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3 Steps to Greater Awareness
By Art Ramsay, Ph.D.

 Those of you who have been reading my articles for awhile know that I mention awareness frequently. This is because there are only a few aspects of our lives we need to attend to if we want to live rich, full, healthy, happy lives. When you go back through previous articles, you will see what those characteristics are.

 The most beneficial way to put your life into perspective and gain the most feedback is through awareness. This means that from the time you get out of bed in the morning, until you return in the evening, you must stay aware of what is happening.

 What do I mean by awareness? First, according to Wikipedia, Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects or sensory patterns. In this level of consciousness, sense data can be confirmed by an observer without necessarily implying understanding.

 While our awareness depends on sensory perception, it usually is determined by more than one sense at a time. For example, you may observe an event through your eyes, but also hear it. To me, awareness is more a 'collective' sense of what is happening. That is, we use a number of senses without knowing it.

 The first step in being aware is to acknowledge that you are aware of some experience. We are conscious of what we are doing some of the time, and unconscious some of the time. But when we let our habits take over, we do things unconsciously most of the time. Even if we do things in a conscious and habitual state on a 50/50 basis, we are not paying adequate attention.

  In order to move into 'step 1' you must begin to identify your habits. You will need to take control of what has been on 'autopilot' for years. Most of your habits will be easy to identify; getting ready for work, eating, driving, shopping for everyday items such as food, and so on.

 I suggest you make a list of these habits during the day; new ones will surface the deeper you go. Once you have sorted out your habits, identify each one when it occurs. You will begin to sort experiences that are habits from the rest. Once you have done that, you can move on to the next step.

 The second step is to recognize that you are now beginning to be aware of your experiences, whether they be habits or other more conscious events. The idea here is to open your awareness, not to distinguish between habits and other happenings. In this step, begin practicing an activity like Tai Chi, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness.

 These techniques all require an aware state of mind to practice fully and get the most from. You do not have to become an expert or even skilled at the technique; just go through the motions so that your mind becomes more aware of what you are doing. Practicing the technique requires this aware state. You can find the 'how' of doing the practice on the Internet, books, or DVD.

 The third step is where you use the skill you have learned of being aware to live a happier, fuller, richer life. Due to your new awareness of each experience, you will begin to recognize what is working and what is not. This alone, will change your life dramatically.

 Why? Because now you can begin to recognize beliefs that seemed buried in your subconscious/unconscious mind. Now they will be easier to relate to so that you can discover why you get upset about something. Not that you will see this immediately in every circumstance, but over time it will get easier, and old beliefs will drop away.

 You will never discover beliefs unless you are aware of what you are creating in your life. Once your awareness is open to the 'why' of anger, or other emotional state, you will be hot on the trail of its cause. When you pin down the cause, you can then eliminate it.

 Awareness is not something we have been taught to use to sort the causes of our discontent or discomfort with life. We learn about life through other people and organizations such as the school system and governments. These structures do not prepare us to sort out what is not working, but to accept the 'system' we live in as the only way life works.

 The preceding is a glimpse of what is required to reach a point of awareness that gives you the freedom to determine what you are creating and why. The above process cannot be done in a couple of weeks. It will take months of determination and practice. But it is the only way I know of that will help you to release what is not working, discover what is, and embrace techniques to move you forward.

 Take just one step at a time. That is all you ever need to do for any new experience or practice. There is no rush beyond your desire to have a happier more fulfilled life. This reason alone is enough for me.

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