Today at the Man Alive retreat led by Jonathan Faust, he was talking about training our awareness and I thought of it as a muscle of self-awareness. How in shape is that muscle? Do we regularly train it?
We understand the basics of training our body, the need to be aware of our diet, to have a regular training practice, to have a group of others to train with as motivation and support and to have an experienced trainer to help us when we have soreness, injury, etc.
For many of us as men, these basic ingredients of a successful physical training regime have been part of our daily life for many years. We make time to go to the gym, to hit the weights, to take a morning run, we see it as an essential part of our lives.
What would happen if we treated our “muscle of self-awareness” the same way? How powerful could that muscle become? What if we spent five minutes a day simply being aware of our actions and thoughts. I didn’t say meditating or sitting on a cushion cross legged in the corner with incense and gongs (not that these are not great things).
But I’m talking about simply being aware of our physical sensations, aware of our thoughts, aware of our feelings. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about a car meditation:
Before starting the car,I know where I am going.The car and I are one.If the car goes fast, I go fast.If we are mindful when we start our car, we will know how to use it properly. When we are driving, we tend to think of arriving, and we sacrifice the journey for the sake of the arrival. But life is to be found in the present moment, not in the future.
What about an e-mail awareness?
Before I open my e-mail account,
I am aware of what I am reading,
I am aware of what I am writing,
I am aware of my breath.
Or phone awareness?
Before I answer this phone call,
I am aware that my breath is ______,
I am aware that my words matter,
I am aware that my silence matters.
Any of these daily activities are simply another opportunity to exercise that muscle just a little bit more.
The five minute a day awareness challenge.
What shape will you be in if you try it?