Self-awareness leads us on a journey of deep self-discovery and ultimately to the awareness of Self; this is when we are aware of ourselves on all levels, consciously acting and reacting from a full knowledge and understanding of Self. It is taking responsibility for ourselves, knowing what triggers us and what elevates us. It is how we perceive ourselves and others as well as how we respond to how others perceive us. Our shadow and light, and our ego, knowing all of these, accepting them, and consciously working on them is what leads to greater levels of awareness of Self.
To map out a journey of self-awareness, we need to start at looking at the aspects of self, starting with the physical body.
How aware are you of your body? No, not is the self-conscious, shy, or wounded way of what you do and do not like about yourself, but how you treat it? What do you put into your body? Are you drinking enough water and eating nutritious food? Are you moving enough to keep your body supple, and resting enough to allow it to recharge? When you get ill, do you take proper care of your body? Most people do not drink enough water, maybe plenty of other fluids, but not water. Just as a car needs an oil change with clean oil, your body needs clean water to refresh all the cells in your body and keep them healthy. Drinking teas and coffee, juices and so on does keep you hydrated, yes, but your body needs to work to process these liquids whereas clean, pure water can get put to use much better and much faster. Same with our food. Do you eat healthy and nutritious food? I am not referring to a vegan or even vegetarian diet, but a healthy, balanced diet that gives your body all the proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants etc that it needs to be energized and healthy? This vehicle of ours is so sensitive, but if we consciously listen to it, it will tell us exactly what we need. Just like you feel thirsty when your body needs water, your body will ask for what it needs. You might suddenly feel like eating an apple, a banana, a juicy steak or drinking chamomile tea. When you have a conscious awareness of your body it will tell you exactly what it needs to be healthy. It is all about balance and knowing how much is helpful and how much is harmful. How much can be tolerated and how much is putting you at risk. This goes for alcohol, caffeine, meat, fats, and you name it. It does not stop at our nutrition; but how does your body react to certain places and people? Our body and senses are always alert, but we are not always connected enough to it to understand the signs and signals it sends us. It is not called a “gut feeling” for nothing. Your body knows when something is helpful or harmful, you just need to learn to listen and feel, and it starts with simply paying attention.
Next, we need to look at our emotional body, how our emotions flow, what fires it up and what freezes it over.
We all experience many emotions each day, and probably never really think about why we experience them, because it Is just an emotion that was triggered by something that happened, right? Yes and no. Every emotion that you feel stems from some relation inside of you. For example, two people are looking at the same baby, one gets extremely happy and filled with joy, the other becomes sad and nostalgic. Same scenario, different emotional reaction. Now we ask why? So, we look at the root this emotion stems from. The person who reacted joyfully has started trying for a family and looking at this baby makes her excited and happy for when she has her own. The nostalgic and sad person has suffered the most tragic loss of a child and is reminded of what has been lost. This may seem a bit extreme of an example, but the same analyzation can be done for any and every emotion we experience. When we get angry, sad, excited, passionate, any emotional manifestation can be traced to a root. People who are cold and detached from their emotions, or do not get emotionally involved very easily also have their reason for being that way, whether it is conscious or not is the question. To really be aware of Self, we need to know these corners of our being that triggers our emotions; especially the heavy emotions that drag us down. When we experience a flare up of an emotion, the first thing to be aware of is to allow this emotion to manifest. Feel it. But, be very aware of not directing it at anyone. Do not shoot your anger at someone. Do not blame someone for your sadness. Instead, use your energy to converse with this emotion, ask where it is coming from, why it is manifesting. And one answer will lead to other questions and yet another answer. Until you find the root cause, and then you start to heal. And slowly, as you get to know yourself more, and you learn what your emotional triggers are, you become emotionally healthier, more balanced and in control.
Our awareness now needs to reach is our mental activity. Our processor of all information. When we think about mental energy, we often think about intelligence, thoughts, planning and organization. But our mental energy is also the place of imagination and creativity. With unawareness of our mental activity, we easily fall trap of over thinking, worry and negative self-talk. But when we can push beyond this and put our mental energy to work, consciously, we can truly create a whole new world for ourselves. I was once told “how blessed be you to have an imagination” and those words have stuck with me since then. Now, not to get away from oneself, drifting off and becoming aloof, detached from reality, but when our self-talk becomes conversation and our imagination becomes planning, we start to use our mental energy in a totally different way. And just as the key ingredient for our brain function is oxygen, the key to mental clarity and consciousness is breathing. When worry arises, recognize it as it starts, breathe into it and see what the point of worry is. Then keep breathing into this worry and start expanding it with each breath, expanding your mind until you reach the thought of solution for this worry, because it does exist, it is just a matter of finding it. When ideas pop into your head, do not allow what is going on around you distract you. Breath into this idea, expand your imagination into it with every breath and allow yourself to grow this idea into fruition and success. When we are aware of our mental aspect, we will be able to recognize these worries or ideas as they start to happen and then consciously work with them before we get lost in them or lose them.
Once we are aware of our physical, emotional, and mental aspects, can recognize our patterns and work with them consciously, we can start expanding our awareness to our spiritual aspects. There are thousands of books written on spiritual aspects, but the two I want to focus on here are the shadow and light aspects of our being. Our shadow aspects are those not-so-nice behaviours that stick out from time to time (or all the time). Our rage, judgement, pity, hatred, non-acceptance, rigidness, and manipulation, to mention but a few, are all shadows that stem from badly formed patterns growing up or wounding from traumatic experiences throughout our lives. We can either choose to be consumed by the shadows and fall in to complete darkness, or we can choose to acknowledge, accept and love these parts of us in order to heal them and integrate them in to knowledge, wisdom and service. This requires some very deep digging in to the subconscious mind, and therefore is best to be done after we have become accustomed to being aware of our physical, emotional and mental aspects, after we have learned how to observe ourselves and then trail it back to its root. These shadow causing wounds are often buried deep in the subconscious so it takes strength and courage to dig in to it and remember what caused them, then work on them to heal them, be it forgiving someone or forgiving yourself, accepting and loving a part of yourself, opening up to compassion for a certain group of people, whatever that wound asks for in order to heal so that it will no longer cast a shadow.
Our light aspects also need recognition, acceptance, and integration, and we need to become aware of our capacity to absorb and shine more and more light. For this we journey in to our super conscious and, with humility and grace, we see and understand the beauty and light we can bring to ourselves and everything around us. Knowing that we are not special for doing so, but that anyone is capable of this, and we have just become aware of this aspect of ourselves. We start to see why our passions are our passions and start to understand our purpose in life. How to express ourselves at the highest levels and live at our full potential. Becoming aware of our true Self and integrating that light in to our shadow, integrating and healing it, with full awareness and control of our physical, emotional and mental aspects, balanced and whole – ready to take on any opportunity or obstacle that we come across in this beautiful journey called life – aware of Self.
Then when we are living fully aware of ourselves, our energy, our emotions and mind, our actions and reactions, we can consciously interact with the world around us. We then start to become aware of our surroundings and how it responds to us, how other people respond to us. Being aware of how people react when we interact with them will help us adapt ourselves to have more favourable interaction. We become aware of where we are welcome and not, where we are needed and not. But it all starts within, with Self.
Start fresh with yourself. Become aware of who and what you are. And then be that wonderful Self that you were born to be!