Being aware is like breathing, it is fundamental to our every day existence. Without awareness we are moving throughout life without breathe, without direction, without connecting with ourselves and thus others.
Awareness is often mistaken as seeing outward, noticing what others are doing, how they are doing things, how they are stopping us from doing certain activities or stopping us from living our life. Most of our notion of awareness is being aware of others and how they are affecting us. We sometimes consider ourselves to be very aware beings because we notice everything that people are doing around us.
We notice the personal success of others, we notice the gains of others, and we notice what others have. We are aware of what our neighbors have that we don’t have, we are aware of a great relationship someone else has that we don’t have, we are aware of a career someone else has that we don’t have, we are aware of a great life another person has that always feels like it was achieved through the loss of our own life. Our awareness over time turns into wariness, always being wary of what is going on with others around us.
However, awareness also involves having an inward focus, not just an outward focus. It involves personal empowerment. Awareness is knowing how we breathe, knowing the patterns that we have in our everyday life, awareness is understanding our connection to the Universe; awareness is knowing our beliefs, our mind, our spirit, our body. Many people have written about the gaining of awareness. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was about understanding levels of awareness that we need to have as a person. He saw total awareness as self actualization, the highest level in the hierarchy.
Another way of looking at awareness is through exploring the ancient teachings of the chakras which originated four thousand years ago. There are seven chakras and each chakra represents steps to pass through in the aim of achieving ever-expanding states of consciousness. The seventh chakra, Sahasrara, is about awareness through self-knowledge, gaining an understanding of our identify within the universe.
There are many philosophical thoughts around achieving awareness. In her book, “Eastern Body, Western Mind”, Anodea Judith, discusses three types of philosophical thought to gain awareness.
1. The enlightenment philosophies, whose movement is upward and beyond, toward mental and spiritual realms. They are derived primarily from Eastern Cultures and their focus is on transcendence. They seek to escape the trials and tribulations of the mundane world by ascending to higher planes of consciousness that transcend suffering.
2. The embodiment philosophies, whose movement is down and in, towards the realms of manifestation, soul, body, and engagement with the world around us. They are reflected in the practice of somatic therapy, bioenergetics and earth-centered spirituality. Their focus is on immanence, or the presence of the divine within. They seek to end suffering by engaging with the forces that cause it.
3. The integrative philosophies, whose movement is toward integration of opposites, mind and body, Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, light and shadow, male and female. The goal of integrative philosophies is transformation and wholeness. – (Judith, A, pp.xi)
All of these philosophies rely on gaining an understanding of awareness of self. They all require mental strength and look within to know more about self.
First Step to Creating Awareness
The first step to creating awareness is recognizing that you want to. Having awareness could be described as having a learning pathway for your life. Learning more about you is part of growing as a person. If we choose not to gain self awareness then we stagnate in life and don’t grow. This may sound very harsh but how many times have we looked at others and wondered why they have never moved on in life or grown. People like this usually complain about their life but are unwilling to do anything about it.
Unfortunately this person who we are observing is a mirror of ourselves. Self awareness means knowing our self more and this can be pretty scary at times. However the down side is not growing as a person. So by developing mental strength, taking the first step and getting past the scary bit is really important.
Creating awareness also supports us in identifying the areas of our life that work for us and the ones that don’t. Think back to the time when you wanted to change something in your life, and you kept trying to do this but it just never happened. Eventually you gave up, possible feeling unsuccessful and defeated. We often take on new things to change our life, adding more things to what we do rather than unpacking or looking at what we already do to understand this more.
With NLP there is a powerful technique called “modeling.” When executed correctly with awareness a person observes the strategies, physiology and internal representations of the “model” (the person they’d like be like, i.e. get the same results) and then takes on the action (a behavior) that the model would take.
By being aware we know that it’s just not the behavior/action that creates the desired results. We understand that the behavior (the action) is the byproduct of thinking, beliefs, values as well as physiology….to be continued.
Now, please let me know your thoughts so far in the comments below.
I’d like to thank my coaching school, ICA, for their inspiration and assistance with this topic.
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