What is Conscious Living and Why Should We Want to Do It?
This is a rather long entry as I feel it is a very important and constructive subject for us all.
Continuing on from Part 1 of this topic, living life consciously isn’t only about living in the present moment. It isn’t only about keeping a higher purpose in mind when we practice living with awareness. Personally, I have an “awareMess” (chuckling) of my own life and our higher purpose that I am constantly trying to sort through here, that involves my belief in God in the living of life consciously.
However, even if you don’t believe in God, or a greater life as I do, certainly you can try to notice the difference between sleepwalking your way through life (unconscious) and being proactive in it (conscious). The comparison is stark. The former one feels bad or meaningless, while the latter feels vibrant and positive.
Living consciously is about waking up to the point of making plans on how to stay awake and acting on them. It is about, choosing our direction, and energizing our world, both inner and outer. It is about making conscious choices for our lives. Let’s ask ourselves, how do we want to craft our lives? What do we want to share and leave behind for people when we are not with them? What do we want to take with us, as we travel through life and even into death?
Unconscious or reactive living is easy! However, it doesn’t feel very good most of the time. In fact, it feels so gray and purposeless that it leaves many feeling depressed. In a world that caters to and takes advantage of the average person’s tendency to want everything made easy, it is very hard to change oneself. It is easier to stay in this negative cycle than to make the effort to change it.
It is simpler to take what is given to us, in work, in love, in God, in our lot in life and move, as if in a trance, through all of our experiences, never truly feeling alive or excited about possibilities. We lose time and wonder where it went. Our dreams slip away when we are not looking and we find ourselves feeling trapped with no prospects. We get fat and sick. We daydream about deeper love and friendships that we don’t have. We spend our time filling in the void with distractions rather than thinking and deciding to make life better.
This suffering, often times is this pain that can lead people to finally decide to become directors of their own destinies, instead of supporting actors, who just accept what comes along.
“Living consciously is about taking control of your life, about thinking about your decisions rather than making them without thought, about having a life that we want rather than settling for the one that befalls us.” – Leo Babauta
If we want to live happy, energized lives full of purpose, we should make the effort to change our way of operating. We can only find that it WILL be worth the effort to change our lifestyle from an unconscious one to a conscious one.
Practice Conscious Thought
The more we practice taking time out to examine ourselves or our actions, the unconscious choices that lead to wallowing in misery will dissipate. The more we recognize that our misery is just a state and not permanent, the more we can envision ourselves in a different state, a conscious one.
Examine your life and write it down. Who are you? Who do you want to be, for yourself, for others? What do you WANT to do? What do you want to leave behind as a mark, or an impression in the world?
Change your personal messages to yourself. Unconsciously we have recordings in ourselves repeating on a loop – we are not good enough, fast enough, pretty enough, wealthy enough, spiritual enough, etc. However, we are perfect! We are manifestations of energy from the universe (from God if you ask me). We exist and we make all kinds of crazy experiments with our free will. We do this to learn about life and ourselves, which often get us into trouble, but also can bring us great joy. We are energy, with creative minds, and like the Creator we can create different messages and different lives for ourselves.
So, no matter how you feel about yourself, begin to practice telling yourself that you are perfect. Tell yourself that you are every good thing that you want to be. Make a list. Determine to be this vision you can imagine of yourself. Examine everything you are, everything you react to, and why. Make a list of how you would like to act instead. Look for new ways to understand yourself, encouraging new thinking and acting in the face of old situations.
Take Conscious Actions
It takes a whole lot of effort to examine how we have been operating in our lives and the world. The actions you take next to change your habits from unconscious to conscious ones will be well worth it. They will start to take on a growth that can become intoxicating as you experience bits of positive shifts in your life. The trick will be pushing yourself until you get to that point. Believe in yourself, there is no reason not to. Really. You will get there. If you fail, just start over again. It will take eventually, with your persistence.
Steps to take towards living life consciously:
– Make time to plan and write it down. To be honest, for me, this is where the first part of the hard work comes in. Really, a specified time each week would be good for this. Choose the amount of time and day when you can make yourself sit, and write down what you want in your life (ie, good friend/family time, inspiring work, time for stimulating learning, creative development, spiritual practice, empire building, lol, whatever it is for you).
Write down everything associated with each thing you want and what you need to do about it. Start with a short time for this plan-making. Just make sure that it is short enough that you won’t put it off and not start at the time you set. You can always go longer if you want. This would be a good time to begin building your overall plan, be checking off your accomplishments, and taking stock of things still to do towards your goals. Prioritize. What is most important to you? What is working? What isn’t? Make adjustments.
– Make your new plans easier by proactively preventing things that pull you back into unconscious living. Personally, I don’t have a TV to distract me. I can catch up on the really important things on the Internet. Other examples for some folks might be to not keep certain foods in the house that can be eaten mindlessly and stock plenty of healthy substitutes instead.
If it is the computer that sucks you in, maybe turn it off completely each day and go out or exercise before you boot it up at the start of the day. Try turning off your phone for a couple hours a day and do something different, maybe something from your consciously living plan. If you are stuck in a routine of any kind that feels stagnant, try writing up a new schedule to follow and give that a try. Whatever you eliminate from your life, try to give yourself plenty of good options to replace it with.
– Procrastination is something I need to work on, as do many people – too many things need doing and time seems impossible to handle them – try doing each thing for just a few minutes a day, don’t worry about whether it gets finished because it will get done much more quickly than if you never tackle it at all.
Set aside a small time each day, whatever you can realistically make yourself commit to, in order to do a little of each of the things that have piled up. You will feel that you are taking back control and they will eventually be handled.
This technique can also be applied to learning new things. Really, 5 or 10 minutes spent regularly on something new can leave you with much greater knowledge than never doing it at all because you set an amount of time that was not realistic for yourself. This is how we fail at the things we would like to do. We set our expectations higher than our desire. Start small and the passion for things will build.
– Various other things that can be done towards this new conscious life. Keep a little notepad with you to write down some reactive behavior you noticed about yourself, or maybe to write a great idea you had for pursuing later (actually my phone note app is full of thoughts). If you stay in the house too much, plan to make yourself go out. Take a walk, or go to a poetry reading, whatever it takes. Research other peoples ideas on the subject of conscious living – the Internet is FULL of ideas on this (I discovered when I decided to write about it). I don’t have any association with Leo Batauba quoted above, as example, but his website with video programs seems sound.
Consider every action you take, as much as possible. Is it good for you? How does it affect others? Does it carry you closer to your new goals? Does it make you feel satisfied? (ie, I am sitting in bed, in the middle of my night, writing this instead of laying awake, fruitlessly running over all the things in life that AREN’T going so well – I am feeling much more content doing something that may have a good effect on others and myself). (I may go to the kitchen and consciously grab a cheese stick and consciously feel satisfied that I have no chocolate in the house to eat, lol).
– Schedule “me time” – space-out time is very important. It can be exhausting trying to be conscious all the time. Decide on a day, or a few hours, or a couple of days when you are just going to let whatever happens happen. You like to watch Martian zombies digging to the center of the earth in your favorite cult flick? Go for it – all day long, with pizza and ice cream if you must have it. Just plan to get back to your conscious plans and try to plan it so it isn’t too hard to get back to it. Maybe keep a list of your accomplishments or goals on your bathroom mirror, or a reminder on the coffee pot of some constructive thing you are in the middle of that really excites you and makes you want to get back to it.
Anyway, life is an amazing journey, or at least it can be. Most all of us have experienced the disappointment of life not being everything that we imagined it could be. The way to make sure that life is as wonderful as possible is by choosing to create it that way ourselves, through our own effort, dreams, and determination. If you want to feel invigorated, hopeful, more stress free, more effective and full of purpose, then start creating your own pathway to a consciously lived life. Make the effort to become worthy of yourself and become a light that others will want to emulate. You and those around you can only benefit from your endeavors to live life more consciously.
Music Link to enjoy: