Last night, I had a “lengthy” discussion with my husband regarding public perceptions of the words, Awareness and Self-Awareness. In his mind, both words sound like a textbook-term and also hard for the public to relate to.
Let’s take a look at definitions according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Awareness is the knowledge or perception of a situation or fact; Self-Awareness is conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
For me – as a coach, a yoga instructor, and a senior leader at a Fortune-10 company – I believe having self-awareness (knowing who you are by paying attention to self) is one of the cornerstones to improving ourselves and creating positive outcomes in our daily lives. I have seen, and observed, many executives at my company with a profound level of awareness of their strengths, weaknesses, and emotions. These executives are able to channel their own leadership traits and feelings to increase team productivity, as well as people’s morale, while continuing to simultaneously improve themselves.
I have been developing my own awareness through a combination of yoga, meditation, and coaching.
- Yoga is a physical and mental philosophy I use to develop my physical awareness
- Meditation is a practice I use to become more mindful through silence and breathing
- Coaching is a verbal and goal-and-outcome driven methodology to discover who I am and where I want to be
You can create awareness in many ways in life. For example, you can take a quiet walk in the forest and observe the sounds and smells of trees and flowers. You can take a 5-minute walk and observe the frequency and depth of your breathing. Or, you can simply watch your favorite movie and observe your emotions and reactions to your favorite scenes.
If you like to try out any of the methodologies I use to increase awareness by paying attention to yourself try the following and observe yourself:
- Yoga: Try Nostril Breathing for 10 breaths on each side, and followed by 3 sets of Downward Facing Dog pose. Observe how you body reacts to these techniques. Do you feel a change in your heart rate and blood flow? Are your muscles stretching and relieving tension?
- Meditation: Try breath-counting meditation for 5 minutes. Sit on a comfortable chair with straight spine. Close your eyes. Take a few slow breaths through your nose, before you begin counting. Count “one” after one set of inhaling and exhaling slowly through your nose. Count “two” for the following set and continue for five sets. Then, begin a new cycle of 5 sets of inhalations and exhalations for 5 minutes. Observe how your mind reacts to the silence of breathing; what thoughts, if any, come into your mind?
- Coaching: Ask yourself two questions, “What milestone would you like to achieve this year?” “On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest), how close are you to this goal?” Contemplate your answer and assess where you are relative to this goal/milestone.
I would love to hear your thoughts on self-awareness. Please let me know your observations on those methods I shared above.