Mindfulness and awareness are wonderful theoretical topics to read about.
However, instead of reading about it and keeping it theoretical, I’m an even greater fan of translating it all, very practically, into modern day life.
How can you create more awareness in your modern day life?
It’s all about making small shifts, nothing too drastic and the best advice is to keep your expectations low for yourself.
How do you react when you feel ‘discomfort’?
This could be discomfort in the form of a headache, a backache, an underlying sensation of anxiety or dullness, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed and so on.
Let’s zoom into the discomfort of a headache as I see this happening all the time on my yoga retreats.
Someone mentions they have a bit of a headache and instantly, there’s at least 3 people offering a painkiller. Which is very nice of course as everyone is just willing to help out and relief their new friend of suffering.
And, it’s not about the painkiller itself, it’s about realizing that there could be a different reaction to the headache.
A different approach is to wonder what might cause the headache and explore it a little bit.
Without in any way pretending to be a doctor, just exploring if this headache could possibly mean something. Maybe it could be due to the fact that a person drinks a lot less coffee being on a retreat. There could be a serious change in diet, maybe leaving out sugar and fat is new to that person. Another possibility might be that there is giant release of built up stress, which kicks some bodies completely out of balance when a person starts relaxing.
Fact is when you toss in the painkiller and just move on, you might miss out on a wonderful opportunity to realize and feel what your body is telling you. An opportunity to get back in touch with your body and unite body and mind.
The question is: Can you be comfortable with being uncomfortable?
Do you dare to take the time to explore what it is that makes you feel uncomfortable?
What are you daily fueling up with?
One of the first things that dieticians make you do when you want to make a change in your diet is to note everything down that you’re putting into your little temple. You keep a record for a couple of days and you evaluate.
It’s quite remarkable sometimes how much we might snack during the day. A little bite here, a cookie with your coffee there (that might be a Dutch thing), sometimes we are very unaware of it all.
Writing it all down makes you more aware of what you eat, it’s very simple and very effective.
Fuel in the broadest sense
When we widen the definition of ‘fueling up’ and also include the intake of news and social media, things might really become interesting.
I highly suggest the same dietician method and note down the time you spend on social media and even specify where the time goes exactly.
When you do this for two days, it will make you hyper aware of your time management.
Not a very fun thing to do but it could be a bit of a shocker, especially when you claim that you are very ‘busy’. Busy with what exactly?
Mental Screen Observation
In yoga and meditation classes, I often refer to the ‘mental screen’ that we all have.
Literally, imagining your thoughts being projected onto a screen so you can observe if the mind is very busy or not so busy. The more visual you are, the easier this will be of course.
What you do is simply checking in with your thoughts. We have all heard the phrase that you can ‘change your world when you can change your thoughts’.
Well, the very first step to changing your thoughts is to be able to observe them.
There’s no need for complicated meditation techniques or loads of time.
You just sit down, take a couple of deep breaths and check in with your thoughts.
What am I thinking right now? And, how does this make me feel?
When you have thoughts that make you feel content and joyful, great. Instead, when you’re thinking of something or someone, and you have negative feelings, simply be aware.
In a second step, you might want to focus on something else.
Is it that easy? Yes, we are incredible beings but we can’t think of two things at the same time.
When you are in a very negative state of mind or you know that you’re suffering from a depression, this method is not for you. Telling someone who’s depressed to ‘just’ think happy thoughts is ridiculous. In this case, if you haven’t done so already, please seek help from a well-trained therapist.
You meditate by being aware, and relaxing. It’s very simple .
Step away from the Drama, Unplug
What’s the rush? Just be nice to each other, we are all going to die soon…
Soon is a very relative concept to me.
For some people it might mean to die within 10 years, for others 30 years and for our kids hopefully even a lot longer.
I first heard the phrase being used in a Buddhist environment when I was on retreat. It can come across as being negative at first but actually, it’s quite the opposite and liberating once you really grasp it.
In the same trend, the Dalai Lama said the following:
“Man, he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Be aware of the steps that you are taking in life. Make sure that you are actually living it.
Dare to step away from the drama, unplug, visit nature, enjoy.
Herewith my 4 easy ways to create more awareness in your daily life.