Want to know something you can easily do today to make a positive difference in your experience?
Then read on…
What Can Awareness Do For You?
Awareness is the key to success in many things. Awareness gives you the ability to aim your attention. Everything you’d like to do that is not a repeat of something you’ve already done requires your attention.
There are various ways to be aware, but one of the easiest and most useful is to not think and to know that you’re not thinking. When you’re in this state, there is some ‘you’ that is observing a thinking machine sitting idle. It’s like you as a driver watching your car sit in the driveway.
It’s not necessary to be aware for an hour while meditating in the morning. It’s not necessary or possible to be aware all day every day. All you need to do to change your life is to become aware for a few seconds at a time, as many times during the day as possible.
You should aim to create a moment of awareness any time something happens or before you do something:
- The phone rings – Go Aware for some seconds
- Walk into a room – Go Aware
- Get ready to respond to somebody – Go Aware
- Pick up a glass of alcohol – Go Aware
The more urgent and seemingly important the next action you’re going to take is the more valuable it is to take those few seconds to Go Aware first. Just the fact that you feel urgent about something nearly always means that you are misreading the situation and setting yourself up for a weak reaction. Going Aware can save you from that.
A New Approach To Practicing Awareness
I’ve been applying a new approach to my awareness practice that really helps.
My new trick is to focus on my exhale.
I’ve learned that most of us are actually breathing too much. Too much of our breath cycle is spent in the inhale, or in holding our breath at the top. However, when you prolong the exhale, and/or hold your breath at the bottom, two great things happen.
More oxygen gets delivered to your cells. They like that. (Yes it’s counterintuitive. Read up on the Bohr Effect if you’re interested in the science.)
Your parasympathetic nervous system – that part of your system that creates relaxation, repair, and restoration – gets activated.
So exhaling is important, and the bonus is that I find it a lot easier to pay attention to. If I focus on the breath in my nostrils (a common approach to mindfulness practice), my mind wanders off in 3 seconds.
The Result of Focusing on Exhale
But when I focus on my exhale, I’m able to keep my attention focused for 10 seconds easily. This makes for a quick and super high-quality reset, physically and mentally.
You can do deep slow breaths or quicker shallow breaths. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you pay attention to the exhale, and extend it to be at least as long as you inhale. Extend it to twice as long if you can.
Try it right now. Then set an alarm on your phone for 22 minutes from now, and do it again. Then repeat.