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Are YOU really aware?

“If we are too busy, if we are carried away every day by our projects, our uncertainty, our craving, how can we have the time to stop and look deeply into the situation – our own situation, the situation of our beloved one, the situation of our family and of our community, and the situation of our nation and of the other nations?”   Thich Nhat Hanh

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Are YOU really aware of life and all that it offers? Do you ever step back and look at things from a different perspective? Do you ever observe the things you do and question why you are doing these things? True awareness is being able to observe and understand life as an impartial viewer. Awareness may be a strange concept to the uninitiated; those who have been running on the treadmill of life may not comprehend such a concept as awareness. Put briefly, awareness is simply the ability to perceive, feel or to be conscious of events and circumstances that impact our lives.

Let’s look at the different levels of awareness we encounter in our daily lives. Firstly, there is the physical world in which we live. Things like the house we live in and all that goes with it; furniture, lighting, carpets and all the collectables we have accumulated. Then outside your residence there is another layer of the environment in which you live. This includes our neighbours, the  neighbourhood and the surrounding area in which we live. Further afield there is the environment that we know is there but cannot see. Then added to this we have nature and all those things we take for granted on a daily basis, like air, water, the biosphere, wind, rain, light, temperature, humidity and a multitude of animals and plant species. For most of us, not all, we are trapped in our own world making sure that everything runs smoothly and our lives tick along. Our awareness only extends to our immediate life.

???????????????????????????????For the most part, awareness of our physical world is about being in the moment and experiencing the now. It is not about being on auto pilot and doing things out of habit. Buddhist and Zen masters spend many years focusing and practicing specific activities to help build present moment awareness. You can practice too. It is really quite simple. Every time you do something, be aware of what you are doing. Let’s say you are washing up the dishes by hand after the evening meal. Practice being completely aware of what you are doing. Feel the temperature of the water, feel the weight of the dishes, the texture and the action of the water as you scrub the dishes with your hands.

A famous Zen fable highlights this present moment awareness. The student asks the master “what is enlightenment?” the master responds, “wash up your dish”. We take this simple exercise of washing the dishes for granted. We are on auto pilot and just going through the motions, doing things mechanically. Yet this simple exercise shows us that so many of the things we do in life end up becoming mechanical. Our entire existence can become mechanical if we let it. We just cruise through life on auto pilot. We have to re-engage with life and experience life and all it has to offer by being in the moment and enjoying the process. We can find happiness and joy in doing almost anything, even in something that seems mundane. The pleasure can be found in the awareness of doing and witnessing each moment for what it is, at its simplest level.

Article by Andrew Martin taken from his book One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…

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