Originally published on Elephant Journal
“Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”
~ Lao Tzu
Awareness is a natural prerequisite to transformation.
It recently dawned on me that the only times in which I have truly changed for the better, and when I have actually taken transformational steps in my life, have been the result of cultivated awareness of self.
Any ol’ day I can say I want to change, and in a way that satisfies the longing a bit. I can journal about making a shift (“I need to start ____, because…”) and just the process of acknowledging the desire fires off little satisfaction beams in my brain. It’s as if I trick myself, and in lieu of the trick, am able to move happily along with my day, feeling like I’ve moved forward.
But, I’ve only shifted things around a bit, and played a sleight of hand on myself, all the while postponing any actual change.
It’s frustrating to later open said-journal and see the ever-so-confident proclamation that: I will transform…tomorrow!
The air of certainty is almost embarrassing, yet I know that when I made my “commitment” I had a pure intent.
So what is the answer to actually committing? What is it that allows me to follow through on the moves I know I long to make?
I’m discovering, cultivated awareness does the trick.
Awareness and mindfulness are peas in a pod. If we are fully present in a moment, we are aware. To be mindful while eating is to smell and taste our food, to feel the texture, one satisfying bite at a time—to have all of our energy invested in one place.
When we are mindful we are lost in the task in front of us—lost in the most beautiful way, free of worry and of living in the past or the future; we are experiencing the present moment, standing in the face of the only moment that is and will ever be real.
There are endless ways to cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness will sneak itself into our lives the more that we cultivate it.
I try to enjoy my breakfast mindfully. Sometimes, I get lost in a book, yoga practice or a conversation, during breakfast. I try to bring myself back to my mindful cultivation. Next thing you know, I begin to experience myself truly listening to everyone and everything around me. I remember how wonderful it is to be present.
In the midst of expanding our awareness of the external aspects of our lives, we experience a natural increase in the awareness of our inner world.
I find myself more aware of my ever-flowing feelings and desires, my body, my frustrations, my moods, my mission, my beauty, my soul and my fears.
My perceptions of these components of self become visible to me, where before I was blind to them, moving through life seemingly randomly.
I’d like to mention, as we become more aware of ourselves, we must remember: with greater awareness, comes greater compassion, a true self-love.
Each of us is in a different place of our journey, and none of these places are less perfect than another. A common habit, which doesn’t actually assist us in moving forward, is to be too hard on ourselves for where we stand today. Progress can only happen when we are willing to treat ourselves as our own best friend.
We must approve of and love our current selves while we push for our own transformations.
With increased self-awareness, some feelings bubble forth, which don’t fluctuate and disappear. Instead, they stay almost hauntingly present, perhaps because they wish to transform us.
For me, this most recently appeared out of my need for movement. There were all of these areas of my life in which I was striving for equilibrium, yet I was seldom getting up and moving my body! My physical self was pissed off, and the rest of my being was not too thrilled, either. My emotions kept trying to get my attention and tell me to make a change, and over and over I heard them, pretended I didn’t, and proceeded to ignore them.
But, still aware, the feelings continued to linger, and my emotions’ harassments got louder. They loitered and took up space in my conscious, until one day, I sat down on my bed, and was overcome with this incredible feeling of sickness, for not responding to my body and mind’s outcries. I was fed up, so entirely over it.
Thank goodness for emotions like this, which can inspire action. Without action, we dwell in self-pity, a destructive and draining force.
Finally, at the end of my own rope,
I let go.
I let go of all of my lists of excuses and my heap of postponements. I opened my tired arms and released it all.
The next day, I woke up and was committed to making movement a balanced part of my life. Since then, it hasn’t made an appearance on my to-do list.
I was finally ready to do it.
There was no seemingly big effort, I was just finally prepared to take the leap. Maybe this is one of the most amazing things awareness can do for us—push us to be better.
If we allow it, awareness will be our persistent pal. It will stay with us through our avoidance, all the while cultivating a readiness in us. Gently, yet surely, it will allow us to feel our dissatisfaction, and to accumulate the power within us to finally make a shift. As long as we are ready.
We can pull and pull at the roots of flowers to try to make them grow faster, yet we all sprout in our own perfect timing.
Our role is to be present, to be there for our development, to be aware and to make our moves when it’s time.