“When we are engaged with life, we have the power to choose what thoughts turn into actions, and which actions turn into habits. By engaging with the moment, we can rewire ourselves to think in more positive ways.” – Corey Allen, Now Is The Way
The most powerful result of self-development is an increased level of awareness. With this power, you can overcome challenging obstacles, and install or delete habits with relative ease.
Presence is about being where you are right now, without distracting mental chatter. Awareness is knowing where that is and why you’re there. They go together, but are different aspects of perception.
Awareness has two main forms. Self-awareness means knowing what’s going on in your mind, and why you do the things you do. Having a high level of self-awareness leads to better ability to direct your own actions with a calm sense of clarity. It also involves noticing your thoughts and not reacting to them, but learning from them.
The second form is external awareness. This is your perception of the world and others around you. With a high level of this awareness, you appreciate the beauty of your environment and notice small details that most people miss. Your interactions with others are better too, because in this state you’ll be able to listen and respond to them more attentively.
Now that you know what awareness is, it’s time to learn how to increase it.
I’ve found three powerful methods for drastically increasing awareness:
Meditation increases awareness by helping you gain more control over your thoughts. During meditation, your mind will be clear of thoughts at times. By practicing it regularly, you can get into that state during your normal life.
This is the power of meditation. You’ll be more aware of what’s going on around you because you’ll be less distracted by thoughts in your mind.
Using an app like Waking Up or Headspace is a great way to get started with meditation. Start out with 10 minute sessions, and commit fully to the practice. By doing this every day, you will experience increased awareness of your thoughts and better emotional control.
Recently, I attended an online course with Kyle Cease that incorporated Meditation and Wim Hof breathing. The time we spent in meditation was powerful, and adding Wim Hof breathing helped me reach a higher level of awareness and presence than ever before.
The Wim Hof breathing seemed to multiply the effects of meditation. After the breathing session, I became emotionally invincible. Any rejection or slights from other people didn’t seem to bother me at all.
Wim Hof Breathing
Wim Hof breathing is a type of breathing practice developed by the Dutch iconoclast Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman. It consists of breathing in deeply and then releasing the air from your lungs quickly. This cycle of breathing is repeated 30 times in a row. The resulting hyper-oxygenation of your brain creates a high level of presence and awareness.
Here’s how Corey Allen describes the effects of this type of breathing in his book Now Is The Way: “Your calm mind recognizes the intoxicated feeling and cuts through it with its heightened focus in order to stabilize. This allows you to have a momentary heightened sense of awareness.”
Wim Hof Breathing has numerous benefits (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/benefits), including increased willpower, focus and creativity. One of the most powerful effects for me has been the high level of presence it creates. In this state, I’m completely in the moment and not dwelling on any thoughts.
During work, when I know I’ll be dealing with a difficult customer, I do a round of breathing beforehand. It helps me stay calm even during situations that would normally provoke irritability. Harsh words don’t have any emotional impact after practicing this form of breathing.
Below is the video I use for my daily practice of Wim Hof breathing. Make sure you watch a how-to video before trying it for yourself!
Always practice it sitting down, and never while driving! This form of breathing often causes a harmless tingling sensation.
Writing daily is something I would recommend for everyone. Don’t worry about publishing – simply journaling every day is a gamechanger. It helps you become more aware of your patterns of thought and action. It also leads to increased gratitude, focus and creativity
Here are just a few of the ways writing has improved my life:
- Decision-Making – Whenever I have a tough decision to make, writing out my thoughts on the matter and potential outcomes helps make the right decision much clearer.
- Gratitude – One of the quickest and easiest ways to become happier is to be more grateful. By writing out the good things that happen to you during the day, you’ll get a chance to appreciate how meaningful they were.
- Lessons Learned – Mistakes are the best possible tool for learning. Unfortunately, we often make the same mistakes over and over again. Write about a mistake you made, and you can go deeper into what caused it and what alternate actions you’ll take if that situation arises again. Now you’re more aware of the mistake and less likely to repeat it.
- Creativity – Whenever I have an idea, I like to write it down so I don’t forget it. If you write down ideas, they’ll show up more often. I will even take some time and write about how I would implement an idea and the potential results it could have.
In the end, few things can improve your life more than increasing your level of awareness
Awareness of the choices you’re making helps you make better ones.
Awareness of the people around you helps you become kinder and more compassionate.
Awareness of the present moment leads to a greater appreciation for each moment of your life.
Having more awareness will change every aspect of your life, one step at a time. Your decisions and relationships will become better and better. Every moment will be appreciated in a way it never has before.
Action Step: Choose one of the methods above, and try it out for 10 minutes today.
Feel free to share your results in the comments below!