat a few squares of the chocolate bar from time to time.
As I paid attention to those times, I became aware of a few things. I realized that I only desired the chocolate when I was feeling emotional and wanted a source of comfort. I also realized that the chocolate didn't actually taste that good, but that it was bitter, and could feel that my body did not want me to eat it.
A lesson I took from this increased awareness was that I wanted a different way to deal with the emotional reasons for my eating the chocolate. It became a choice to eat or not eat the chocolate, instead of something I did absent-mindedly. I became more aware of these feelings, which led to increased awareness of where they came from and what triggered them.
All of this increased awareness leads to greater freedom - now I can choose to deal with the emotions in a particular manner instead of just eating something to trigger a chemical change in my brain.
3) Choose with awareness
As we become more aware, we allow ourselves and others space to grow and change. Here are some suggestions for increasing your awareness:
- Notice the foods you eat. How do they actually taste you you? How do you feel after you have eaten them? What do you want to eat? Are you actually hungry, or are you feeling bored or unsettled instead?
- Be aware of the music you listen to. How does your favorite song make you feel? Do you find that you want to listen to particular music when you feel a particular way? How does one genre of music make you feel compared to another?
- Pay attention to your bodily sensations throughout the day. How do your feet feel in your shoes? What does the grass feel like under your feet? If your experience physical pain in some part of your body, can you describe it? How does your breathing change in different circumstances and in different settings
Become more in tune with yourself
- Take a few moments as you go about your day to tune in to what you are feeling when you make the choices you make
- Start to pay attention to how you feel as you consume food, music, or any other form of entertainment, and how you feel in different environments
What have you noticed about the choices you make and how they affect you?