The Conscious Process of Positive Change: Part 2 Awareness and Acceptance
“In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
– Pico Iyer
Part 2: Awareness and Acceptance
If you’re trying to map out a run in a new city, you’ll get lost if your directions start from the wrong Marriott in town. Same with any plan for improving your life. If you start from the wrong place, you won’t end up where you want to.
Awareness and acceptance are the first stages of conscious change because they place you, exactly where you are, right now. If you want improved health, better communication in your relationships, a career that suits who you are, you have to start exactly where you are, at this moment…not where you want or wish to be.
Yes, you can visualize, see, feel, taste where you want to be, but first comes awareness and acceptance of your current situation and experience.
Awareness is a part of every moment of our waking life. We are constantly aware, but to what end are we focusing that awareness? Mostly, it’s on the running dialogue of our thoughts and the deeper voice of our beliefs. The small quiet voice of intuition and wise guidance…your north star, is there too. Mindfulness is the conscious, chosen way to focus our awareness and get in touch with that north star.
Conscious awareness is not the awareness you are most accustomed to. You are aware of hunger, of thirst, of illness, of pain, of the pleasure of something delicious to eat.
Conscious awareness takes this same kind of awareness and then asks of you something more…and something less.
The more it asks of you is time, attention and direction…banks to the river.
The less it asks of you is: less mental/thinking interpretation. Conscious awareness and acceptance happens in your physical/emotional being, not in your thoughts. This is pretty crucial.
And, your mind often will want a response or solution…quickly. These are knee jerk reactions that are our conditioned responses. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we can respond to various stimulus automatically, without consciousness.
Conscious awareness means getting off automatic pilot and pausing and feeling, with the whole of your body and being. It is a learned skill and needs time, practice and cultivation since our minds are so used to overriding this first, most primary experience of being alive.
This kind of pause, of feeling yourself and the world around you, in this very moment, with no immediate thought/interpretation, is the experience of pure conscious awareness. Try it right now. Stop, pause, feel your body, become aware of the movement of your breath, sense into your emotional experience, or lack thereof.
After awareness, or, an integral part of pure awareness, is acceptance. Try not to evade or turn away from whatever you find. If there is resistance…turn your awareness to the resistance.
The Chi Skill of Body Sensing is a good practice to cultivate conscious awareness and acceptance. You focus your awareness, specifically, on how your body feels. What might come of that is as varied as there are people. You might feel a strong emotion or feeling, you might feel nothing at all, you might be aware of the Chi in your body, tingling and moving, you might feel a tightness in your shoulders, or maybe a tightness all over. You might feel grounded, spacious and centered – fabulous!
Before making any adjustments, take a bit more time. Really feel deeply into that experience and notice if acceptance is there. Spend a bit more time hanging out with whatever you find. Breath with it.
Pure awareness is the first step of conscious change for a lot of reasons, but the most important is you can not change what you’re not aware of! Even google can’t give you directions if you don’t know the original starting point of a road trip. If you want to change your eating habits, you cannot create real, deep, lasting change if you don’t feel, experience and get to know the reasons you make unhealthy choices in the first place.
One thing I’m working on consciously changing is the anger that arises in me, especially with my husband, Danny, you know, the Chi guy. We’ve lived and worked together for more than 25 years, so, yes, I’m a slow study I guess.
Anger is a really potent energy to become consciously aware of, to be with when it arises, to experience fully without shutting it down (but maybe before inflicting it on others). It is so potent and quick and fiery, it is a great emotion to choose to become consciously aware of how it plays out in your body and being. Watch it arise, out of seemingly nowhere. That’s a great place to investigate…where did that anger come from? Notice how it grows and takes over your body and your mental capacity; see how quickly it wants to burst out of you at something outside of yourself.
OK, now you have a taste of my anger. Yours might take a different path, but it is fascinating to watch, almost as an outside observer of your own self. Anger, desire, fear, shame, anxiety, hunger, depletion…any and every emotion, physical sensation…all of these are great places to learn to stop and turn the focus of awareness in how these energies, feelings and emotions play out in your life.
In ChiLiving we get to know the quality of the energy coursing through your body in the study of the elements: earth, water, fire and air, as a guide to how to manage them.
In my practice, what is most fascinating is the experience that this life within us wants and needs our conscious awareness. It is what is being asked of us to evolve and grow.
Pure awareness and acceptance has a power I cannot explain. It is a profound mystery. But, I have experienced it enough times to know that awareness, without thought and explanation, has the power to transform energy faster and more truly than anything else. Just by being with anger, being with sadness, being with hunger… those energies move, change and transform. It can take time, and it most certainly is a practice, and, the results are profound.
And in doing so, being with whatever is there, the next phases of conscious change unfold: understanding, resolution and finally action.