Put down your phone and anything else that’s taking your attention at this moment. How does your body feel? What can you hear? What do you see? What do you feel? Does any of this surprise you? Are you noticing anything you haven’t noticed before? Take your time and go through these questions again…
Awareness. I’ve mentioned awareness a number of different times in other posts… usually in the context of how unaware I was through much of my adult life (although I thought I was really aware!). There was a whole bunch of stuff going on inside of me and around me and I had no clue!
Around the time I started to recognize the need to be more aware, I vividly remember going out for a long run. I went to a trail that I had run on many times before. At some point during the first mile I realized that I was looking down. I had been looking down the whole time. There was no need to look down… the trail is paved and straight. I thought… “interesting data point… I’ll just look up”. Easier said than done! I tried to force myself to look up and it was really hard!
As I ran I kept catching myself looking down and each time I would look up. By the end of the run I was looking up with little effort… I was seeing things on the trail I had never seen before. It was beautiful and I was enjoying everything around me. I was having more introspective thoughts than just going through my to-do list over and over again.
Following the run, I thought about the experience and how perfectly it paralleled my life. The advice I was always given at the beginning of my career was “keep your head down and do your work”. I put my head down when I was 25 and I didn’t pick it up for 17 years!
Now, I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t focus… at this moment I’m totally focused on what I’m writing. Focus and intensity are great when we are working on a project, a problem to solve, etc. What I am suggesting is that we take time each day to make sure we’re totally aware of our bodies, our minds, our feelings and what’s going on around us. When I started doing this all kinds of great things started to happen…
• I started to tune in to my intuition
• I communicated better because I wasn’t just reacting from my focused point, I was basing my communications on my awareness of each situation
• I started to find creative inspiration
• I saw opportunities to learn new things that I hadn’t seen before
• I was better able to empathize with others because I made myself aware of their feelings and individual circumstances
• I saw my skills from a different view because I was able to observe myself in situations
• I saw needs that I didn’t see before, and opportunities to use my skills in different and deeply meaningful ways
I could go on and on. The great thing is that after I started practicing awareness it just started to happen. It was a shift that was hard to make, but once made it became second nature. I can now focus on a project but still pick up on little nuances that I need to notice. For example, while I’m writing I often feel something and pause and a thought comes to me that is just right.
Interested in tuning in your awareness? Do the short exercise outlined in the first paragraph several times a day. Each time note something new or different that you notice. After a few weeks of practice, it will start coming naturally!