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Updated: Aug 24, 2022

Awareness... the first of the two parts of mindfulness.

Mindfulness can be defined as a practice that provides a particular way of experiencing life that involves paying attention on purpose and with compassion. Awareness and compassion together. Each one of you has already experienced a mindful moment. If you think back to when you first met your child, a first encounter with your beloved, a quiet moment in nature where your senses felt alive and fully open... These are all moments of awareness - a really clear sense of experiencing with focus.

With practice, awareness helps you encounter the moments of life with such openness, curiosity and heart that you can't help but engage fully. Most of us tend to think we move through life with awareness. It can be particularly difficult to recognize the trance of living on autopilot… when you’re stuck on autopilot.

Some examples of a lack of awareness:

You're experiencing one thing and thinking about something else

Your thoughts center on future or past events

You say things you did not intend to say

You go through a whole day not noticing your body

You believe every thought that occurs

You get stuck in judging while listening to others

Any of that sound familiar? It is natural to experience life in this way and we default to autopilot modes of behavior and judging ourselves and others for many reasons. In mindfulness, those reasons are less important than how to operate with more awareness and compassion. When mindfulness is a part of how we live our lives, the opportunity for joy, gratitude, clarity and wisdom grow. Our connection with life intensifies - everything feels a bit more colorful.

There are many options for beginning to build the muscle of awareness. Many of my clients find that it helps to meditate in a group at a scheduled time. Others want the accompaniment of personalized coaching to combine awareness and the changes they want to see in their lives. Some people listen to guided meditations, others pause and breathe deeply throughout their day. Whatever your entry point is into developing more awareness in your life, practicing regularly is the best way to develop this habit.

This week practice setting an intention for experiencing awareness at least once a day. Maybe this is in formal meditation or maybe it looks different. For instance, try drinking your coffee each day with presence. This could look like sitting down to drink the coffee and allowing all of your senses to take in the aroma, the heat, the taste. This would involve focusing any thoughts you're having on the experience of sitting and drinking your coffee. A mindful coffee break means you know you're aware of what it is like to drink your coffee. And that you value this moment enough to pay attention to it.

Stay tuned for next week's blog about grace - the tender, compassionate side of mindfulness.

Check out a simple 5-minute guided meditation for beginners: The ABCs of Mindfulness

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