Awareness --> Attention --> What We Make Meaning About --> Which Actions We Can Choose From --> Which Actions We Take
Honing our Awareness is a key step in developing as a person, a leader, or a change agent. Every couple of weeks, I share some simple Awareness practices that I have tried and benefited from.
This first very simple practice simply requires these two questions:
- What are you aware of?
- What are you not aware of? (intentionally or unintentionally)
and a journal*. Yes. Writing the answer to these questions is a very different experience than simply 'Thinking About Them'.
So find a quiet spot, get a coffee or a tea and pen and paper and write for 5 minutes in answer to each question. Do this every morning you can for a couple of weeks, and see what begins to emerge or gets clearer, what questions arise, how you start expanding your awareness of a result. And what subtleshifts may begin to take place over time.
Sometimes the experience will feel challenging. Sometimes the words will flow. There is little value in getting yourself stuck in judging the experience of writing as 'good' or 'bad' or 'hard' or 'easy', but really noticing its nuances as you would shifts in the weather will be useful to you. Trust me. It is in these small disciplines that the seeds of change can begin to be planted. Try it out for 14 days. See what shows up. Live the questions as an exploration. #acornrealityofoak
*For those who are skeptical about the journaling part, here is a recent article outlining the practice and the benefits: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/08/a-beginners-guide-to-keeping-a-journal.html
Journaling is not some dusty practice of Victorian ladies, but a transformational technology available to you to support your personal growth and development. We sometimes think that 'thinking about things' is the way to go. But writing, actual old fashioned writing on paper activates different parts of ourselves and leads to deeper reflection, insights and preparation for action. So journal your answer to these two questions for at least 10 minutes twice a day for a week (once in the morning and once in the afternoon), and at the end of the experiment find someone to talk about your insights from the process. What patterns of thought, behavior, mindset did you discover? what new awareness has emerged? how did your answers raise more questions worthy of your attention? how did it give you answers you hadn't been seeking?
If you want to read more about the power of journaling see: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/08/a-beginners-guide-to-keeping-a-journal.html
And here are some helpful guidelines by poet Mark Nepo on journaling "as a canvas for our thoughts and feelings, a canvas for how things fit, for how we fit, for how we re-find Unity...Journaling is how we sketch truth with our heart". From his introduction to this latest book available through my library on Amazon: Things that Join the Sea and the Sky
Mark Nepo's guidelines for Journaling:
- When journaling, try not to select what to write about, but to open your heart and mind. Meditate on the question in silence for a minute or two and see what wants your heart's attention.
- Do not censor your writing. This is for you. It's more important that you be honest with yourself than hold back because someone else might see it.
- Allow form to follow content. Don't worry about organization or making sense, or even if you write in full sentences. Let your heart and deeper mind be your guide.
- Afterward, if it feels right, you can bring what you've uncovered into conversation with a loved one or trusted friend. If you're not comfortable sharing in this way, you can email a friend. It's also fine to experience these reflective moments in solitude.