When I talk about living consciously I am referring to being aware of your emotional state, and reactions based on this emotional state. This encompasses not only what is going on in the mind but also what is happening in the body. So often people experience emotions happening TO them, as if it is something out of their control and they are victims of this experience. However, when we become more conscious of the emotion that is happening, when and where we feel it in our bodies, and know how we tend to react when feeling this way, then we can live more consciously. There are great benefits to be gained from this practice of conscious living:
- Live proactively versus reactively
When we live more consciously with a greater awareness of our baseline state of being and the emotions, as well as felt-sense of emotions within the body, we are no longer hostage to our emotional state. As soon as we become aware of the emotions surfacing and acknowledge them then we can choose what to do about them and with them, rather than simply resorting to our default responses (which have often been unconscious default responses since childhood).
- Be more empowered
Now, instead of that anger or depression pressing the red button that causes your life to self-destruct whether in the workplace or within your space of relating to others you can use your conscious awareness of your emotions to take a step back, evaluate what and why you are feeling what you are feeling and feel more empowered rather than at the mercy of your emotions.
- Find joy again
When we live unconsciously this often involves denying our true feelings and trying to avoid feeling any negative feelings. Unfortunately our emotions are not separate little boxes that we find on a check list to be pre-selected for each experience. We cannot choose to only have happiness and joy all the time. Kahlil Gibran famously said “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.” Our emotions fall on a spectrum and when we try to avoid feeling anything on the one end of the spectrum we block our ability to feel any emotion at all.
- Experience release and energy
To live unconsciously requires a great deal of energy. Emotions are energy and most experiences in life trigger emotion as we attach meaning to these experiences. If those emotions are difficult ones they are suppressed but, much like boiling water pushing against the lid of the pot, those emotions exert energy in the body and energy is required to keep them under wraps. Just like the water settles to a simmer when the lid is taken off the boiling pot, when we shine our awareness on our emotions and acknowledge them there is generally a great sense of release, freedom and energy.
- Allow your body to heal
When held in the body all those unresolved emotions have energy frequencies that match the frequencies of various organs, endocrines and body parts. Consequently, they tend to be stored within the body and have an influence on biological functioning in relation to where they are stored. In addition we often hold a great deal of unresolved emotions in our diaphragm and this holding can have a very real impact on our breathing cycle – so pivotal to our energy levels, emotional and physical wellbeing. All those stored emotions are going to have some kind of impact and if not released from the body through tears, noise, urine or feces (after having been processed) they may very likely manifest physically for e.g. as fear in the lower back causing back pain or fear resulting in a weakened knee prone to injury. Acknowledging, processing and releasing emotion allows the body to function more optimally and releases many aches and pains as well as even chronic illnesses.
- Know yourself better
When we live consciously we begin to notice our patterns and responses. We see that we are prone to experience anxiety in this or that circumstance. Oftentimes, simply becoming conscious of a pattern, such as a tendency to become irritated whenever you perceive yourself as being criticized, results in that pattern losing its power.
- Make positive changes in your life
You can use your conscious awareness of your emotions, reactions and felt-senses to become more conscious of areas that are no longer working for you. You may become aware of the chronic muscle tension in the shoulders and back and how this worsens when feeling under pressure at work or the gnawing feeling in the gut when faced with situations that do not sit well with you. This can bring about an awareness of areas in which you would like to bring about change, better manage emotions or access better tools for management of such experiences
- Make better decisions
When living unconsciously and at the mercy of our emotional state it is very easy to make decisions based on anger or fear that will later lead to regret. Imagine being more in touch with what FEELS right and what FEELS wrong. When being aware and conscious we can tune into what the decision feels like in relation to our truth and our centered self rather from a place of fear or anger.
- Improve your relationships
It goes without saying that if we can make more conscious decisions and be more in touch with emotions, resulting in proactive and considered responses that our relationships can only benefit from this. So often there is a largely unconscious process that plays out when choosing partners and friends in that we often attempt to master or make sense of previous relationship difficulties from our childhood and past. However, because this is so often unconscious we can tend to simply repeat the same pattern – choosing people who trigger our fear or anxiety or anger. When conscious of this we can choose to react differently, realising that we do not have to repeat old patterns and feel the same way as we did in relation so similar childhood relationships.
- Live in the present moment
Living in the past is so often due to regrets related to things that have happened and rumination of things that we have done, often with a desire to change it all (and generally leading to depression). Future-oriented living is often linked to anxiety in that it is related to a fear about what may happen and a desire to control it (which is so often impossible). Conscious living is about living in the moment – being aware of what we are feeling right here and right now as this is the moment in which we have power. When we live in this present moment and feel empowered by how we are with our emotions so often that past and present focus becomes so much less and has so much less power over our experience of life right now.
In my next post I will be sharing some tips on how to live more consciously….