When you become mindful of yourself (formal practice on the cushion) and your reactions (informal practice during your day) you begin to notice how you react to external and internal stimuli. A space opens up and you are able to explore what is happening inside of you before anything actually happens outside of you. You are exploring the resources of your own inner landscape This conscious knowledge of inner sources (quick temper, stubborness, sadness, negativity, grief) can be cultivated into resources (energy, patience, sensitivity) that provide you with an opportunity to understand you have resources and to get in touch with what it is to feel sufficient unto yourself. What you feel as sufficiency on the inside is what is seen as resiliency on the outside.
Awareness of Self-Sufficiency (inside) = Resiliency (outside)
When you take the time to notice your own reactions to different situations during your day: dropping a coffee cup, walking to a meeting, waiting in line – you are practicing awareness.
Awareness is the ability to know your own mind. But to know your own mind you have to pause long enough (seconds) in your day to notice what your mind is doing. So for example, you start reading a page in a book and you get to the end and – whammo – you realise you have no idea what you just read.
That whammo – when you realise your mind was just. not. present. That is a moment of awareness.
When you sit down at a table with your coffee cup and you take that first sip of warm liquid and you look outside to see the sparkle of sunlight as it lands on the chrome fender of a bicycle and see a dog walking by on the sidewalk with its tail wagging and you realise – whammo – I. Am. Happy. This too is a moment of awareness.
Without awareness you cannot manage your own mind. You don’t even know you have a mind. You are like a driver trying to steer a car without a steering column. You keep turning the wheel this way (I need to do more work) and that (I need another snack, another drink to relax) but your vehicle is not under your control. You think it is. You think it should be. But it isn’t.
Not fun. Lots of stress. Damage happens. Blood even. Hospital stay.
And you are not even aware you cannot steer. You do not understand your own vehicle.
Once you start the practice of mindfulness you start to notice your own mind – anytime of day or night – whenever you remember to notice (this is why it’s called practice). You begin to learn where your mind is – what it is thinking, where it is going, and what it wants. This is when you start to know your own mind.
And knowing your own mind is powerful.