Levels of Awareness~By Shannon Gordon, Registered Therapeutic Counsellor~
As the rain begins and the seasons change, it is the ideal time to create space within ourselves and form a relationship with our awareness. Listening to the pitter-patter of rain, the singing of birds, and the crackle of fall leaves under our feet allows us to truly be present in the moment. What a gift all this could be—the end of summer’s breeze on our skin and the prickle of winter’s chill. How peaceful it can feel when we ground ourselves in mother earth and really allow ourselves to soak up what nature has to offer. This, our most basic level of awareness, can give us a space to breath and move when we’re feeling stuck.
What if we delve a little deeper?
Try shifting your awareness to yourself. First, notice your breath, then maybe your heartbeat. How does your body feel in the moment? Do you have an itch that needs to be scratched? Is there a pain, throbbing, or other sensation that you are aware of? All of this listening to our body is information. It’s our nervous system at work, and most of the time we are too busy to really take a moment and listen. Instead, we work at a more superficial level where we mistake our judgments about others as truth. We may even tell ourselves that we know what others are feeling and thinking. This assists us in creating a story that satisfies our thoughts and feelings, when in fact we can never be sure how someone else is feeling. This seems even clearer when we consider that we rarely know how we’re truly feeling.
If we use this awareness and notice when we are making assumptions about others, we can then try to shift our viewpoint to curiosity, which can change our story and soften any judgements we may have. Curiosity allows us to shift our story, which allows us a different perspective of a situation. What if we could then move to a different level of awareness and acknowledge how we react to situations, including the impact of stress. Do we have a knee jerk reaction? Do we speak before we think? Do we jump to conclusions?
And, if we go deeper, perhaps we can ask ourselves what made us react the way we did? Was it a past stress, a current issue, or something else? Then, if we reach even more deeply, we can ask ourselves about the emotion surrounding our action, reaction, or inaction, and where it is located in our body.
As I mentioned in my previous post “The Stories We Live: Why We Feel What We Feel ” we often have a limited vocabulary to express the complex emotions we feel, and this leaves us missing something in this process. Finding the word or phrase that just feels right can take time, but once you unearth it, our story becomes more tangible. Locating where this feeling lives in your body becomes clearer as well.
The idea that our feelings can be felt or stored within the body may sound foreign to some of us, but given the opportunity and the assistance to help explore this aspect of ourselves, the outcome can be profound. An example of recognizing where our feelings reside in our body could be to imagine the nervousness you felt on that first date—the butterflies in your belly, or that first kiss and the tingling in your head. Think of that moment of fear and exhilaration you felt on your first roller
coaster ride when you thought your chest might burst. If we pay close attention and heighten our internal awareness, the information that can come forth is amazing, sometimes life changing, and always worthwhile in our personal growth.
As fall struts forward in all of its golden glory, take a moment to listen to the rain, the crackling of those falling leaves, and feel the cool breeze—then take a moment to turn inwards and see what you hear.