Harnessing Your Awareness
Awareness is the catalyst for all meaningful change in your life.
The steps that I have outlined so far in this blog series all work together to create powerful change in one’s life. Ultimately, however, the progress made rests upon one factor more than any other: awareness. MWellA—Mind Wellness Awareness—is a name that came to me one beautiful day on Avalon Beach in Sydney, Australia. To me, it encapsulates the understanding that you can be conscious of where your mind is and the thoughts you are having and that this is the most essential link to true wellness. One can develop a strong sense of awareness and use this as the barometer for thoughts, feelings, emotions, and moods. This is the most powerful mechanism for you to activate peace of mind, contentment, and tranquility.
The awareness I am speaking of arises the moment you become conscious of your senses at birth and comes into play with every thought, from the very first thought you have in the morning to your last each night before sleep takes over. By engaging your awareness, you can become more mindful of your thoughts, desires, and actions, which is the ultimate key to mastering stress and is of enormous benefit in your everyday life.
The moment you have a thought, a feeling is triggered. Depending on the intensity of this thought, the feeling could be lingering or brief and will also generate an emotion or a mood. Your desire is heightened by this process, and this is where we have the opportunity to employ our willpower. You have the opportunity to say No to disruptive or destructive thoughts and Yes to those that are desirable. This discernment rests upon your ability to follow your innermost feelings. Your awareness of your thoughts, and the strength of your willpower, plays an essential role in the outcome of those thoughts. These factors determine to what degree your thoughts become feelings, emotions, moods, and ultimately action.
In progressing toward a place of contentment, I would find it helpful to observe the links between my senses, thoughts, feelings, emotions, moods, and desires. When I was at the Menninger Clinic, I noticed how the visual stimulus of seeing other patients and sensing their depressed state gave rise to the thought that I didn’t want to remain in a similar state forever. A feeling of sadness was the result of this thought. My brain’s physical response was the expression of the emotion of sadness as tears streamed down my face. My mood was instantly lowered; as my serotonin levels dropped, I eventually couldn’t get out of bed. My desire to free myself from the confines of the Menninger Clinic and these mind conditions grew stronger and stronger; I didn’t like my surroundings and I wanted to get home. I clung to this desire, and I had to exercise considerable willpower to fulfill this desire. It was important for me to be aware of what had initially triggered this desire, and with this awareness of the true nature of my desire and where it would lead me, I was able to exercise my willpower and achieve my goal of returning home to my family. The awareness of the original thought was the driving force for achieving my goal.
Perhaps the most important component of this process is the ability to recognize useful thoughts and to prevent other thoughts from hijacking them. Conversely, there is great power in deciding to kill off harmful thoughts early on, before they gather too much momentum. This all rests upon the power of your awareness.
During my recovery, I found it helpful to keep a small diary of my progress, which was a great aid for learning to monitor my state and ultimately to master my stress. It is useful to write down, on a day-to-day basis, the root causes or primary triggers of your destructive and constructive thoughts, and I suggest incorporating this into one’s routine. Use this information to develop your awareness of where your desires and temptations arise from and when you should say No to these desires. It could relate specifically to a practice in your life or one of the nine steps I’ve been outlining if you are so inclined, such as nutrition or exercise, or to an aspect more specific to your particular situation.
It is important to understand that most of our desires take us toward either the “dark side” or the “bright side” of life. We must use our power of awareness to monitor where our thoughts and desires are leading us—toward a place of contentment, or further away from achieving true peace of mind. Most people live in a grey area, never truly aware of the direction they are choosing. Through maintaining an awareness of your desires, your innermost feelings will help guide you in a direction where your ambition, goals, needs, and desires all come into a state of balance and allow you to find contentment. The key to taking back the power of our awareness is to be aware and mindful of the decisions we are making today.
Be mindful that temptation toward the dark side will come from all directions. For example, as you refine your diet, people will still be making you your favorite dish or asking you to join them for food that is no longer of benefit to you. It is common for the people in our lives to feel threatened by our desire for change and improvement, and you may encounter resistance from them to your attempts to change as they try to keep you a party to destructive behavior and habits. It is up to you to say No to the desires that no longer lead you to the bright side of life—to contentment and peace of mind. Awareness of the equilibrium between your ambition and contentment is also essential in the management of stress; without this balance, ambition can be a harmful source of stress and poor lifestyle decisions.
We are constantly told through the media and through our culture what we should want, what we should have, and what we should be. You, and only you, have the power to be aware of your own innermost feelings and the nature of your desires. Awareness and mindfulness of your thoughts and desires will give you a much greater command of your life’s true needs. It opens the way for you to become the true “new you” as you develop your awareness of who you really are and become the person you are meant to be.
Original post: www.psychologytoday.com