Self-awareness is the first step towards transformation. But how does one gain self-awareness?
Many different therapies and healers integrate various techniques to achieve such. In my own search for self-awareness, I came across an article titled “Body Awareness: a phenomenological inquiry into the common ground of mind-body therapies” by Mehling, et al. (2011). In this work, the authors reiterate the importance of repetition by saying:
“All of the healing approaches have in common that they are practices, and, for the practice to be effective therapeutically, it has to be learned by the patient. This learning requires training and repetition.”
In any Upright Kinetics program you’ll undergo a full mind-body awakening after a decent amount of repetitions. Many of our exercises will reveal a flaw, creating awareness of your imbalances and maladaptations. Change requires repetition. Performing reps that respect your threshold train the body to unlearn and relearn patterns. Not every repetition is going to be perfect, but over the course of hours of training, you build on the awareness that then becomes second nature.
And that’s why they say PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.
Other means to cultivate self awareness:
Before, during, and after exercises and activities practice scanning your body head to toe. Methodically work your way down your body looking for sensations and collecting information on your body. Welcome anything you notice without judgment or meaning. Whatever information you sense should be perceived as merely that: information. From there, start a conversation with yourself. There is no right or wrong way to describe what your body is trying to say to you. You don’t even need to vocalize, but rather be in the moment, in yourself. Even if you feel unsure, keep repeating and going through the motion.
Connect Breath to Movement
We take breathing for granted despite it being essential to our existence. Taking time to connect with your breath is the most primal form of self-awareness. Experience the sensations of breath. Imagine the path of airflow. It slowly moves into our body, pauses for exchange and exits even slower than it entered. Connecting our movements to our decelerated breath will then slow down our movements and open self-awareness.
All humans possess the capacity for embodiment, to integrate the physical, mental and emotional selves. “… And a big part of it is connection through the breath and connection with movement and breath to make that connection with the mind and eventually quieting the mind to give them greater connection with their self.” (Mehling et al., 2011)
Trust in Your Innate Ability to Embodiment
Embodiment is the integration of the mind and body. This is something we are all capable of achieving.
Working your attention muscle has tremendous benefits. Instead of ruminating about chronic pain, you pay attention to it, become one with the momentous feeling and the experience is much more pleasant than the alternative.
Embodiment teachings states, “How I feel about sensation in my body is different. It used to cause some panic in me if there was any discomfort. And I don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that I have terminal cancer if my knee hurts…. So it’s nice to have a little bit of space between the sensation and the emotional sort of reaction to it.” (Mehling et al., 2011).
Viktor Frankl, a neurologist and psychiatrist, famously once said, “between stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies our power to choose. And in our choice lies our growth and our freedom”. It is in this space that our self-awareness lives. Once we become aware of ourselves, we can stop simply reflexively reacting to the world around us. Instead, we can learn to recognize our patterns of behavior, and pause and say, “Oh, that’s what that is?” This moment of pause is what will give us the power to choose how to respond to various stimuli and grow into more mindful individuals. We all have the tools to become more aware through our bodies, breath, and attention. It is a matter of using these tools and repetitively practicing their use until it becomes a habit.