The Choice of Living ConsciouslyOct 17, 2023
The Choice of Living Consciously
We have a choice, to live in a state of awareness, or to avoid our true self. When we choose to live consciously, we can experience life fully. We may feel hope or despair, joy or fear but we will be connected to our internal world, to other people and to the environment. It is only from that connection that we may begin to create change, healthy relationships, or a healthier body. When we choose to disconnect, we are hiding or avoiding our reality, we lose awareness of our body, our truth and our internal world. It is very unlikely that we would experience happiness from this unconscious state.
Nathaniel Branden, in The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem wrote: “To live consciously means to seek to be aware of everything that bears on our actions, purposes, values, and goals—to the best of our ability, whatever that ability may be—and to behave in accordance with that which we see and know.” How many of us live in a conscious state of awareness? Awareness about our surroundings, our emotions, about our thoughts and values? Are we conscientious in the work we do, or in the words we speak? And if we are aware of our truth, do we choose to act upon it, or do we ignore it and succumb to someone else’s truth? Being aware means that we are present in the moment, in touch with our deepest fears and desires. It means that we’re present in our bodies, conscious of our movements, our needs and our pain.
Body awareness in particular, means that our focus and attention is on our body. We become conscious of the position of our joints, the movement of our chest when we breathe, the points of contact with the floor or chair. We begin to notice the postural patterns and misalignments that may be causing pain or discomfort. By bringing our focus to the body, we can begin to move away from the sometimes chronic fight or flight response that many of us carry in our daily lives. Taking time for self-care, proper nutrition and a good sleep routine, are important practices to give the body the attention and respect it needs in order for it to return to a more relaxed state
“Self-esteem is the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life, and as being worthy of happiness” .....if it is not built over time through such practices as living consciously, self-responsibly, and with integrity, — it is not self-esteem”.
Self-esteem is the belief that we’re capable of thinking, learning and making good decisions. It's the understanding that we are beings deserving of love, friendship and happiness. It is NOT the feeling we get after a compliment, it is not narcissism or arrogance, or the feeling of satisfaction after being overly kind just to feel loved or needed. In fact, it is not a feeling at all, it is a belief that we need to nourish everyday with every decision we make. Therefore, living consciously will also help us build our self-esteem. Not only do we become aware and in touch with our thoughts, feelings and values, but we also make a conscious choice to act upon them. We hold ourselves accountable for our decisions, rather than blaming others for our circumstances. We may also become more assertive, since we have more clarity and conviction in our values. We gather facts and information on subjects related to our interests and goals and we notice and accept reality and ourselves as we are today. Acceptance, respect, assertiveness and responsibility are all virtues that will boost our self-esteem.
The Choice to Disconnect
When we look at the magnetic forces pulling our attention outwards, such as phones, social media, family requests, a job, relationships, not to mention dealing with conflict, change, loss or illness, it is no wonder that we may become disconnected and go through life without a lot of self-awareness. We get up tired, juggle caffeine and hopefully breakfast while getting ready for the day, drop kids off and get to work on time. A hectic morning and a long day brings us home to a pleasant dinner if we’re lucky, and hopefully early bedtime with not much left in us to engage in positive conversation or meditation.
Human beings innately search for connection. We crave attention, love and sharing experiences. Scientist Matthew Lieberman in his book Social wrote: “Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. When this happens in childhood it can lead to long-term health and educational problems. We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts.” This search for connection, in today’s world, may look like “being connected” to the internet. We feel that we belong to a group, that we can express whatever we want to say, we may feel validated or rejected, frustrated or excited, and no matter how negative the emotions might be, we experience a connection. Since those “fixes” are only temporary, we will unfortunately continue to crave the real deep connection.
If we continue on with these distractions long enough, we will begin to feel the magnetic forces pulling inwards forcing us to look within and make a real connection: physical pain, depression, tiredness or unhappiness about our self-image, our career or our relationships.
Past trauma that was not dealt with, may begin to show up in our posture, or manifest as pain or illness. These are signs that we need to start paying attention, acknowledge our internal world and begin to experience life with more awareness. We may find uncomfortable feelings at first, so it’s not always an easy choice. But the more moments of awareness we experience, the more we will begin to heal and feel fulfilled.
Techniques for Living Consciously
The more we involve our senses in any process, the more present and aware we will be. Some people experience this while making a delicious meal, during meditation or running. Nature has amazing healing powers, because we can smell it, hear it, see it and touch it. Taking a walk outside, going to a park and noticing everything that the natural world has to offer, has the power to make us feel like we are one with it, and it helps us connect to our inner world. It also makes that connection less scary because we can feel contained, supported and loved. The feeling of bare feet on the ground, the texture of a tree, the smell of grass or pine trees, the sound of water flowing, they all have a soothing effect that supports that connection.
We can also focus on our breath, and bring awareness to any action such as making breakfast, or driving to work.
There are also more specific techniques that help increase self-awareness, such as yoga, tai-chi and somatic movement. Interestingly, most of them begin with body and breath awareness.
At first we may experience short glimpses of connection and with practice they will last longer. At times, if past traumas get triggered, we may need the support of a counselor or psychologist to help navigate the emotions that come up.
The connection our soul is really searching for, is the one we feel when we live consciously. We have the choice, every minute, to become aware and remain connected. And if we really desire a fulfilling satisfying life, we have no other choice, but to live consciously.
Hi I'm Gabriela, born in a beach city on the Argentina coast. I enjoy time in nature and hiking in the mountains. Music feeds my soul and I'm passionate about reading books and diving deep into subjects related to health and healing.
I became a Personal trainer in the year 2000, and then moved to the US along with my father. 12 years later he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and half his body was paralyzed; we took him to the Hippocrates Institute in Florida. After two months of a raw living foods lifestyle his brain tumor disappeared and he recovered his body functions completely.
My father was unable to stick to the lifestyle long enough and he passed away a year later, not before getting to meet my newborn son, Leo.
My life, career and approach to healing changed forever. I deepened my understanding of the complex relationship between body, mind, emotions and spirituality. I studied about raw living foods, plant based nutrition, somatic movement and trauma healing. While in quarantine I took a second certification in corrective exercise and began to implement the techniques on myself with the hope of fixing a newfound pain on the right side of my body that limited my activities for almost two years.
The most valuable lesson for me has been that not one technique will fix it all. Pain has many roots in the body, and healing becomes a process of self-discovery, resilience and truth.