Awareness – The First Step to Authentic Living

Tich Nhat Hahn says, “Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”

When we become more aware, we have more choice and can get in touch with what really resonates for us in life.  When we make choices and use them to dance to the beat of our own drum, we are living more authentically.

So why not shine a little awareness on your life?  Yet, when most of us try to “be more aware” a few things usually go wrong.  First up, we are “trying” and that defeats the purpose of “noticing” – they don’t go so well together.  Secondly, we usually try to “think” ourselves to awareness.  Again, thinking tends to defeat “noticing”.  Not surprisingly perhaps to my yoga friends, our bodies hold the key.  Become more aware by engaging your body in the process?  And how can youTich Nhat Hahn quote do that?  Here are three simple awareness exercises to help you begin whether you practice yoga or not.

  1. Take a body awareness break.    Take just one minute of your time several times each day to simply notice your body.  That’s all – just notice.  You might be sitting at your desk thinking.  Stop, and shift your focus to your body.  Feel it, sense it, and be present to it.  That’s all.  If you notice your mind kicking in to explain the sensation you are noticing, notice that and then come back to being present to  your body.  Just one minute.  Try it now!
  2. Bring your body to your conversations.  From time to time when engaging in conversation let your attention come to your body and notice how it is receiving the words from the other – listening through your body.  Notice different physical responses in your body to different words, phrases, and voice tone, as well as content.
  3. Notice your bodily response to your environment or activity.  Different people, places, activities, and settings create very subtle shifts in body sensation.  Begin to tune in to them more, particularly each time you shift from one place to another during your day.  How does your body feel sitting at your dinner table?  How about in the bathroom while brushing your teeth?  And so on.

So after trying these you may be asking “what am I supposed to notice?”  Or, “what do I do with what I notice?”  The answer for both for now is the same – “Nothing!” Not just yet. The first task is to simply practice awareness without agenda, judgment, or problem solving. Once you can do that you can then begin to use it without your mind filtering the purity of your awareness first.   Once awareness through your body becomes a tool you are very comfortable with, it will serve you well.  Of course, one of the best ways to practice embodied awareness is through a yoga practice or receiving a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session or class where your practitioner/teacher is skilled in guiding your experience.   But the above simple exercises will give you a good start and are also an important step in the journey towards authentic living using embodied presence  – one of the best tools I’ve discovered.