Awareness is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s about noticing things much deeper than the surface where we like to tread for internal answers. Here I present six further, somewhat challenging, exercises to help you foster more awareness.
6. Quit all news sources for a week. Watch the urges. Ask yourself why it’s so important to you.
There is a such thing as too much news. When we become so fixated on being right up on all the newest bits of news (any news), does this really add to the quality of your life? The time spent on gathering up all the latest on current events detracts from your ability to create the life you really want. Does having that kind of upkeep really do anything for you? Nearly everyone I speak to always laments about how they don’t have time for their goals. For meditation. For exercise. And they want more time. But there you are, CNN (or whatever channel you watch) on in the background, CNN up on your browser, in your Facebook feed (along with other news sources.
The average American spends 70 minutes per day on news sources.
That’s one hour and ten minutes. Per day. And that means to create the average, there are people out there spending more time than that. I barely touch it. So that means someone out there is taking up my 70 minutes.
What could you do–what would you rather do with that time?
Truthfully, if it’s important, and if you really need to know something, it will eventually filter down to you. The more aware you become of how you really spend your time, the more slots will open up for you to work on your goals.
5. Try not to notice black objects in your surroundings. Now do the same for red. What happened?
DON’T NOTICE ANY BLACK OBJECTS. DON’T!
You noticed more black and more red? Why is this
Well, two reasons. For one, when you focus on what you don’t want (to see), your brain must first become aware of it in order to filter it out. Also, your brain essentially skips over the word “don’t”, thereby giving the command of “NOTICE ANY BLACK OBJECTS.”
When you are focused on what you don’t want in your life, you will continue to have/create that for the same reason. Your brain will filter things so that you continually create the same results. Telling yourself “I don’t want anxiety” or “I don’t want to be overweight” is the polar opposite of telling yourself “I want peace and confidence” and “I want to have a healthy weight.”
4.Remember a wrong you’ve done. Release any shame. You’re human.
Because you’re human, you’re going to step on toes. Sometimes smash them. No, it isn’t fun. And it’s terribly embarrassing. But all humans at some time (inadvertently) wrong someone. Yes, there are people who bungle through life doing this consistently. Those people are not aware. They’re very unaware. If you choose to live consciously instead of unconsciously, you greatly lessen the possibility of stepping on toes. And then, when you do, you have the grace to apologize (with the understanding that there are people out there who go about life looking for ways to have their toes stepped on; not all instances are necessarily cased by something you did.)
3. Pretend you are all things compassion. Now sit down and embrace something about yourself that hurts.
When you do this, you are opening yourself to grace. Think of how that word makes you feel; wouldn’t you like more of that in your life? The biggest resource drain for it is how we speak to and treat ourselves. We try to bully ourselves into change. But it doesn’t work. It never works. Yet we put ourselves down, we criticize ourselves and we try to coerce ourselves into changing.
For this exercise, it doesn’t have to be an aspect of your personality that you would like to change. It can be a part of you that’s still bruised from an old hurt. Embrace it. Let it understand that it’s safe now. That the past is the past, as you keep hearing, and that you are now in a place to give that part of you what it did not get the first time around.
2. Pretend you are all things compassion. Now sit down and embrace someone who galls you.
This is so you can become aware of how you (snap) judge people. It’s absolutely all right to dislike someone. But keep in mind that in their world, they may be doing things wholly correctly in their culture. Be wary of lumping all people of a certain culture into one definition. (Do you like it when someone lumps you into their idea of what “everyone” must be like from your culture? If your answer is no, then don’t do it for someone else.)
There are people in this world I don’t like. But I also have compassion for them. Why? Because their life and their choices are not mine. Even if they directly impact me, it’s my choice to forgive–because they may not be aware of what they’re doing. Or maybe they are, but in their minds it’s a right action. They still have children and families they love dearly, which means they, too, mourn when they have losses. This could be a co-worker or a neighbor. A family member. Someone from another country. Having compassion and empathy is not having pity.
And, as a side part to this exercise, consider that forgiveness is not about saying that what someone else did. It means you setting down the weight of something that’s actually their burden to carry. As Jesus wisely said (and if you are not religious, these are still wise words), “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24.)
Again, you can still dislike someone. But hatred denies someone their humanity, even though it may be incredibly flawed. It’s also something that does nothing positive to change the world and only serves to drain you of your humanity. Hatred, as the Emperor said in The Empire Strikes Back, leads to the dark side of the Force.
Fantasy movie or no, it’s true. Is that where you want to stand in life?
1. Sit down and then write down everything you remember about another room in your house or apartment. Wallpaper, exact placing of objects. Then compare.
Now for something on the lighter side of things. This is a little exercise to see how well you can remember something you think is incredibly familiar. Write it all down, then go in and see what you got right and what you got wrong. What did you discover?
Perry Mason did this in an episode of the television show of the same name. What he knew is that memory is flawed (any police officer will tell you this; eye witness accounts are rarely the same), and he showed this to one of the witnesses on the stand. “Does your wall paper pattern go left to right, or up and down?” Perry asked. The man thought a moment and then, with certainty, “Left to right.”
Perry then pulled out a photo of the man’s apartment, and much to the witness’s surprise, the pattern went up and down.
What you think you know may actually sit outside of your awareness.
Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.