Developing natural awareness

Developing natural awareness

For the last year or so, I have been working to develop better skills with rest. If I am being honest, I don’t rest well. My mind is always churning with ideas, thoughts, information. Beyond ideas, I also really have to fight to quiet those inner voices of self-doubt, judgment, and fear.

As a psychologist and faculty member, I believe I am continually developing. As I have been reading and studying about mindfulness, as well as attempting the practice of meditation, I realize how much of a skill rest really is for me. I need practice with it. (Like a lot of practice!)  And sometimes it is hard to want to keep practicing something you don’t feel that great at right away.

And so I continue to work to find the right type of mindfulness strategy. Recently, I came across Diana Winston’s book, The Little book of being: Practices and guidance for uncovering your natural awareness.  And although I am not finished reading it, I noticed a few things right away that have stuck with me.

Primarily, mindfulness is one of those things that you can’t really force. You can’t push yourself too far into it, because that is the opposite of what mindfulness is meant to do. She discusses the idea of natural awareness defined as “a way of knowing and a state of being wherein our focus is on the awareness itself rather than on the things we are aware of. It is generally relaxed, effortless, and spacious. (p. 12)”

Relaxed. Effortless. And Spacious.  YES!!!  I want a double dose of that!

It made me ponder. How often does my mind feel relaxed? Effortless? Spacious?  That last one, spacious, felt like an entirely new world for me. I had never thought about wanting my mind to feel spacious. And yet, as I pondered, it really resonated with me. In a world where we are feeling crunched for time, for money, for energy – and there never seems to be enough of any of it – spaciousness sounds like a good antidote to ‘never enough’ doesn’t it??

So how do we do that?  Well, I am not an expert here, but I know for sure that it is critical to teach our kids how to rest well. Maybe that means teaching them mindfulness techniques. Seeing beauty in unusual spaces. Practicing gratitude, not just thankfulness. Or maybe that comes in the form of yoga or breathing exercises. Perhaps it is a progressive muscle relaxation. Maybe it is just sitting on the couch in the quiet of the house together.  Or even better yet, maybe it means asking them what they would like to do for rest today. You might be surprised at what you hear from them!

I want to hear from you all…what is your best technique for rest? And uncovering YOUR natural awareness?

#makewordsmatterforgood #practicerest #practicenaturalawareness

Photo Cred – Pok Rie