Awareness is focus

First comes Awareness, then Change

It starts with Awareness

Want the key to unlock the magic of Mindfulness? Awareness. There you have it. So simple. Yes, but tricky. Awareness is like the sun on a cloudy day – now you see it, now you don’t. Hard to hold on to. A lot of the principles of mindful conversation are pretty obvious, but if we rush through the day, on double-time, multi-tasking, or simply in a state of habitual unconsciousness, then the obvious is anything but obvious. First comes the awareness, then comes the change.

The Conscious Pause

One of my favorite tools for mindful conversation is the “conscious pause”. Basically, it involves deliberately slowing down, taking a deep breath, and tuning in to awareness. This can be accomplished in a second or two. No one else need even know you’re taking this radical step. But it changes everything.

Outside the grocery store, there was a woman in a hurry with a cart that seemed to have a mind of its own. Her look inferred that I was in her way. “Hey!” It just came out that way. We exchanged a few words. She seemed overbearing and unappealing. Almost immediately, and totally unconsciously, I turned on the judgmental switch that seems too often in the ready in my brain. All I could think about was all that was wrong with this person whom I had just bumped into, rushing unconsciously through life like a wild animal. Our conversation was like a cold blast of air passing through me. I closed my heart and sent myself into my own little prison of judgmentalism. And then, a tiny speck of light.  “Look what you are doing to yourself. Why?” That moment of awareness was all it took. I smiled. She smiled. I opened to our experience. Suddenly she didn’t seem so bad. In fact, we talked for another minute or so, and it was quite delightful. Even our grocery carts seemed to smile.

And ends with Awareness

When we wake up in the morning, we come suddenly into consciousness. But what kind of consciousness? I’m often pretty bleary-eyed for a while. then there is a more significant moment of consciousness when awareness arrives. Inner (thoughts, feelings, attitudes, judgments, beliefs) and outer (sights, sounds, tactile sensations, smells, tastes).  What a world it is! So much to explore. So much to discover. Or, without awareness, so much to miss. If you’re interested in reading more about this subject, check out this class by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach from Sounds True.

What role does awareness play in your life? How much of the time are you conscious of your inner world? the world around you? How much of the time are you on automatic? Click here for more information on Mindful Conversation.