The Gift Of Awareness

We all have an unconscious limit of what we feel we deserve and it is specific to each area of our life, such as money, happiness, love, success, and even our health.  This level has been unknowingly crafted from our experiences and our lifelong programming. Sadly, many times this is often so low that we sabotage ourselves and restrict all the goodness that is meant for us!  What if I told you there is a way to change your perception of your “deservingness”?

ACE

Inspired by the game of volleyball, I have devised the acronym ACE to help us walk through the tools that have the potential to bring about profound healing and a shift to not only allowing but reaching for all the amazingness you deserve in this lifetime! ACE stands for Awareness, Compassionate Connection, Envision. It all starts with the skill of awareness.

AWARENESS

“Awareness begins with the breath” is a common message one hears in the world of yoga.  What does this actually mean, you may be wondering.  I’ll do my best to explain. One of the most important benefits of yoga is the increased ability to control our focus, so the breath is used as a place to turn our attention.  It becomes an anchor and even a gauge of sorts. Shallow breathing can indicate restriction, fear, the need to control, or the inability to take in what life is offering. On the other hand, deep breathing allows us to expand, to release tension, to feel energized, and quickly connects us with the present.  In this place of focus, the mind chatter subsides. Because what we do on our mat is what we do in our life, this is a perfect starting point, a place to practice awareness.  But what exactly are we trying to be aware of?

IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT NAME YOU GIVE IT

Whether you’ve heard it called negative mind chatter or self-help names such as Conditioned Self, the Domesticated Self, the Dark Side Monster, it’s all the same- it’s the voice in your head that constantly criticizes, judges, compares, tells you what you can’t do, what will go wrong if you try, that you might embarrass yourself, what you lack, and just how damn SCARY everything is! The crazy thing is, it really believes that it is helping; that it’s job is to protect you and this is how to do it.  Wrong! It just makes you want to stop dreaming, stop trying, and STAY- stay unhappy, stay in the job you hate, stay in the unhealthy relationship, stay home, and for goodness sake, STAY SMALL! And to make it worse, it’s manipulative and it knows our wounds, which makes it dangerous, as Goswami Kriyananda explains in the Intermediate Guide to Meditation, “The yogi says these inner thought patterns are very dangerous because they cause one to become unaware of one’s environment. In this state of unawareness, one is controlled by the environment.  Awareness gives control over one’s circumstances.”  So, in order to quiet that negative voice down and have the last word, we have to learn the skills.

THE HOW

I’ve explained a bit about how yoga and using the breath brings awareness to body and mind, but would like to offer some other tools to help grow this skill as well.

Meditation

As alluded to by the source of my quote, meditation is one of the most powerful ways to increase awareness and most often uses the breath in the practice.  You may be thinking meditation isn’t your thing or it’s just too “woowoo” for you, or maybe you are open to it, but you don’t know how and are not sure where to start. First, I want to move some misconceptions out of the way.

  • There is NOT one perfect way to meditate.
  • You do not have to be seated in lotus, hands in a specific gesture (Mudra), and chanting OM. These things
  • are perfectly good, but not the only way.
  • It doesn’t have to be done in a yoga studio or temple.
  • It does not have to be religious.
  • You don’t have to meditate for hours to reap the benefits.
  • You are not doing it wrong if you get distracted, sleepy, or even if your mind is still chatting away- stay with it.

What I do know is:

  • It is a PRACTICE and therefore will change and improve over time.
  • It is powerful and healing.
  • The stillness, once achieved, is beautiful and so peaceful.
  • It will cultivate focus and give you control over your thoughts.
  • Even 5 minutes a day can improve your life.
  • It is even more powerful when done in a group.
  • There are many books, videos, and teachers of meditation, so if this is something you want to pursue, listen to your intuition and only choose what resonates with you-you will know.

WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS

There are other ways to gain awareness without committing to a full meditation practice, such as the Reflective Technique offered in the Intermediate Guide to Meditation. It is a simple way to begin to notice your thoughts, including their patterns and themes.

  • Form a posture. (Comfortable and without distractions)
  • Take a few deep breaths.
  • Reflect on your attitudes.
  • Become quiet, and watch your thoughts as they flow.

As much as possible, just be an observer. Do not judge or get hung up on a particular thought. Try this for 3-5 minutes. When you are finished, jot down your observations. What patterns did you notice? Which ones were hardest to let flow by?  What did you learn about yourself?

WAKE UP TO FREEDOM

It’s really about waking up and starting to question why- Why do I believe that? Is that really true? Why do I think that is wrong and that is right? Why do I believe that is possible but that isn’t? Paying attention to our thoughts breaks the habit of allowing them to just jabber away and believe them as fact. Once we can stop and really hear them, we have time to evaluate whether they are helpful or harmful.  This will become the new norm- choosing our thoughts and then choosing our response.  This is the incredible gift- freedom and control in your life!  You will begin to feel a powerful shift in consciously creating your experiences- the one’s you deserve!

Stayed tuned for the C- Compassionate Connection, the next step in ACEing your life!