There has been a surprisingly busy air of 'Back To School/Work' this week as I've noticed the increasing traffic sounds and general bustle after the calm of the summer holidays. I have taken the opportunity on this glorious September day sit down and re-evaluate and get clear on my direction and offerings.
I run two businesses. A Skills Development business called HorseSense UK that as the name suggests, engages horses in the learning process and this one, my health and wellbeing business. I love them both, for different reasons, and of course there are big crossovers.
However, as I sat drilling down to the knub of what I offer, I was once again reminded that everything I do drills down to self-awareness.
Self-awareness is an essential survival skill and best developed for success.
Physical self-awareness is what makes us aware of our bodies and what stops us from walking into things! Physical awareness helps us to know when to take a nap or get a drink, and gives us clues and feedback on our lifestyle choices (think caffeine induced insomnia, or overconsumption of calorific foods and trouser tightness!). Learning to listen to and experiment with our bodies is an important part of being human and we do much of that when we are young.
Mental awareness is the awareness of our mind. When we are mentally aware, we're aware of our inner thought processes and self-talk. We become aware of our default patterns of speaking to ourselves and our reactive responses to situations e.g. "why does this always happen to me?" or "I couldn't possibly do that, I'm not X enough!" Befriending our minds helps us to see the mind, rather than get caught in habitual thinking, and is the basis of the awareness-based meditation practice I teach.
Soul-awareness is being aware of the essence of your reason to be here in this lifetime. Our souls are one of the deepest parts of our individual being and what helps us to be unique! Our soul journey's are the lessons we came here to learn and what shapes our wants and desires. Soul-awareness is when we know what it is we want on a very deep level or when we have wandered off our personal success path. Generally, being aligned with our life's purpose feels good and when we are not, it doesn't! Becoming aware of our soul's wants requires deep spiritual work. It can be done though coaching and the asking of great questions, or it can be done through meditation or a spiritual practice such as Reiki.
Finally, there is awareness of awareness. This is where we become aware of the essence of all life. It is often also known as love, God, prana or chi. It is the energy that underpins all life and the void it exists in. It is the totally of everything, cosmic wholeness. This is part of who we are too, so also falls under self-awareness.
Can we be too self-aware?
The answer is no, but because self-awareness is not to be confused with other things!
We've all met someone that has been on such a deep spiritual quest they don't ever quite manage to make it out of the temple, or the fearful friend that thinks every physical twinge is the next serious illness. We've also met those that seem so zen they're a bit distant, like nothing touches them at all! This is what some of us may think if when we think of self-awareness, but neither are true self-awareness.
Those that overfocus on their spiritual practice or their physical symptoms are hyper (over) vigilant. Hypervigilance, a survival technique, requires us to narrow our awareness to a few, limited stimuli in an effort to stop an undesirable event happening. It is based in past, unresolved issues that are determining behaviour (albeit unconsciously) in the now.
Those that never quite get round to living and navel gaze instead are only looking at one small part of themselves. That person is forgetting they are part of a bigger, interconnected whole AND an individual being. Self-awareness is also all-awareness.
All-awareness means having a positive, uplifting and engaging life. It means having rich and rewarding relationships, seeing the outside world if you can, and being a part of the community. Of course, your soul-journey may be to go inwards a lot in this lifetime, but don't think that is what you have to do in order to be self-aware. Einstein was very self aware, and he definitely didn't stay at home and do nothing!
Similarly, focusing on physical symptoms fails to contextualise what it is to be human. In our lifetime, we will experience all sorts of physical sensations! Hot/cold, pain/comfort, tense/relaxed to name a few. When we hyperfocus and judge our physical experiences to be bad, we miss all the healthy physical happenings in our bodies. We're walking miracles and it's important to remember that also.
On the flip side, those that wander around in a seemingly spiritual daze may not be self-aware either, they may hypo (under) vigilant! Self-awareness requires a level of connection to ourselves. It means being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the first place, even if fleetingly so. We may not necessarily be affected by them (which is spiritual mastery), but we at least have an awareness they are happening. In this instance, we become the vessel through which our life experience happens.
For me, it comes down to understanding we will continuously swing from extreme to extreme, but with practice we can come to rest more and more in the middle.
This is for me, what true self-awareness is. Being aware that we exist, but aware of the outside world too. Being aware of when we have dropped our awareness, but not so hyper-aware of everything that we cannot function. A beautiful sweetspot in the centre where we are most resourced.
It starts right here right now by choosing for it.
This, is one of the many topics I cover in my weekly Meditation Group, plus a guided meditation.
If you'd like to be part of our weekly exploration group or feel this is an area you need to develop more reach out, if you'd like help to know how!