Awareness 101: How To Be Self-Aware

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Meditation and any mysticism attached to it is simply self-awareness

  • Meditation uses hypnotism, which is any action that focuses your attention
    • Relax and focus on your breathing
    • Repeat a phrase over and over
    • Pray a mantra repeatedly or read something positive
    • Listen to calming music or fixate on familiar music
    • Go for a walk or some other physical exercise
  • Though it’s used in religious groups, it’s not actually religious and everyone needs to do it
    • Many people add elements to it to over-spiritualize it
    • Though it has spiritual qualities, it is more connected to the mind’s awareness than a spiritual connection
  • The point of meditation is to slow down your thoughts until they are no longer rushing by
    • This can best be thought of as an inventory or audit of the current state of things
    • It is a moment-by-moment perspective, not a matter of spirituality or transcendence

There are many senses beyond the 5 popular ones, which are all part of consciousness

  • Acceleration, direction, gravity, changes in body movement – inner ear and sensors in the skeleton
  • Bitterness – taste buds in mouth
  • Body organ pain – sensors in organs
  • Bone and joint pain – sensors in the skeleton
  • Brightness – rods in eyes
  • Color – cones in eyes
  • Drugs/hormones – chemoreceptors in the brain
  • Hunger – stomach sensors
  • Itchiness – sensors on skin
  • Magnetic fields and sense of direction – sensors in brain
  • Muscle tension – sensors in muscles
  • Orientation of self in relationship to other body parts – sensors in the skeleton
  • Pain on the skin – sensors on skin
  • Pressure – sensors on skin
  • Saltiness – taste buds in mouth
  • Smell – sensors inside nose
  • Sound – vibration sensors in eardrums
  • Sourness – taste buds in mouth
  • Stretching in digestive and respiratory systems – sensors that detect blood vessel dilation
  • Sweetness – taste buds in mouth
  • Temperature – sensors on skin
  • Thirst – water sensors
  • Time – debated, but amazingly accurate
  • Touch – sensors on skin
  • Umami (savoriness) – taste buds in mouth
  • Vomiting reflex – chemoreceptors in the brain

Meditation is a specific technique

  1. Let the perceptions throughout the meditation come naturally as they flow in and out of perception
    • Don’t try to scale it down
      • Don’t block the feelings from coming
      • Don’t push them away as a separate part of you out of shame or self-hatred
    • On the other hand, don’t try to intensify it
      • Don’t hold onto the feeling like it’s necessary to make sense of things
      • Don’t increase it to try to get through it faster
    • Don’t act on the emotion
      • Avoid doing anything out of the natural sense of urgency that will come
  2. Feel your present state physically
    • Get into a comfortable position and relax your body, one body part at a time
    • Breathe slowly and “release” the stress
    • Let the force of gravity act on you into a natural state
    • Focus on breathing and its individual components until it is fully recognized and accepted
      • It can help to slow the breathing to increase oxygenation and relaxation
        1. Inhale for 4 seconds
        2. Hold your lungs full for 4 seconds
        3. Exhale for 4 seconds
        4. Hold your lungs empty for 4 seconds
    • After breathing, focus on anything else as they come into perspective, since breathing is simply a starting point
      • Look at the world around you, but as simply as a perspective instead of something proven real
      • Observe everything as a matter of experience or perspective, not as anything that is or isn’t
    • Close your eyes to drown out most of your perspectives
  3. Become mindfully aware of yourself and your thoughts
    • Become aware of the feelings in the face or head
    • Become aware of the thoughts as they slowly move through your mind
      • Don’t attach any judgments or extra thoughts to them
        • Start looking at the thoughts like they are objects  to be slowly and carefully examined
    • Start paying attention to emotions
      • Recognize the emotions as illusions and simply present in your mind
      • Let the emotions’ changes transition and observe the feelings as they change
        • Focus on other times that you’ve felt different than the current moment
      • Observe the body’s reactions to the emotions
      • Observe other feelings you have at the same time you’re feeling a particular feeling
        • Pay attention to the feelings that come out from those feelings
      • Look at the body’s reactions to the feelings
    • Open up your eyes and watch the feelings and thoughts flood back in
      • This is simply a perspective, not reality
  4. Become aware of the world around you
    • Visualize something familiar like a household object
    • Observe how that visualization is created by our mind, but just as real to us as everything else from our imaginations
    • Relax that portion of the mind until the world is nothing but its raw information
    • Intentionally forget about the objects or their boundaries or rules and focus only on the data
    • Increase the awareness until it expands beyond what you see
      • Pay attention to other sensations like sounds or smells, and incorporate that into the view
      • Make consciousness a single experience
    • Observe the conscious self and identify where “you” are in the center of the experience, or if that experience even exists
  5. Start paying attention to thoughts as they arise, before they actually arise
    • Look at where the thoughts are coming from and where they go
    • We often look at our thoughts like we are the thinker of the thoughts, but we can’t prove that
    • Dwell on what is truly certain and what is truly uncertain
    • Accept that emotions and thoughts are not necessarily who you are
      • Focus in on specific thoughts, such as a familiar friend’s face or a specific smell of a particular plant
    • Accept that the constant flow of thoughts is outside of your own identity and self

Work to improve yourself in every way only from this state of awareness

  • There are many benefits to self-awareness
    • Allows putting away any thoughts that are negative, deconstructive, harmful or useless
    • Shows critical hot-points where addictions or triggers may reside
  • Self-awareness is necessary to think rationally and analyze
    • We cannot predict others or the world around us if we aren’t aware of ourselves
    • If we have emotional reactions to our thoughts, we stop thinking about it
  • There are ways to improve your overall wellness once you’ve become more self-aware
    • Talk to yourself and have a conversation with yourself
    • Say to yourself “I have the feeling of ___” instead of “I am ___”
    • Don’t judge your feeling and be willing to experience it
    • Learn to radically accept all of your feelings as a unique part of who you are that are best explored in certain contexts
  • Try cross-referencing new experiences with old experiences
    • Review stories later on in your life to see how your perspective has changed
    • Listen to past music to see your old mentalities

By improving self-awareness, your natural needs will be met more readily

  • Physical needs, which are necessary for survival and a base sense of wellness
    • Food, which can range from simple hunger to a specific nutritional need
    • Water, always necessary for survival
    • Shelter from the elements and protection against attack
  • Internal psychological needs, which can often be met by the self but are defined completely by one’s will
    • The need for happiness and pleasure
    • The need to feel in control
    • The need to feel risk
    • The need to be challenged or inspired
    • The need to feel safe, at peace or comfortable
    • The need to emotionally release through crying, rage or venting
    • The need to have evidence of growing or improving
    • The need to be certain about things and to know something for sure
    • The need to have something to work towards, look forward to or be a part of
  • External psychological needs, which are usually social and can only be met by others
    • The need to belong to and be accepted by a group or affiliation
    • The need to be nurtured and supported by others
    • The need to be valued and cherished by others
    • The need to be respected by others
    • The need to be empathized with and have others identify with
    • The need to be encouraged by others’ behaviors
    • The need to be noticed and to be the temporary center of attention
    • The need to love others and connect with them
    • The need for a connected state with a greater universal purpose than interests of self or others

These needs vary, but everyone has all of them in some way

  • If psychological needs are not met over a prolonged period of time, everyone will fall into an existential crisis:
    • Things that were seen as common or mundane are now seen as bizarre
    • Severe anxiety from the realization of how much personal choices have limited possibilities
    • Heightened awareness of death and mortality
    • Awareness of the fact that major life decisions can be pre-planned
    • Dread upon realizing that no decisions can be appropriately premeditated
  • Over our lives, we create a “center” that becomes the perceived source of those needs

Without self-awareness, we let fear guide our lives

  • This is not uncommon, and entire societies can become very irrational over many ridiculously improbable things:
    • Attacked by a shark – 1 in 300,000,000
    • Injury by roller coaster – 1 in 300,000,000
    • Contracting mad cow disease – 1 in 40,000,000
    • Death by food poisoning – 1 in 3,000,000
    • Struck by lightning – 1 in 2,300,000
    • Death by constipation – 1 in 2,215,900
    • Injury by spider’s bite – 1 in 716,010
    • Injury by meteorite – 1 in 700,000
    • Death from drowning in a bathtub – 1 in 685,000
    • Winning an Olympic medal – 1 in 662,000
    • Getting a royal flush in poker – 1 in 649,740
    • Death by fireworks – 1 in 615,488
    • Death by tsunami – 1 in 500,000
    • Death by asteroid impact – 1 in 500,000
    • Death by choking on food – 1 in 370,000
    • Bitten by dog – 1 in 147,717
    • Death by spousal murder – 1 in 135,000
    • Death by earthquake – 1 in 131,890
    • Death by venomous bite or sting – 1 in 100,000
    • Death by skydiving accident – 1 in 100,000
    • Death by terrorist attack – 1 in 88,000
    • Death by lightning strike – 1 in 83,930
    • Injury by falling, jumping or being pushed from a high place – 1 in 65,092
    • Death by tornado – 1 in 60,000
    • Death by legal execution – 1 in 58,618
    • Death from playing American football – 1 in 50,000
    • Death by floods (#1 natural disaster) – 1 in 30,000
    • Injury from fireworks – 1 in 20,000
    • Death by air trouble accident – 1 in 20,000
    • Finding a pearl in an oyster – 1 in 12,000
    • Getting a perfect score of 300 in bowling – 1 in 11,500
    • Injury by toilet – 1 in 10,000
    • Death by drowning – 1 in 6,162
    • Death by electrocution – 1 in 5,000
    • Getting a hole in one in golf – 1 in 5,000
    • Death by bicycle accident – 1 in 4,717
    • Injury while mowing lawn – 1 in 3,623
    • Death by any natural forces – 1 in 3,357
    • Injury by firearm – 1 in 2,500
    • Death by fire or smoke (~50% from smoke) – 1 in 1,454
    • Complications from medical or surgical care – 1 in 1,170
    • Assault by firearm – 1 in 358
    • Death by being murdered – 1 in 300
    • Accidental poisoning (includes drugs, alcohol & vapors) – 1 in 281
    • IRS audit – 1 in 250
    • Death by falling down – 1 in 246
    • Victim of assault – 1 in 214
    • Having identity stolen – 1 in 200
    • Death by intentional self-harm – 1 in 121
    • Death by motor vehicle accident – 1 in 113
    • Death by accidental injury (all accidents) – 1 in 36
    • Death by stroke – 1 in 23
    • Death by cancer – 1 in 7
    • Death by heart disease – 1 in 5
    • Death by hayflick limit – ~125 years
  • The reason this fear guides us is because not all negative mental states yield negative results
    • Fearful people are more inclined to focus on safety, which can reduce risk at times
    • Distrustful people often focus on others’ faults, which can protect them from dangerous people sometimes
    • A fear of loss increases productivity that directly connects to that fear
    • Any of these actions can create results that reinforce that our mental state is a good and effective way to live

To be a loving person, we need to look at others the way we see ourselves

  • It is impossible to love others beyond ourselves, since we incapable of perceiving others’ needs more than our own
  • Love covers all of these needs through extending personal need-meeting across to someone else
    • This is why self-awareness along with awareness of others’ mental state is necessary to be a loving person
Next: How To Analyze Correctly