Start to use these 5 simple ways to build awareness in your everyday life and empower yourself to live a life of choice.
When we practice being aware of our present moment experience, we build the foundation for making more conscious choices.
Here I share some of the simplest and yet powerful tools that I have used over the past years. There are many more and maybe you have your own, but perhaps you can add one or the other to your toolbox.
In the end it’s simple: Use mindfulness, movement and meditation practices to sense and feel yourself.
And with all of these tips remember to prioritise curiosity over judgement in getting to know yourself in each moment anew.
It might take a little time to build nuanced awareness. In the same way we don’t see results the first day we go to a gym. So offer yourself some patience.
Start small. Stay regular. And you’ll be amazed what becomes available to you with a refined ability of awareness. And how your relationship with yourself changes.
Tip #1 - Check in with kindness
Ask yourself frequently how you are and really tune into the different levels of your body, emotions and mind.
What kind of sensations do you notice in your body? Is there tingling, heaviness, lightness, space or contraction? Which parts of your body feel that way? Are any parts warm or cold? How does the air feel on your skin?
You could also go through all your other senses: what can you hear, smell, taste and eventually even see?
Then move to the emotional layer of your experience. How do you feel? How is your heart or in an even more abstract way, how would you describe your inner weather? And with any answer you get, stay curious and bring it back to the body. Ask yourself how you know that what you feel is sadness or joy or whatever emotion? How does that emotion feel in your body?
And lastly, just briefly take note of the thoughts and mental activities. What is your mind busy with. Without attaching to any thought or story, only a short observation from a distance.
If you want to make this a dedicated practice and resonate with journaling, this is an opportunity to start a little "How are you today?" section.
This works best if you take min one time per day every day to build the habit of gifting yourself this attention.
Tip #2 - Build the sensation and emotion vocabulary
Believe it or not, it is very difficult to have awareness of something which we cannot verbalise. At least the conscious level of our awareness is bound to words.
Until I can name a sensation or feeling, I might not be able to differentiate it from others.
So as silly as it sounds, draw on lists of sensations and emotional states to help yourself identify them at the start.
This link offers some example list of such words. You might find a more suitable one for yourself but you could begin with this.
Tip #3 - Meditation
If you do not already have a meditation practice, I highly recommend starting with some basic awareness meditation, ideally body based.
You might want to set aside 20 minutes in the morning and similarly to the check in become aware of the present moment.
The main difference to the check in is that now you will get to sit for an extended period of time and therefore get the opportunity to observe yourself and the changes taking place in your physical, emotional and mental bodies.
The intention is not to influence or change anything but to develop the inner witness who can as non-judgementally as possible be present to everything that arises.
This is a lovely little guide book written by colleagues of mine that introduces embodied meditation, if you are completely new to this.
Tip #4 - Mindful Daily Activity
Mindfulness in this sense means basically bringing your conscious attention to an action in your day that you are doing anyway.
It could be a mundane daily task, like washing dishes or brushing teeth. It could be walking to work, cutting vegetables or preparing your cup of coffee or tea. The little activities we do often absent minded on autopilot. They lend themselves well to practicing self-awareness.
Bringing curiosity to every movement involved, observing yourself and paying close attention to HOW you are doing it. How are you walking? How are you brushing your teeth?
You might be surprised by some small little peculiarities in your way of simply brewing a cup of tea. Maybe you will learn something about yourself.
Tip #5 - Movement
Movement is one of the best ways to cultivate awareness of the body and yourself.
By moving our bodies we wake up the senses, move stagnancy and counter numbness.
If you already have a movement practice or framework of a class in which you are moving, may it be Qi Gong, Yoga or dance, simply see to bring more awareness to how you are moving.
If you have no such practice, make space for yourself to move, shake or simply put on music you like and move to it for 10 minutes per day. Observe how it shifts your internal state.
Awareness is the foundation for choice
Once you have build a solid foundation of being able to feel yourself and be aware of how you are, you can more easily introduce choice. Unless we know how we are, we cannot change it.
The above tips focus mainly on state awareness. While some might already give you ideas about your patterns as well, there are additional practices (often relational) that focus more on uncovering your patterns.
Have a go and let me know how you are getting on!