In this article I am going to share the knowledge of how to increase awareness. In the first part of it I will try to answer the questions: “What is awareness? Why do we need it?” And the second part will be devoted to developing awareness methods.
Awareness or consciousness is the ability of our mind to monitor and analyze our inner being and external environment, and to make emotional free judgments about things, drawing clear conclusions and creating thoughtful methods of behavior.
Awareness gives you a deep knowledge of yourself; it helps you gain a full control of your thoughts and emotions and make reasonable choice of your life.
What is Awareness for?
Awareness allows you to:
- Make deliberate decisions
- Be guided in your actions by mind and logic, instead of emotions and instincts
- Control and constrain your emotions (rage, envy, nervousness)
- Analyze the subjective environment soberly and solve your problems
- Not to be deceived and manipulated
- Be a good judge of character
- Have a good understanding of yourself and solve the internal problems (depression, fears)
- Be aware of your actions and avoid mistakes
Being conscious means to look after yourself and watch what’s going on around you constantly.
This means that you must constantly ask yourself the most courageous questions and find the answers with great perseverance.
- “Why am I doing this?”
- “What do I really want?”
- “Why do I complain so much?”
- “Why is my wife displeased with me?”
- “Why is my life so, and not the other one?”
- “What can I do to improve it?”
Most people ignore these issues. They do not think about tomorrow, they do not understand the reasons of their actions guided by emotions and instincts, mechanically and thoughtlessly. They are not used to think, to take independent decisions, and the majority of their actions are dictated by momentary impulses, instead the sober assessment of the situation.
As a result, they do not achieve harmony with themselves, because they do not understand themselves, they do not achieve harmony with other people, because they do not seek to understand other people and they do not achieve harmony with life, because they do not think about what is happening around.
Living in Illusion
Many people live in an eternal illusion. They spend money in the belief that owning expensive things will bring them happiness. They spend all day long at work and drown a weekend in alcohol, believing this to be the whole meaning of existence. They quarrel over a mere trifle, are angry with each other and suffer.
Awareness is like a flashlight, which pierces the veil of illusion and illuminates what is hidden behind it. In this light absence, the existence plunges into the darkness of blind desires, instincts and deception.
Awareness is sobriety and clarity as opposed to intoxication by emotions and fears.
Awareness is the desire to acquire knowledge about yourself and the world around. Without this knowledge no personal development is possible.
This quality does not come from above since birth, as well as many other human skills. Awareness requires development. Further we will discuss the issue of how to develop awareness.
An Ability of Being an Observer
Have you ever thought about why the great writers, like Leo Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, have managed to describe in detail the inner world of a man, revealing human characters so precisely that fictional characters become real?
The deep understanding of a man, which we see in the classical writers’ works, occurred not only because of a great mind or genius. In my opinion, people like Leo Tolstoy had some phenomenal awareness.
They have developed a habit of constantly watching themselves and other people, noticing everything that occurred round them, analyzing, reflecting, drawing conclusions, and keeping all this in memory.
None of us is able to be inside the other person, therefore, the fact that an adult man had managed accurately to describe the inner world of a young girl, is so amazing!
Like the astronomer who studies the distant stars using the knowledge of physical processes on the earth, the writer compares the observation data over people with the knowledge gained from the observation over his own inner world.
Such observation gave birth to the complex fictional nature of characters (based on real ones) and to the novel situation, in which these characters existed.
This example demonstrates the basic principle of awareness development. There is no need to be a genius to understand the nature and desires of the other person and to understand yourself. To achieve the purpose, you need to become an observer.
Tips to Improve Awareness
Be Aware of Your Inner World
To develop awareness you need to develop a habit of constantly watching what is going on inside you and realize it.
Ask yourself questions:
- “Why am I afraid of mice, even though they are small and cannot harm me?”
- “Why am I late at work instead of devoting this time to my children?”
- “What do I really want?”
- “Why don’t women like me?”
- “Why do I drink so much?”
- “Why do I quarrel with my wife? What’s the point? What do I want to prove? “
No need to settle for the first answer that comes to your mind. Chances are your ego will palm off on you a “convenient “, instead of a truthful answer. For example, you might want to blame other people or external circumstances not to feel yourself guilty.
Therefore, take your time and try to be the most honest with yourself. The majority of people never ask themselves these questions. And if they do ask, they cannot answer them honestly.
There is no need to be together with this majority.
Be Aware of Your Emotions
Constantly realize your emotional state. Your task is to take the position of a detached observer, as if you look at the other person.
What does this person feel? Anger, shyness, fear…
Your task is to notice any changes in your mood constantly: “Now I’m excited, angry, annoyed or hurt by someone’s behavior”.
First, simply observe your feelings and try to maintain a certain distance between your true self and your feelings.
Then, try to analyze your emotions. Why did they occur? How often do they occur? Where do they lead? Do they make sense?
As an example, consider a common situation. You had a bad day, you are annoyed. You came home and you were down on your wife or husband’s action. You start to quarrel. It’s time to say STOP and watch yourself.
What do you feel? You are annoyed and you know that in such a situation any trifle can drive you mad. When you calm down, you will find out that the reason of the quarrel was ridiculous, despite the fact that at the moment the whole situation seems a conflict one for you.
This occurs many times, and you can perfectly imagine the mechanism of event development. If you do not stop, the conflict will start and your claims will cause a reaction in your husband or wife.
Mutual accusations will bring the situation to the extreme, which can lead to disaster.
There is no point in quarreling. It will not lead to the problem resolution; it will create a new one instead. In short, you do not need it.
Here’s what you shall think about at such moments. Awareness gives you the right to choose, or to go on about your emotions and to provoke trouble, or not to allow a conflict to be developed. This is an example of how to keep track of your emotions.
Many people believe that their emotions are a part of their true self. Therefore, they cannot resist their feelings and keep them under control. If they are angry, they begin to cry, even if they know that it will lead to disaster.
Then, calming down and watching the effects of the disaster they think: “Well, what could I do, I was angry and in this state I cannot cope with myself”.
Due to this behavior, they become like a cat that jumps out of the window to catch a bird, even if the window is on the 12th floor. The animal’s behavior is unconscious and dictated by instincts. But man, as opposed to an animal, is conscious and has the freedom to do what the mind tells him, instead of instincts or emotions.
Emotions are not your true self. We can be aware of them and manage them. The statement may seem vague to someone, but this understanding comes with practice of awareness development.
It sounds difficult and it is really difficult, but it is susceptible to practice and training.
If you build a habit of constantly watching yourself, then you will no longer identify yourself with your emotions. You will deduce awareness beyond the emotional world and you will be able to observe yourself as if from the outside.
You will find out that many negative emotions, fears ruin your life. They do not make any sense. Envy and anger pursue no other purpose, except indulgence to your ego. They control you and deprive you of free choice to act reasonably.
Be Aware of Your Body
Pay attention to your physical feeling. How does do you feel the next day after drinking alcohol? How do you feel after exercising? Are you less tired if you do breaks during the work, in comparison with those days when you have no rest at all? What do you feel in the evening, if you drink a lot of coffee during the day? On what days you sleep better? On what days you have more energy?
Notice all this and remember. Learn to listen to your body and give it what it needs.
Think About the Consequences of Your Actions
Think about every action. Always ask yourself, “and what’s next?”
- Do you want to take a credit for purchasing an expensive car that you cannot afford? Ask yourself: “and what’s next? How will I pay? What if I lose my job? Will I be able to pay for the car service? Why do I need an expensive car now? What’s the point? Why not wait?”
- Do you want to divorce your wife and leave her for another woman? “And what will be later, when my feelings for this new woman will go off the boil? Are my current relations at an impasse? Have I done everything I can in order to bring the relations out of the impasse? What will happen to my children? “
If you get used always to ask yourself about the reasons and consequences of your actions, then, it will save you from rash and impulsive actions, which you will regret later.
Be Aware of Other People
Watch for other people. Look how they live, what they feel. Try to understand the reasons for their actions and especially their attitude towards you.
Stop labeling other people. Evaluate each person as an individual and independent personality, with all the depth of character peculiar to this personality.
Listen to the People
Listen to people and pay attention to what they say. Don’t hurry to interrupt the interlocutor to express your point of view. Learn to listen. You are not the only one who has valuable ideas. You can hear a lot of things from other people, including things about yourself.
Respect the others’ opinions and learn to accept criticism adequately
If you always listen to others, then it will help you become less obsessed with yourself and with your problems. You will understand that you are not the only person that have some problems and that your troubles are not the worst ones.
Understanding people will help reduce irritation concerning others’ actions
Each human act stays organically within the character and personality of the specific person.
Each, even the most mean, unethical man, acts up to his feelings, his thoughts, his experiences and his ideas of good and bad.
All the irritation occurs because of misunderstanding. Sometimes we get angry because a friend of ours deceived us; because we do not understand such action as we believe that we would never act the same way.
But if we try to understand the reasons for such action, it will always occur that such behavior had its reasons.
The important is that when we understand the logic that guides other person when choosing his actions, even if the logic is completely alien to us, our irritation is softened.
For this reason, in the heat of quarrel you can hear the reconciling phrase, – “Do understand me!” – which reflect the desire of one person to open up to the other person and to resolve the conflict.
Learn from People
Adopt someone else’s experience. Pay attention to people’s strengths and try to understand what these people did to acquire these qualities. What was the reason for their success? Use this information for your self-development
Look at their weaknesses and think about what they haven’t done to prevent the emergence of these shortcomings. Do not make the same mistakes.
The outside world and the people around you represent a rich repository of valuable information! You can get the information free of charge and can use it to your advantage. Do not miss the opportunity!
Be Aware of Your Environment
Keep track of what is going on around you: at your job, in your city, in your country and generally in the world. Develop the ability to perceive information critically. When something starts occurring around, keep a sober assessment of the situation, overcome the ambience and always have your own opinion.
Read news, books and informative articles. Spend less time on social networks. Seek to learn about the world as much as possible. “Why do wars occur?”, “Why is the sky blue?”, “How does the Internet work?”, “Why is my computer so slow on start up?”, “How much do I spend on food per month?”
Be on Your Own as Often as Possible
In the conditions of modern life, information avalanches fall on the man. TV, Internet, work, meetings. A modern person is rarely left alone with his own thoughts: he is constantly busy. He works by day, and when he is back home in the evening, he listens to music or “picks” his tablet. At home he watches a series or football until he falls asleep.
Such rhythm of life is supported by a persistent habit of getting information. Many people feel some discomfort in situations when they are alone with themselves, doing nothing at all. They seek to fill the information gap by all means: work, food, alcohol, Internet or TV.
Because of this, they have no time to think about their lives and about their problems. Their brain is constantly busy with something else.
Surely you’ve come across such a situation when a few hours you struggled with a problem unsuccessfully (suppose, at work). When you went for lunch and relaxed a little bit, you had a hunch that from the very beginning you have been doing the whole thing in a wrong way, and therefore, you would save time and start all over again.
When your brain is captured by some activity, it starts focusing on details and nuances that are related to that activity. Behind these little trifles, the global problem vision begins to disappear. It appears when you make a break, draw your attention away of countless nuances and focus on the entire prospect.
You cannot see the house entirely, if you lay parquet-flooring inside it. Stop lying the parquet-flooring, move away from the building and only then the whole picture will appear before your eyes. Perhaps, the house foundation leans and the whole building can tumble down any minute now, if no action is taken. Therefore, now it makes no sense to lay the parquet-flooring and decorate the porch.
The same principle is applicable throughout your whole life. Behind the trifles, the whole picture disappears.
During half of your life, you can be enthusiastically busy with trifles, spending all the time and energy, and then, at 50 years of age you may regain your consciousness and realize that you have wasted your time.
Just because you did not stop in time and did not think about: “Where am I going?” “Why am I doing this?” During doing your everyday job and TV-watching, you simply had no time to think about!
It is very unpleasant to realize that for decades you diligently tried to decorate your porch with garlands when the house itself has long since come crashing down.
Therefore, make pauses in your affairs, learn to endure loneliness and meditate! Do not expect that once you are alone – you will gain an insight into the life meaning.
This does not always happen. Just relax, your thoughts will come by their own, you should not try to cause them. In an atmosphere of silence and solitude, all the thoughts, which you carefully suppressed, will come out.
It will be a great chance to think not only about life in general, but also to reflect on the current problems and find adequate solution for them.
Do the Meditation Practice
All suggestions that you read above are related mainly to the technical part of the affair. They describe some rules that should be followed in order to live a conscious life.
But these rules are not sufficient, just the same as the knowledge of how to row properly in a boat is not sufficient as well. In order to row you need some muscles.
Likewise you need to develop your perception so that it could learn to be aware.
Meditation will help you. When you meditate, you observe your thoughts and emotions from outside. When you do it all the time, your ability to see things consciously grows, just the same as the muscle develops from constant loading.
Awareness involves the ability to put emotions aside and look at things with a sober view. I don’t know another more effective way to develop these skills, than meditation.
Meditation has become for me the blue Morpheus’s pill from “Matrix” movie, which opened my eyes to many things and helped to get out of the illusions.
If you want to raise your awareness, then meditation is the thing I’d recommend to start with. Learn how to meditate properly.
Conclusion – the Choise of Being Free
Earlier, I had never asked myself questions like, “Why am I doing this” and “Where I’m going”. I did not think about what will happen later. “Here and now” were important to me.
I retired from employment, because it bothered me, and I had no plan where to raise money. I drank until passed out without thinking about the consequences for myself.
When I went to university, I did not think about the things I want to do when I graduate the university. I went sadly with the fate stream, in obedience to every momentary desire, secretly hoping that this stream will take me out to some sugar shores. I can say that at that time I had a very low level of awareness.
Over time I learned how to manage my life and achieve the desired goals. I began to think about my emotions and actions, constantly asking myself the hard questions, which I’ve escaped earlier.
It allowed me to look at my life quite differently.
Awareness offers a choice that exists in your life. The choice of being free from desires and emotions, the choice of building your life by yourself, the choice of being happy…