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There are 30 trillion cells in the human body, more than 60,000 miles of blood vessels, 88,000 chakras, and 72,000 nadis. And that's just the beginning.
Awareness is a funny thing. Usually, until something is brought to your attention, you do not realize it exists, is important, or needs to be changed. When I first started a formal yoga practice over ten years ago (I’m pretty sure my shoulder stands in my living room at age eight were a sign yoga was in my future), I had no clue what awareness was. Growing up I was told to pay attention, but I don’t think I really knew what actual awareness was.
What is awareness?
What does it mean? Is it necessary to live? Is it something you must cultivate or does someone teach awareness to you? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary says that awareness means having knowledge of something. To be aware implies vigilance in observation or alertness in drawing inferences from what one experiences.
Sure, we can watch ourselves walk so we don’t trip and fall, or learn not to say naughty words, and chew with our mouth closed rather than open like a cow. But is this what awareness really means, or are these things more like skills we are taught to function in society? What should our basic education include in order for us to be a part of the social human existence?
That initial yoga practice I spoke of was very informal -- at a gym, to be exact -- and at that time in my life I was searching for healing, help, and anything to help me understand why I was struggling, why I was different, and why life (and the universe) were laying such a heavy load on my shoulders.
Awareness. Without awareness we keep doing what we are doing; without awareness we keep living the same way we are living. Without awareness we keep the same life patterns, routines, and people in our lives, for sometimes we consciously choose to be ignorant rather than aware; because once we are aware of something, we can no longer pretend or make the choices we are making in honesty.
I look back at my life, as we all do at times, and at one point in my journey I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong. I thought I didn’t have a problem, and heck, life was grand. I look back and I was given thousands of opportunities before I realized I had a problem and needed to get help, that what I was doing to my body and myself -- and yes, even the people around me -- was crippling, and could very well have taken my life. Maybe I wasn’t ready, but for me it was a cultivated awareness that allowed me to heal, to rise above, to recover fully. We have to choose to be aware once awareness is present.
So I ask the question: Can you teach someone awareness? Can you teach someone to be more aware? Unless the person is ready and wants to receive it, I don’t know. Our initial reaction to awareness is usually resistance. What I have found is that awareness’ pre-party usually includes defense, victimization, fear, and ego. Because we find this current way of life easier, more comfortable -- heck, we may even like feeling fearful since it is all we know -- we choose to say unaware. I was bitter and angry towards those who pointed out the flaws and issues I was working on (although at the time I did not know I was working on them, or that life was working on me). I had family members telling me all the time (sorry Mom, I was so rude to you), "Hope you need to stop acting this way." I was too proud and ignorant and ego stricken (it was a fear defense mechanism) to want to hear what she had to say, and I didn’t want to really face what I had to change or acknowledge. So I chose to stay the same and reject awareness.
I have learned though life to see all that comes to me as a way for me to be more aware. My husband pointing out what I said, did or did not do, a comment on a blog about a spelling error, even noticing my own feelings towards someone or something someone said or didn’t say, are all actions and opportunities towards awareness. It’s something I pray for, I ask for. Awareness is not a burden; it should be a gift. How can you change something you don’t know exists?
How can I improve myself as a wife, mother, business owner, yoga teacher, friend, sister, daughter and student of life if I’m not cultivating awareness? And not just in the great stuff, but in the yucky stuff too, the stuff you would rather not know exists. Does life keep telling you that you change your perception on someone or something, or that maybe the reason you aren’t getting the job you want is because that job isn’t right for you, or what you desire is waiting for you, but you need to clean up your act?
Life is never punishing us; it is always on our side, but are we truly on our own side? Who benefits when we get defensive? Who benefits when we block out a lesson to be learned. Who benefits when we won’t admit when we are wrong, or learn to be more flexible or just simply learn to listen more and talk less?
My hope for you today is that you simply become more aware. Aware that your body is amazing all the things that it does without us knowing or needing to pay attention to, but once we become more aware, more mindful, we can slow down and appreciate all these wonderful things. Appreciate all the wonderful opportunities, people and experiences that have come into our lives.
Awareness = Appreciation = A Better Quality Life!