I facilitate a regular online reflection and meditation session and recently participants were questioning the practice of awareness. One particular question arose that we considered further –
Is the practice of awareness self-absorbed?
If you have read the post What is Awareness you will know that from my perspective the practice of awareness is to simply see; to observe something as it is, for what it is; to pay conscious attention to your thoughts and experiences. However, awareness doesn’t happen magically, it is something we need to cultivate, it is a new habit we need to create, it is a process and it can take time to learn.
I love when participants ask questions, when they are willing to inquire into their own experience and share their thoughts and insights. Questioning helps us to learn, to see new possibilities and to make informed and empowered choices in our lives. Many of us have not been encouraged to question our ideals, values, expectations, perceptions or those of the society we live in, and it is often to our detriment. This is something I love about the approach taken by the One World Academy – we are encouraged by passionate teachers to question, to look within and to not just accept something because it was given to us by someone who appears “wise”.
So what do you think?
Is it selfish and self-absorbed to cultivate awareness, to look within?
Does it take time that is better spent doing other things??
A good friend who participated in an Awareness and Love program recently reminded me that what we do for ourselves, we also do for our families…..If we are nurturing fear, anger, resentment…..then we bring this to our interactions with our family and all of our other relationships and interactions…..similarly if we are nurturing love, joy, connection and peace then this is what we bring to our family.
Does this resonate with you? Is this true of your own experience?
Recently this same friend shared an insightful experience where she gives a beautiful example of just how the practice of awareness can help others. In this example she was able to bring awareness to an angry response she gave to her husband, she was able to observe her thought process and to see the impact it was having on those around her and take responsibility for this. This can be a profoundly healing experience in our relationships.
For me too, it has been my personal experience that the practice of awareness is helping me to be less self-absorbed and to experience greater connection with others. The more I understand myself, the more I am able to understand and empathise with others instead of judge and blame them, the more I am able to take responsibility for being happy and sharing this happiness with others…..and for me rather than being a self-absorbed pursuit I see that this is having wide reaching impacts on others and on my capacity to connect and contribute to our world.
A simple example from my own life goes something like this…… I was assisting my husband with the dishes, and I was amazed at how little attention I was paying to the task since my mind was thinking ahead to a Monday Meditations session coming up – I was worried I wasn’t prepared enough, what if we have technological issues?
Consistently when we do the dishes my husband asks me to wipe up big dishes at the back of the stack first, so that there is room for others and his organised system can flow smoothly, yet I usually find him having to remind me several times to keep with this. As I was observing myself on this particular occasion I saw just how habitual my response was – I went for the cutlery first (small things and up the front), my mind wandering elsewhere. I did this 3 times before I realised what was happening!! My husband and I laughed that I was about to facilitate a session about awareness!!
It got me thinking though – how many other things in life do I do on autopilot, not paying attention, mind engaged in some story??
It also made me think if I paid more attention not only would my experience of any task deepen (you know that washing and wiping the dishes can be joyful don’t you?) but that I am able to pay attention to and respect the requests of others – I don’t consciously mean to thwart my husband’s dish washing system…..but in unawareness what do I communicate to him? That I don’t care what he has asked of me? That I am not willing to cooperate?
The act of paying attention, of being aware of myself…..enables me to see clearly, to show greater respect and care to those around me.
Is this a self-absorbed outcome?
What is your experience of looking within or embracing a self-care practice?
Here is a short reflection and meditation session to support your inquiry.
As you begin or you are contemplating the practice and cultivation of awareness it is helpful to remember these words:
“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t have to tend my crops. If I want a bountiful harvest, everyday I must tend to their needs and nurture them. After the harvest the cycle continuous and will do so until hang it all up. I would like to think I am my most important crop. Daily I must tend to myself, my state of being, my state of mind. Only then a continuous harvest of great bounty will continue to emerge. A harvest that produces the realization that my life, my joy, my well being is infinitely connected to all other factors – My family, friends, teachers, community, the land, sky, this cosmic capsule we call Earth along with all it’s inhabitants.” (OWA)