By Vladimir Marchenko
Every day we are flooded with thoughts, feelings and emotions. It makes us constantly think about the future and past and often leads to the point of burnout. And at this stage, it is about time to start practising self-awareness focusing fully on “now” and accepting your inner state without disapproval.
What is self-awareness and why it is important
Various schools of religion and phycology interpret self-awareness in their own way. The roots of self-awareness as a concept lie deep within Buddhism. Also, this state of mind was recently described and investigated in scientific research. On the whole, self-awareness is a way of addressing your feelings, emotions, reaction, thoughts, motives, habits, behaviour, positive and negative experience, and analysing them without being judgmental. It allows a person to decide what he would like to change in his life and which aspects he just needs to accept. He is learning to live every moment of his life and enjoy it in full. At a higher stage of self-development awareness allows you to control all life processes, both physical and spiritual. The person that is completely self-aware is capable of observing himself from the side and evaluating his feelings and behaviour without emotional sub-context and disapproval.
Those people who chose conscious living aim to truly see themselves and the world around the way they are. Alongside, they intend to reject the obtruded values, conventionality, possessions, phantoms and hypocrisy.
The positive effects of practising self-awareness and mindfulness through meditation and relaxation have been supported by thousands of studies, including:
- Specific Transcriptome Changes Associated With Blood Pressure Reduction in Hypertensive Patients After Relaxation Response Training;
- Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as an Adjunct Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Young Adults: A Literature Review;
- Phenomenological fingerprints of four meditations: Differential state changes in affect, mind-wandering, meta-cognition and interoception before and after daily practice across nine months of training;
- Mindfulness during romantic conflict moderates the impact of negative partner behaviours on cortisol responses;
- Debiasing the Mind Through Meditation: Mindfulness and the Sunk-Cost Bias etc.
The benefits of conscious living
1. Inner balance and harmony with the world outside. Conscious control over your emotions and adequate attitude towards yourself and the others allows you to find long-awaited inner peace.
2. Improvement of mental and physical health. The right way of thinking leads to a conscious attitude towards your body. Listening to what your body really needs gives you the tools to improve your health: get rid of stress, reduce high blood pressure and chronic pains, improve your sleep pattern, and manage digestive problems, etc.
4. Discovering your true potential. Revealing your true desires and thoughts and separating them from the ones that were imposed by society allows you to unleash the unique talents of yours, and gives you the freedom to be who you are.
5. Life quality improvement. Mindfulness leads to conscious actions and appreciation of every moment of your life. It helps you to enjoy life fully and find beauty in simple things.
6. Extra energy. Living in present deprives you of racing thoughts about the past and the anxiety about the future, which releases a large amount of extra energy for current plans and actions.
Overall, mindfulness and self-awareness release you from all types of mental junk — negative beliefs, destructive stereotypes and patterns, phobias, meaningless introspection, addictions and possessions. Self-awareness allows you to satisfy the basic needs, boosts your self-development, and brings joy to your life. It allows you to unleash the true potential of yours and successfully interact with other people.
Interesting to read: Everyday motivational affirmations - what are those and why are they needed
Types of self-awareness
There are several types of self-awareness, and each of them discloses a different aspect of life helping you to find your place in the world and understand yourself better.
- Mental awareness. Helps to answer the question of meaning of life. (Where and why are we going?)
- Emotional awareness. Determines the perceptions of oneself and others, and shapes the emotional background. Helps to establish the value system and find reference points.
- Physical awareness. Teaches to notice and understand the needs of the body. Helps to become more aware of your own and other’s gestures, facial expressions, manner of speech, etc.
- Behavioural awareness. Helps to form the correct self-positioning in society, find your comfort in interacting with people, and makes you aware of your social role.
- Intellectual awareness. Includes monitoring of mental activity, constant aspirations for development and acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Exercises to practise self-awareness
To improve all types of awareness it is necessary to constantly develop yourself. It is very important to learn how to listen to your inner voice and adequately perceive reality.
1. Practise meditation and conscious relaxation. It is necessary to do such exercises at least twice a day, after waking up and before going to bed. These practices help to clear your mind and get rid of negative thoughts. It is slow deep breathing techniques that are extremely helpful.
2. Observe your thoughts. Perceive the discussion in your head as a monologue from a third person. Imagine thoughts are the clouds that come and go. Don’t hold onto the words and don’t fixate on them.
3. Learn to let go of negative experience in life. It is important to know how to abstract your mind from impolite and grumpy people in the shops and transport, and arguments that may happen at work. Do not let it disturb you.
4. Write a diary and keep notes of all the observations, occasions and emotional experiences you are going through. Many famous people kept a diary which, back in the days, helped them to understand themselves and their role in society better. Their notes nowadays is an incredibly valuable source of information for our generation.
5. Be empathetic. Empathy towards other people twists your perception of life and disclose new beautiful aspects of it. By understanding what other people feel and building analogies with your own emotions you are learning new things about yourself.
6. Distantiate from toxic people. Our surrounding affects us, and it is necessary to understand if the person you are talking to resonates with your values, or not. Try to consciously choose your surrounding and spend more time with nice people.
7. Find your personal power source — a place or a thing that inspires you. The place can be either inside of your own house, somewhere outside of the city or even in another country. The most important is so that nobody can disturb you there and you can spend some time on your own doing things you love.
8. Take a break. There is no need to overthink about the things that happened in the past and things that haven’t happened yet. Allow yourself to let go of the past and future, and enjoy the present moment. Sometimes it is important to let yourself just do nothing and relax.
9. Observe simple things around you. People who live in big cities often completely loose connections with nature. That’s why it is important to notice such simple things as the sky and the clouds or even your cat. Connecting with nature reminds us that we are the part of it too.
10. Try new things. It can be either a new dish in a restaurant during lunch or a trip to an unusual location. By focusing on new impressions and plunging into them your mind reloads and becomes completely laid-back.
Powerful exercises to improve self-awareness
If you are interested in developing your self-awareness through meditations, here are two exercises that you can do by yourself.
Exercise 1. Mindfulness meditation
- sit on the chair with your back straight and cross your legs;
- focus on your breath, feel the air floating through your nose towards your lower belly, your belly should rise when you breathe in and go down when you breath out;
- when you are focused, let yourself notice what is happening outside and hear the faraway noses, listen to yourself and your thoughts;
- let all the thoughts that appear in your mind come and go without any emotions. If you lost the focus repeat the steps from the beginning.
Exercise 2. Stay in present
- find a quiet spot and pay attention to your body;
- breath in through the nose, let the air pass towards your lower belly, breathe out through the mouth;
- focus on the feelings in the present moment;
- merge the feelings in your body with what you see, hear and feel on your skin;
- when you feel fulfilled, carefully bring back your attention to where you are and finish the meditation.
A new way of improving self-awareness
Most of the self-awareness exercises don’t require any additional tools like candles, essences and mantras. However, there exist new technologies that can boost the effectiveness of such exercise. For example, you can practise self-awareness while sleeping using Hypnopedia app. Its main advantage is that thanks to the unique program algorithm the app determines the most favourable stage of sleep and reads out short motivational expressions (affirmations). While the app user is sleeping his subconscious mind perceives the affirmations that continue to work even after awakening.Ссылка App Store
Affirmations work around the critical thinking that is usually the biggest source of doubts about yourself and the world around. For this reason, if you are practising self-awareness it is necessary to learn how to avoid critical thinking. Hypnopedia gives you such an opportunity thanks to the affirmations that you can listen to during your daily meditation. It as well includes a collection of ASMR sounds that help to distantiate from the problems and plunge into yourself. Just choose the sound or a playlist you like the most and start your journey.
In any case, you have to remember that developing self-awareness is a long process of improving yourself and finding a balance with the outside world. If you feel like you can’t do it on your own and need extra help you can simply register for a workshop or read the corresponding literature. In the long run, your success depends only on how big is your desire to become more calm, balanced and self-aware.