Awareness is an interesting thing. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines awareness as “the quality or state of being aware: knowledge and understanding that something is happening or exists.” Sometimes we are able to expand our awareness in a way that helps us stretch, grow and understand ourselves and our surroundings better than we ever have before. Sometimes something traumatic or difficult happens, and we find our awareness shrinks to become stuck on only a small area of our lives. This ebb and flow of awareness is normal for most people…and it’s when we notice that we are ‘stuck’ more than we are expanding that we realize that gaining more control of our ‘awareness choices’ is going to have a huge impact on our lives.
Did you notice the word “choices” in the previous sentence? That’s because our awareness is a choice, meaning that what we choose to focus on…or remove focus from…is simply a choice. Think about a conversation you may have had with someone you know in the last year, where either you or they were processing through something that had high levels of emotion attached to it….possibly a breakup, divorce, death, lay-off from work, etc. If there is ever a situation that has high emotion attached to it, it’s a signal to us that our focus and awareness are stuck in a certain place, therefore our ability to expand and grow becomes hindered. We aren’t able to progress, and we are also usually blocked from feeling contentment, peace and inspiration to act.
So how do we release our focus, or awareness from something it’s stuck on? There are many ways to accomplish this. We can do something to distract ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously. (Have you ever wondered why individuals/families going through tough times seem to attract trouble like car accidents, injuries, sicknesses, etc.? Sometimes we just need a distraction from what is holding our awareness captive). We can use many aspects of our yoga practice whether is it the use of meditation, svadhyaya (self-study), pratyahara (mind-withdrawal) or asana practice as the postures of yoga work with different chakras to allow release as well as empowerment/resilience. (See pp 6 – 9 in Essential Yoga Practice book. Order your copy here today). We can use aromatherapy, which chemically gives our brain new operating instructions. We can work with a therapist or counselor, or use self-help books to process through WHY the situation is difficult due to the underlying beliefs we have about it.
Often, it’s our beliefs about why something is significant that changes our entire experience of it. For example, let’s say you are going to meet a friend for lunch, but they never show. What thoughts could start forming in your mind? I wonder where they are? Why didn’t they call me? Seriously, this is so irresponsible! I’m never going to plan something with this person again, what a waste of an afternoon! ….you could really work yourself up thinking about this terribly inconvenient experience. Just when you’ve gotten yourself all upset, you receive a phone call from one of their family members telling you they were in a serious accident earlier and were in the hospital recovering. What thoughts are going through your head now? Oh my goodness, I hope they’re okay! What a terrible thing to have happen! How can I help? Chances are, all thoughts of irritation and anger have now been replaced by concern. Was the situation different? No – they still stood you up for lunch. But in the first scenario, you chose to believe that they were irresponsible and wasted your time. In the second, you received additional information to change your beliefs because you now know that they missed the lunch through no fault of their own.
…So what if you could choose to have a different belief without the additional information? Your beliefs will determine your life experience, and you can choose to have whatever experience you want every single day.
How to get started? Start processing either verbally or in writing about the areas you feel stuck. See if you can identify where you have placed your awareness or focus. Ask yourself what you would probably have to believe in order to have __________ outcome. Keep asking yourself this question over and over again, and write down the answers until you feel like you’ve had a shift of insight.
You can also use meditation to accomplish this same type of outcome. The ideal practice in meditation is to have a one pointed focus so that we take a break from the “fluctuations of the mind,” and over time this will help shift perspective more toward acceptance. A one pointed practice can be to focus on the breath, on a mantra, on a prayer, on sound healing like a singing bowl or chime, …No matter what what that one-pointed focus is, it gives us a break from replaying the scenario in our head so much that we contort it and in doing so, contort the reality that is there. It allows us the opportunity to create the space around the situations that we replay so that understand them better, have time to accept what is going on and more importantly, have time to choose how to react .
For either of these options, add aromatherapy to help you release whatever limiting beliefs you’ve been holding on to, and let your awareness expand you.
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