Keep Your Mind Where Your Body Is: Practice Daily Exercises to Achieve Awareness
Copyright 2006 Tom Russell
Awareness is unity with the present moment. Being fully aware brings together your spirit, mind, emotions, and body. And awareness is inherently expansive; it grows whenever you grant it the opportunity. Therefore, awareness is dynamic and constantly probing the edges.
Keeping your mind where your body is–being fully aware–is a noble and sane way to live! J. Krishnamurti told a story about a man who came to see him to discuss his problems. A beautiful butterfly flew into the room and circled several times. The visitor was so self-absorbed that he never saw the butterfly. This tells us that, in the absence of awareness, self-absorption can run rampant. People often refuse to see this simple truth: happiness, wisdom, and vitality can be as simple as the present moment. Awareness is the key to knowing this simple truth.
Methods to develop awareness in your daily life
Awareness is your power to live in the now–the connecting point of God/truth/reality and the doorway to a rich and purpose-filled life. Vernon Howard defines awareness as having your mind present with your body during the activities of daily life.
So how do you develop awareness? There are many ways! Weave the following exercises into your day to help you achieve awareness. Each exercise can expand into all areas of your life. Think of it as working a garden. You may only till the surface on the first day, but as you tend the garden daily over time–planting seeds, watering, and weeding–eventually it will flourish.
A ringing phone can be your wake-up call
When the phone rings, let it be a signal to wake up. Be aware of yourself walking toward the phone and lifting the receiver. Notice any anxiety or expectation. Be alert to the tone of your voice as you say “hello.” Don’t expect anything in the phone call to fulfill you. Let the experience remain pure. Remember that awareness is always strong, poised and intelligent. Awareness knows what to say and how to act.
Enjoy “fine” dining
The exercise of conscious dining sounds simple, but there is far more to this than appears on the surface. Don’t let your mind be carried away by daydreams that want to use breakfast, lunch, or dinner as a time to escape. Stay awake during your entire dining experience. Be aware as you lift your fork from the table. Taste the food. Use this experience as an opportunity to discover your rich and purpose-filled life.
Turn off auto-pilot and tune into the moment
Even a routine drive can provide an opportunity for a completely new experience. Feel your hands on the wheel. Have interest and affection for what’s happening right now. Roll down the window and smell the air. Take a fresh, new look at the sights along your way. Your commute to work may never be the same!
Remind yourself to “Wake Up Now”
Write the letters WUN–Wake Up Now–on a piece of paper and post it in your home or office. Let these letters remind you to drop all racing thoughts, come back to yourself, and suddenly be awake and aware.
Walking with awareness wakes up your mind and body
Walking is even more energizing when accompanied by awareness. Feel the air on your face, see the colors come alive, and feel the weight on your feet. As you become aware, you’ll bring together your spirit, mind, emotions, and body.
Do mechanical work consciously
A spark of awareness can be present when you’re doing daily work, conversing with others, making plans, or enjoying recreation. Vernon Howard explained this perfectly in his book Esoteric Mind Power:
“Mechanical work supplies the visible rewards of food and other daily necessities. Mechanical work, whether that of a carpenter or a professor, is work done without an aim of self-awakening. Conscious work provides the invisible rewards of self-harmony and other spiritual necessities.
“Conscious work, whether that of a carpenter or a professor, is work performed while using it for inner dawning.
“You can do mechanical work without receiving payment, but you can never do conscious work without payment, though at times it may seem delayed. You can learn to do mechanical work consciously, and when succeeding, you have overcome the world.”
Awareness makes you more capable in whatever task you undertake. It infuses a mother with tenderness while caring for her children. It lifts the business executive to new levels of effectiveness. The carpenter works with greater efficiency and skill. Awareness enhances a salesperson’s ability to communicate. Whatever your work, these principles work wonders. You can transform your daily life when you discover how to do mechanical work consciously.
Being aware keeps you in the oasis of the present moment
I attended a large public lecture by Vernon Howard in 1982. At the end of his talk, he gave the audience this assignment: “Know you are walking through the doorway as you leave the hall.” I walked out of the hall without being aware. Then, remembering that I forgotten to be aware, I paused by the doorway to observe others as they departed. It was clear that they weren’t being aware as they were walked through the door, just as I hadn’t been aware. Their attention was elsewhere. That day, I understood how advanced these exercises are, in spite of how simple they appear to be.
These awareness exercises help us see when we’ve drifted away from the oasis of the present moment. Regard this detection as a cool drink of water that enhances your life.