Awareness is a form of experience that can be defined as being in touch with one’s own existence. It involves allowing yourself to be where you already are and to become familiar with your own actual experience moment by moment. Socrates was famous in ancient Athens for saying “Know thyself”. I am not implying that all our problems will magically disappear if we develop awareness. Rather it is that all life’s problems can be seen clearly through the lens of a clear mind. When we start to be more aware, we are simply in the moment, using all our senses to perceive, to learn, to act, to change and to heal. This is why moment to moment awareness is so precious. We may have to teach ourselves how to do it through practicing, but our lives become more real and fulfilling.
Are we really aware?
How can we not be aware…? What we don’t realize is that our awareness is only a fraction of “what is” at every moment. It takes will and effort to remain in a state of full awareness.
*I invite you to a little experiment to experience firsthand the state of your awareness:
Take a walk, like for example walking home from work (driving will also do!) and observe what happens. Are you walking in a hurry? Are you busy thinking what you will cook for dinner? Are you thinking about your job or your boss? Are you aware of people, cars, buildings, images, smells…?
After the completion of the experiment, reflect on how much or how little were you aware of yourself within your environment. Good luck!
Why awareness is so important?
You might ask yourself, so what if I haven’t develop awareness? So what if I am unaware of what I am experiencing? Here‘s the thing:
Unawareness can keep us from being in touch with our needs, feelings, sensations, our body and its signals. Unawareness can dominate the mind, we end up functioning mechanically “on autopilot” and all our decisions and actions are affected by it. Imagine if you are working hard without being aware of your need to rest, tiredness will take its toll on you, at the end you will have a burn out or become physically ill. When the mind is dictated by unawareness and dissatisfaction, it is difficult to feel calm and relaxed. This state of mind affects also our ability to see situations clearly. A chronic state of unawareness can cause us to miss beautiful experiences in our lives and it can create physical problems for us (problems we are not even aware that we generate ourselves).
Awareness is the cornerstone and primary purpose of Gestalt therapy. Awareness of being and doing requires only that we pay attention and see things as they are.
When we are aware of our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and needs, we stay true to ourselves, we have access to a greater potential and more choices are available to us, we take responsibility and step forward into a deeply satisfying and creative life.