The Art of Mindful Awareness: Becoming Your Best

Art of Mindful AwarenessIt’s easy to miss the art of mindful awareness.

Most people react to microaggressions or microinequities as a personal insult. But when you recognize the limits and fallibility of human-nature, compassion arises, and you are less likely to create more pain and suffering.  

The art of mindful awareness means you are more present to what is actually going on at a deeper level.

People are nastier than ever. The curt, snarky retort you get from a friend or coworker may be directed at you only in appearance. If the lights are on, you expect someone is home, but that assessment may be expecting too much.

Researchers have discovered that 47% of the time, we are checked-out, away, or not present.’ By nature, we are in a constant state of mind-wandering that makes us unhappy and ineffective.  This is in direct contrast to incisive self-regulation and the belief that we know what makes us unhappy. You could say we spend our days responding from a place of disconnect.

This is why mindfulness has become a buzzword and is widely known as a fast-track to a better self. 

Benefits

The benefits of being mindful are increased presence, improved focus, and more insightful responses. Your attention is on what’s in front of you, not wandering around somewhere else.

When you pare it down to basics, mindfulness is the ability to cultivate connections with our mind, body, and spirit—using the whole (integrated) self for authentic contribution—in a word, being mindful means being aware.

In his bookFalling Awake, Jon Kabat-Zinn describes awareness as “the innate human capacity that we hardly pay attention to. We don’t need to acquire it. We only need to develop access and familiarize ourselves with this capacity, this dimension, which is more ‘you’ and more useful than any other training or practical skill.” With awareness, rather than distracted and someplace else, we are awake, here, now.

The art of mindful awareness means you recognize the tremendous pull on your attention to be elsewhere, somewhere more appealing than where you are. You appreciate William James’s dictum, “The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is at the very root of judgment, character, and will.” It’s the quality of your mindful best self.

We can all be more mindful and aware

Mindful people know that awareness is more than a technique. It’s a way of being in the world. You don’t go off somewhere, sit, concentrate, and bring a new skill back to the office. In real-time, you shift your attention from a passive wandering state to active, engaged awareness.

For example, let’s say Rob, a team member, is in the first meeting after hearing he didn’t get the promotion he wanted. He is talking over others, pounding the table, and spewing toxicity. Being a mindful colleague, you will pause and become aware of what you are experiencing, the thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Pausing creates a space between your experience and your reaction to it. That space is where you choose how to respond rather than reacting automatically from a wandering, distracted state.

Rather than react in knee-jerk fashion, you notice the tension you feel, the pull to respond in-kind. In that moment of awareness, you shift from actor to observer and respond to Rob intelligently, with clarity, rather than react wildly.

If you are a manager or a supervisor, mindful awareness is critical to your work.

The good news is you can train your psyche to be wide awake, mindful and fully aware in the middle of the confusion, uncertainty, and distraction that is so prevalent today.

Here are some tips for practicing the art of mindful awareness

*Start your day off with attention to what you feel when you first wake up. We release the most stress hormones upon waking because our mind is quickly consumed by the day ahead. Spend two or three minutes after you wake up lying in bed, being aware of yourself. Are you anxious? Is your mind racing? Breathe, let go and relax. Notice the voices in your head and let them go too. Don’t judge, interpret, or label. Just notice. Ease out of bed and into your routine.

*If you commute, use the drive or the ride to increase your awareness as you sit. Notice what you are feeling. Notice the trees. Are they bare or leafed out? We’ve all arrived at work at times, not quite remembering how we got there. That’s mind wandering. We were on autopilot! Stay awake and aware. Notice the activity at the convenience store. What are the people doing? There is always something going on. If we quiet our thoughts, mindful awareness will arise almost automatically.

*When your commute ends, walk deliberately from where you park or get off your ride to your office. Feel every step. Notice the weather, the people, the tiny plant boring its way upward through the walkway. Take your attention inside and prepare for greetings at the door.

*At your desk, relax, and breathe. Become aware of your internal state. Feel what it’s like to have full attention on you. Compose yourself for the day ahead.

*In your daily activities and when people come to you with needs, notice where your attention is. Pause, we aren’t as good at slowing down as we are at getting pumped up. When you slow down intending to increase awareness, you’ll begin to pick up on nuances, such as where your attention is, the underlying energy — your own, and you’ll pick up on the root cause of the judgments, comments, and complaints of others.

*At lunchtime, take a ’10-minute mindful moment’ break to boost your energy with a short awareness practice. Check-in and ask yourself, “have I responded like the person I want to be? What have I done well today? What could I do differently next time to ensure I am on the path to mastering my awareness?”

*Repeat the awareness practice for your commute home.

Using each moment of every day to bring awareness to activity, you’ll become a more realized version of yourself.

As you reflect on how much more alive, present, and authentic you are, you’ll wonder where your awareness has been all this time.

 

This article first appeared on Medium

 

 

 

© Brian Braudis 2020, All rights reserved

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