Most of us have been told: “Be aware. Increase your awareness. Awareness is such an important thing. If you are unaware, you will miss life. Only total awareness will bring you peace and happiness, and will help you get rid of sorrow, misery, unhappiness, anxiety, and stress.”
We are able to spot unawareness in others easily. We frequently say “He is so unaware. It’s obvious what he needs to do, but he just can’t see the point. If only he were more aware, life would be so easy for him and others.” And though this sort of awareness about our environment and its components -- people, their reactions and emotions, the weather, external events, one’s abundance or lack of assets and relationships are important, what is more crucial is internal or Self-awareness.
To be aware, one needs to be conscious or mindful of all things external and internal. The biggest deterrent to awareness is our own mind. We spend a large portion of our lives inside our minds. Give yourself five or ten minutes to observe where you are. Try and see how long you are living in reality. You will soon realise that within a few seconds, you are already gone from your present location into the deep recess of your mind, into memory, into the past or future, into emotions, and into dramas that are being played in the theatre of mind.
To become aware is not easy. That is why the Buddha said “If you can watch your breath for 60 minutes, without a moment’s distraction, you are already enlightened”. For most of us, six or 60 seconds seems impossible, what to say of 60 minutes?
Awareness begins by sitting quietly in one place and watching one’s thoughts. On an average, it has been said that about 60,000 thoughts arise in the human mind every day. So there is very limited space or time for many things that we need to do. As we watch our thoughts without getting attached to them or getting involved with them, thoughts tend to lose steam and disappear. It is attachment to thoughts that gives them energy to sustain and grow.
As we detach ourselves from our thoughts, the number of thoughts that keep coming also become less. And when the number of thoughts gets reduced at the production stage itself, then there is space and time for us to focus on the external and internal environment, and to become aware of those around us, and above all, to become more aware of ourselves. Certainly, all this requires tremendous effort and will.
Once we become aware of ourselves, our journey of Self-discovery, for Truth, for God and for bliss starts. Till such time, we are only living in our minds, believing everything the mind tells us, following up on every small and big thought that hits us, arguing, rationalising, justifying, imploring, hoping, wishing, worrying, agonising, celebrating, while life is passing by, in the real world, and we are not connected to it. We are far removed from it.
Start with a three or five minute awareness exercise today, and see where it leads you. And see how difficult it is, and see why awareness is such a difficult thing, not because of someone or something outside us, but because of our own selves.