4 simple practices to cultivate more awareness
Cultivate more awareness in your day-to-day life with these four easy practices. By Madeleine Arena
Awareness is power. It’s the key to having a good relationship with yourself, with others, and the world around you
Without awareness, you’re fumbling around in the dark, blindly reacting to events and circumstances as they come upon you – which quickly becomes an exhausting way to live.
When moving with awareness, you are able to create space between yourself and your experience. It gives you perspective, allowing you to make reflected, intentional decisions that support your wellbeing and self-realisation. It empowers you to know which actions, decisions and changes to make when things feel misaligned.
Of course, it’s not quite as easy as simply deciding to just be aware from now on. Rather, it’s a practice that needs to be cultivated. But how?
The teachings of yoga tell us that one of the best ways we can begin to do that is by engaging in practices that encourage mindfulness and presence – because it’s in these states that we can create perspective and space, and with that, awareness.
With time, I have discovered four simple practices that I personally really enjoy, and that have helped me cultivate more awareness in my own life – maybe one or two (or all!) of them will serve you, too.
As you move through them, please remember that you are always free to take what you need and leave wha doesn’t resonate with you – the scriptures themselves remind us that there are as many different methods and paths as there are people, and ultimately it’s about finding what works for you.
Here’s what works for me:
I love to journal, and over time it has become one of my most faithful and powerful practices. Sadly, I’ve met a lot of people who feel like ‘it’s not for them’, because they feel their writing is not ‘good enough’. It’s so important to understand that journaling is never about the quality of the writing, and only about bringing what’s going on in your mind into your conscious awareness. It helps to ‘unload’ the mind, so that you don’t have a million thoughts swirling around when you’re trying to find presence, and perspective.
It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, either: when I first started, I didn’t journal every day – sometimes not even every week! I gave myself the grace to come back to my journal when I felt called, and leave it when I didn’t. With that compassion and without the pressure to perform, I was able to build a consistent practice that now serves me greatly – which, by the way, goes for every practice on this list, and in life.
2. (Daily) Gratitude List
Not only does connecting to gratitude help bring you into a more positive mindset with regards to your life in general, but it also helps cultivate awareness. Because you are taking the time to pause and reflect on what’s working and what you’re currently grateful for, you are automatically coming into a more aware and mindful state of being just by asking yourself those questions.
3. Yoga Asana
How you engage with and relate to your physical yoga practice often mirrors how you engage with life itself. In that way, the mat is a wonderful place to begin to know yourself better, and to put those learnings into practice. It can open your eyes to how you deal with perceived failures, help you find joy in the process rather than just the result, and enable you to become aware of and honour your fluctuating needs. Practicing yoga asanas can calm your mental chatter, create internal space, and encourage presence – which as you now know, are all excellent tools for cultivating more awareness.
Similarly to asanas, the breath is a wonderful anchor to come into the present moment, and with that a more aware and mindful state of being. Instead of being caught up in your thoughts and mind, the idea is to take even just a few moments to breathe consciously, and create space between you and your experience (perspective!). Coming into a state of meditation has the same effect, but can be much more challenging to achieve. If concentrating on your own feels challenging for you, a guided meditation might be just what you need.
Reflection prompts: What are some of the ways you cultivate mindful awareness? Did any of my suggestions resonate in particular? If so, why?