Intentional Awareness

“Don’t always believe everything you think.” ~ John Fulton

Here are some modern maxims: You are what you eat. You are what you wear. You are what you do. You are what you think. Do you believe any of them? Especially the last one? If your thoughts are like mine, they’re always changing and sometimes have little to do with things that I’m actually doing or want to do. Quite often, thoughts can distract and sometimes capture our attention to the exclusion of all else.

In awareness practice, we become more aware of what’s going on within us and around us by choosing where to place our attention. We can choose to place our attention on our thoughts, or on our breath or our body. We can choose to just notice our thoughts without being them; without having to believe them, judge them, or take action on them. Then we are free to choose how we respond to life.

Awareness can be considered as a simple system which produces clarity around your emotions, thoughts, and feelings, and gives you more choices.

Taking this a step further, awareness can be heightened when coupled with intent. We tend to associate intent with complicated actions that require our full attention and effort to succeed. For example, walking a tightrope, taking a test, or taking a vow are all tasks that require us to be fully present and single-minded. Intent has the power to transform seemingly mundane tasks into significant experiences.

In today’s world, however, we are doing one thing and thinking of something else, or even doing three things at the same time. There is nothing wrong with multi-tasking, which is necessary at times. However, balancing this with doses of intentional activity can provide valuable insight into the benefits of focusing on one thing at a time; being fully present with whatever invites your awareness.

You can apply intent to any situation by simply saying, “I am aware that I am now awake” or “I am aware that I am driving to work” or “I am aware that I am preparing dinner” or “I am aware that I am breathing.” As you acknowledge what you are doing in any given moment, you own your actions instead of habitually performing them. And in owning your actions, you realize how often you act without intention and how this disengages you from reality. Imagine what would happen if you were intentionally aware every moment of every day?

As you intentionally focus, here are three ways to be more aware:

  • Filter your thoughts through multiple lenses. Ask (for example), How would Einstein think? How would God think? How would my father think? This dialogue helps to broaden your perceptions, and open your own views on life and situations.
  • Observe new things. We have so many habits and routines we become oblivious. Start by noticing everything you do with a new consciousness. Begin slowly and build upon this capacity.
  • Take an honest look at yourself. Assess your strengths and weaknesses to gain knowledge and increase performance. An honest self-assessment allows you to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you. This will help you excel at building and maintaining relationships, listening, and relating to others.

31 thoughts on “Intentional Awareness

  1. There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors. ― Tennessee Williams
    Great post!

    • An apt Williams reference, Dugutigui. Thanks for commenting and sharing it. What I find encouraging in my work, reading, and research is that more and more people are choosing the see it and accept it. πŸ™‚

      • I like your posts because your words: get going, move forward, yes we can (sorry Obama), aim high, plan a takeoff, etc., are always positive, which means to me your thoughts β€”and probably your behaviorβ€” are also positive and this is a good diet for a spiritual and emotional one.
        My problem is I’m a rotten apple, possibly the opposite of you, and I know people always need to find things to do while waiting to die, so they just blindly grabbed at whatever there is.
        In brief. I find fascinating people absolutely positive, but I’m still with the Cynics, the Saints or the insomniacs who I believe can see clearly, because they have gone beyond the shadows of the mind, just as civilization is deriving from logic to epilepsy.
        Nobody can cure the evil of being born, capital plague if there is one, and we accept life and endure all its trials only because we hope to heal someday. Years pass, the sore remains, and the joke finally ends, so it is hard for me to take humanity too seriously. If the cave-man had known how to laugh, history would have probably been different.

      • I’m smiling because I periodically refer to myself as “cave man.” I hear you. And I respect your self-views. I also believe I’m reading the words from someone who has left open – maybe just a crack – the possibility that you could shift or change some of your views. What I cannot sense is what it would take or what might be the catalyst to effect such shift. You’re a bright guy and you communicate well. This curious mind wonders from where the skepticism emanates…

    • If not on the judgment day, then sooner. It is so much easier to live authentically, in integrity, and with character. Truths are foundational to this. Thank you, Donna, for your succinct share.

    • As an aggregator, what I am able (and choose) to share with you and others is a blend of reading, research, others words, and my own thoughts and experiences. It the message(s) strikes a chord and prompts some thinking (or action) on your part, then to me, we have a win-win. πŸ™‚ Appreciate your kind comment.

  2. Self awareness is very important. Most people, I have seen, they know everything about everybody but nothing about themselves. Or that’s how they act.

    No use knowing about the great individuals in the world if we cannot afford to spend time to know about our own selves.

    • Thanks, Ravite! Your words remind me of another’s which paraphrased go something like: If we don’t like spending time with ourselves, how can we expect others to want to share in our company?

  3. But would you not agree that the mind is wired so that we can perform certain tasks without conscious thought or attention? If not (and in answer to your question: “Imagine what would happen if you were intentionally aware every moment of every day?”), I would be exhausted. I find it similar to the time I spent in France, learning the language: I was completely exhausted at the end of the day, and would sleep for 10-12 hours. I assumed that the whole process took so much active attention (if that is not redundant), that it over-worked my mind.

    Does that make sense?

    • It makes clear sense to me! Without our brains being “wired” to multi-task, we could well lapse into a paleolithic bog – at least given the ever-increasing pace of our digital/technological world. My “imagine if” inference (as you quote above), given further thought, was extreme. Present reflection, prompted by your kind question, would have me rephrase the hypothetical to something more manageable. Every moment of every day would likely contribute to a sizable increase of cardiac episodes or stimuli overload. πŸ™‚ I am simultaneously smiling and appreciating your observation. Thanks, Jeff, for calling it into question.

  4. I like this post. This practice is like a moving meditation. Once you become good at meditative practices they can be applied to active life as well. When I read A Course in Miracles, one of the lessons was meant to deprogram our perceptions to allow for new understanding, for this lesson one is required to spend several minutes of each day observing some familiar objects while stating that they are not as they seem, ie, “this is not a tree. I dont know what this is.” The purpose is to break down the barriers of old perceptions which may not serve us well. I found it very helpful along with meditation to reshape the way I viewed my relationship and interaction with the world around me. Thank you for this insightful post!

    • I am familiar with the lesson of observing some known objects while stating they were not as they seem. It must have been encouraging to find the exercise helpful (with meditation) to reshape/reframe things. Your words and experience are inspiring! Appreciate your creating time to comment, Cheryl.

  5. Very nice post my friend. It made me think, “when am I actually aware”. One place I feel I am acutely aware is in my Jiu Jitsu class. When you have a well conditioned, strong, grown man trying to strangle you, you tend to be quite aware. Thanks for sparking this thought in my mind!

  6. And maybe, just maybe, it is a good thing to not be able to multi-task as well as one once could. It provides you with the time and space to focus your intentions more singularly and clearly. πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading and sharing your personal experience and perspective.

    • Most of it is a conscious effort, Shree. Unless your a Buddhist Monk who has been practicing awareness for ages, it’s going to take some overt effort. πŸ™‚ Still, kudos for creating time to practice!

  7. I had an instructor once tell my class that we can’t help the thoughts that pop in to our heads. We can, however, control what we do with the thoughts. Do we dismiss them, act on them, file them? That memory came to mind as I read your post. It’s often crossed my mind when I have had an absurd thought come bouncing in to my awareness and I quickly get rid of it. And work on being aware of what I think…and then react to. I hope this makes sense. Your post took me back to that lesson in a classroom.

    • A wise instructor with whom you were privy to learn. Your thought/experience makes clear sense to me. πŸ™‚ Glad the message took you back to a valuable time and lesson! And thank you for your comment.

    • Then run more. πŸ™‚ And from my humble perspective, all is “fair” when it comes to intentionally being and our significance. Unless, of course, you live in Biloxi. πŸ™‚ Enjoy the SW cactus!

  8. Woo! Something I actually do naturally! I think I’m on top of this one, I’m proud to say. Loved the post, it’s something I feel strongly about. Which is not uncommon with your posts. I love how your head works! Your perspective on everything really resonates with me, time and time again. Thanks, Eric!

    • You flatter me, yet again, mate. And I genuinely appreciate your feedback. As long as what I am sharing is resonating with you (and others), I remain inspired to bang away at the keyboard. How fortunate you are to be in tune with your awareness. I suspect it serves you well.

  9. Pingback: 15 Ways to Be More Present In The Now | The Timeless Now

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