Developing Self Awareness: Here’s How to Practically Increase Your Everyday Awareness

What is awareness or the power of presence?

It is simply knowing that something is real if it exists in this moment. All else is self-created illusion.

If you look around and spot a chair or a table or a bed, then as soon as you spot it, you are consciously aware of it. That chair or table or bed is here and now.

If you keep thinking about yesterday and the movie that you watched last night without realizing it – you are not aware at that moment. You have been taken over by random thoughts. But if you see that you’re lost in all those thoughts, you are consciously aware again.

The advantage of being aware is that if you are aware of your surroundings (first), your body (next), your thoughts and even your emotions – you realize something that can’t be expressed in words. You realize that YOU are there and all these other things (including your thoughts and emotions) are like ripples on your ‘surface.’ So, if you are angry – a part of you knows that there is just an ‘angry emotion’ washing over you – you are not completely the anger.

You would then not be swayed and be made angry, happy or sad, by what people said about you – at least not without a deeper you noticing it. You would not be operated by a remote control others used, for a part of you – the deepest part – would be there as a witness to your thoughts and emotions.

While there is still a long way for me to go before I am always peaceful and unaffected by external circumstances, here are 2 interesting ways that have helped me be much more aware.

Awareness Strategy # 1:
Developing Self Awareness by Living in the Present

Oh yes, you’ve heard it many times – why keep thinking about the past and the future? Why not live in the present?

You may have heard this many times, but just attempting to come back to the present moment can work wonders.

Here’s what happened some time ago:

One day, long ago, a guy from my college spoke rudely to me and ‘insulted’ me. I felt terribly angry at him. I left the room in a hurry. JUST then, I took a deep breath. And thought – only RIGHT NOW exists! And I realized that – that meant that in this moment – only the walls around me existed, my feet touching the floor existed, the color of the door I was seeing existed – the breeze caressing my face existed. It took me a lot of effort to focus my attention on the ‘now’ rather than on the intense emotion.

Within a few minutes, the insult – and my classmate’s anger did not exist any more. It was the PAST already. In this moment – I was outside my room and in the moment.

Suddenly my mood changed. I became happy naturally. There was no point holding on to what had happened a few seconds ago. I felt calmer, peaceful.

My classmate and me made up quite soon too. 🙂

The point is – just becoming aware of the present moment shifted my perspective so much as to change my mood from boo hoo hoo to yo man! 🙂

Another day, a wasp was hovering near me. I felt fear. I kept having thoughts like – it can bite me…Then I thought – but it hasn’t bitten me yet! I am imagining the future – which hasn’t even come. I mean, RIGHT NOW – there CAN BE NOTHING wrong? If it comes nearer, I will automatically handle the situation. But right now – all is well – the wasp is AWAY – why trouble myself with fearful future prospects?

The situation became better. I felt peaceful. The wasp didn’t do anything, it went away.

Think about it – Can there be anything WRONG RIGHT NOW? RIGHT now in this very moment. Not later in the day. Right now? Not really.

Look around you. Use your senses. Hear the sounds. Touch things. Smell the air! Right here right now, life rocks eh…It does.

Awareness Strategy #2:
Developing Self Awareness by Observing Your Breath

 This is something AGAIN that you must have heard everywhere when hearing anything at all about awareness or de-stressing. The point is – When in the day do you notice your breath?
How many times a day do you do it?

Once I was in Atlanta, conducting lab experiments all day. It was hard work and I did not really like testing enzyme samples and spending all day loading test tubes. THEN suddenly, I STOPPED. I breathed in deeply.  I observed the air going in through my nostrils. I observed it going down into my stomach causing the stomach to expand. After I had inhaled enough, I observed the pause. For an instant there was complete silence before I started exhaling away. Then I watched how the stomach contracted and the air flowed out of my nostrils.

My boredom vanished… I felt peaceful. Calm. Relaxed. It’s true – just one breath had that effect.

I kept taking three breaths like this many times during the day. And I felt relaxed and more aware as well as alert.

Try taking a breath every once in a while – a conscious breath. Don’t do it just for the heck of it – actually observe the air coming in, the stomach expanding – and the pause before you exhale. Notice how that feels.

This article on stress relaxation techniques has 2 more pretty simple de-stressing ways.

The point is – rock your day by being there – not being lost in thoughts you’re not even controlling.