Are You CALM? Consciously Aware Living in the Moment
One of the most valuable life skills is the ability to live in this world and not be affected by it. We likely have experienced this in every aspect of our lives. To be part of the outer world and not be disturbed, distracted or stupefied by it, remaining calm and focused, requires mastery over our drives and desires. More important, we need mastery over that which fuels these drives, namely, our fears.
One of the principal remedies found in all healing traditions is to train the mind to be stress-less, unaffected by the outside world.. In other words, not be in the fight or flee mode no matter what. Even western medicine’s reductionist approach to dealing with disease, acknowledges that stress causes a series of physiological events to occur and when left unchecked leads to disease. The solution to the problem however, does vary whereas, ancient models work with the whole organism by way of lifestyle and the Western model mainly relies on a magic pill leading to a more embedded problem later down the road.
As I mention in my book, Feeling Good Matters: The Yoga of Mind, Medicine, and Healing, to Remain CALM (Consciously Aware of Living in the Moment) gives us the opportunity to recognize what motivates our responses to certain circumstances and people and not to others. When we become aware of our feelings and thoughts we have the opportunity to literally remain calm even in the most tumultuous environments.
Awareness is the key here and we know that awareness is the key to maintaining balance and to heal means to make whole, in other words, bring ourselves back into balance. Awareness allows us to gain access to the inner core of our being. It helps us untie those knots that bind our heart and keep us in a disheartened state. By bringing mindfulness into focus, we gain access to the light that dwells deep within – pure awareness. All of this can happen only when we truly remain calm.
Here I am defining calm as being in that state of awareness, and in that state, we become the witness ‑ the one who is the observer, not the object of observation nor the process of observation itself. Pure awareness implies the observer is the one who is doing the breathing, thinking, listening ‑ not to be mistaken for the object (in this case, the body or brain) nor the process (carried out by the mind).
Bring Mindfulness into Focused Awareness
Our next blog will be on meditation, but I want to address mindfulness and awareness more fully. Mindfulness is a popular word today, but I prefer to use the word awareness since it encompasses more than mindfulness. It’s one thing to be mindful of the world around us, our senses, our feelings, our thought constructs, even our immediate environment but there comes a point when we need to decide what we want to be mindful of. For example, we’ll always have thoughts and sensory impressions of living in the world. And it’s important to be mindful of what’s going on around us. But do we want our life to be spent watching all the outside influences that may come to mind? Probably not, because it can feel like a merry-go-round.
A strategy to get started
Bring your mindfulness into focus creating the awareness by deciding what you want to be mindful of. I have my students and clients focus on the space at their eyebrow center. I introduced you to what I call “The Lift” in Feeling Good Matters. When people are mindful of their thoughts in a stressful situation, I tell them to focus on their breath and lift their awareness to be the observer of the thought, not the thought itself. This works very well when someone is aware that the mind is having a negative dialogue. It prevents the mind’s distraction and disturbance that come from manas or sensory mind.
What else is needed to get started? Determination is the first ingredient; we must have a resolve to want change. With determination comes discipline – the act of following through on what we want to accomplish within our capacity. Knowing our capacity is integral to success, and that comes from a comfortable daily routine. Such a routine serves as an inner anchor to create stability while building confidence and trust in our inner capacity.
As I mentioned above, we also need the discrimination that will enable us to detach from the associations that disturb us. That doesn’t translate as being dispassionate, rather it means to have the discriminatory capacity to differentiate between what’s real and not. It is best not to identify things of the world as being real because they’re in a constant state of fluctuation. One day, someone likes you, the next day, not so much. To identify with the concerns of others makes us subject to the ups and downs of external influences.
The self-confidence and dynamic energy that we acquire from our practices help to fuel the fire of trust. Trust comes from recognizing that we’re in control of our own being – not others. When we learn to focus our attention by lifting ourselves above the situation, we gain trust. As we begin to see how just removing our identification of others’ happenings changes the perception, we lift ourselves to new levels of awareness. When our mind becomes detached from the noise it creates, we can get access to our intuitive powers, which enable us to see clearly and operate accordingly from our inner core.
As we continue to be drawn outward, you must be skillful if you are going to maintain your health. My advice is to pay attention to what you are doing and do not take your human life for granted. Be aware and train your mind to stay focused.
Because the energy of the mind is the essence of life.