Self Awareness and Mindfulness

by: John Doidge

Self awareness and mindfulness enable us to be a self dependent and confidently and morally able to control our actions. Together they give us wisdom. Mindfulness training and techniques develop our analytical awareness to complement our subjective self awareness to complete this wisdom.

If we think carefully there are subtle differences between self awareness and mindfulness. Self awareness gives us an understanding of what we are doing, of our strengths and weaknesses, of our likes and dislikes, of our personality, of our emotions. It is subjective. Mindfulness gives us realisation and recall. It is a form of awareness, but is analytical giving us observation without judgement. It is objective.

Our world today is developing rapidly and our minds may be racing to keep up with it. Consequently our self aware thinking is also trying to keep up. We need this, but we also need to be aware of the emotional pressures induced by subjectivity and whether we are equipped to deal with them. We can feel emotions. We know what we are feeling, but, does our self awareness tell us why? If we do not self realise the why, the emotional thinking may inhibit us from action through fear created by over judgement of our feelings. We must avoid letting in any such negative thinking. If we do not control our selves we cannot control our actions that define our destiny.

We need a balance to complete our wisdom. We need a step back, wait a moment, analytical view. The mindfulness concept originates from Buddhism. Whether considered an art or science it gives us a presence in the moment using knowledge from recall and realisation to assess that moment without judgement. Just get the facts!

While the concept is simple, implementing it is challenging and requires self discipline. It requires a focussed attention on the moment you are experiencing without passing judgment based on any subjective thoughts or feelings. Unemotionally observe what is happening both in your mind and externally.

Mindfulness training describes the mind as a machine for judgement. It is our nature that we form instant judgements on situations. It is often said that we assess a new contact within the first few seconds. This is a legacy from our prehistory where constant struggles of life and death resulted in a need for snap fight or flight decisions. Nowadays it is emotion that is more prevalent in forming judgements on experiences, defining them as good or bad. While neutral feelings exist they are not uppermost in our attention as they do not feed the emotions. Mindfulness encourages us to observe all things with the same level of attention but without passing judgement.

This attitude gives us a refreshed clean mind that is rational in its actions as it is uninfluenced by other factors. An example is shown by the following mindfulness exercise: The next time you meet some one you know try to see him or her through fresh eyes. Try to suspend all of your existing knowledge, thoughts and opinions. Try it with family members, close friends and colleagues. Do you see them differently, removing previous possibly inaccurate concepts?

One of the most important benefits of mindfulness in terms of personal contentment and success comes from the realisation that you are thinking something that is unhelpful or unrealistic, something negative. Mindfulness means learning to experience your thoughts without passing judgement with emotion but instead assessing the realism of the experience. Many of the negative thoughts you experience when you are emotionally upset tend to be distorted and unhelpful. So let these thoughts go, identifying them as natural symptoms of a particular emotional state, replacing them with thoughts of just determining the fact. Thoughts and emotions work together. The sooner you come to the point where you can view them objectively the better your personal feelings will become.

Increasing your familiarity with the thoughts that enter your head when you feel depressed will make it easier for you to recognise them as emotions rather than facts. Once you have become familiar with the dark side of emotions you are further equipped to cope, manage and remove negative thoughts in reality.

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