Do you feel that you are drifting through life without a clear direction? Do you find yourself constantly putting out fires or struggling to get what you need while feeling frustrated and stressed in the process? Do you often find yourself wasting time doing trivial things rather than using your time for the things most important to you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will benefit from practicing conscious living.
What is Conscious Living?
Conscious living is the process of becoming aware of your habitual thoughts, feelings and actions and changing those which no longer serve you. By emptying your mind of automatic, mindless chatter and becoming aware and conscious of what you are feeling, thinking and doing, you can get back in the driver's seat and proactively run your life, instead of life running you.
With conscious living, you practice being truly present in the moment, cultivating awareness rather than obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. You begin to live your life on purpose, rather than allowing life to happen to you in a random and barely-noticed blur.
Why Do I Need to Practice Conscious Living?
Conscious living is vital to having a high quality of life by virtue of the sheer power of the human mind. Your mind, by way of your thoughts and feelings, creates your reality 24 hours a day - whether you like it or not. An unconscious mind attracts things into your experience in an automatic way, seldom bringing you what you really want. A conscious mind, however, is aware and alert, and creates from a place of intention, bringing to you exactly the life experience you choose.
You can think of your mind as a high performance race car. It can either be a tool to get you to the finish line in a fun and exhilarating way, or it can be a dangerous machine, causing you to crash and burn so badly that you never again want to get behind the wheel.
Racing mindlessly through your day on 'cruise control' with unclear intentions and a lead foot is akin to driving the race car of your mind with a dirty windshield, questionable brakes and a wobbly steering wheel. You may be able to get it rolling, but as soon as you hit the first bump in the road, everything goes to hell in a hand basket with no way to get back on course.
Conscious living helps you to better focus and control the power of your mind. It gives you a solid steering wheel and fresh brake pads for that powerful machine, and clears off the windshield, so to speak, so you can see where you’re headed. This allows you to live proactively with intention, rather than reactively with tension.
Living consciously can also lift you out of the mire of daily happenstance and help you see solutions to challenges that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
How Do I Get Started with Conscious Living?
Though many people have heard about the importance of harnessing the power of their minds, most are unsure how to make the shift from reactional, unconscious living to intentional, conscious living. If you find yourself wondering where to start, try my simple Conscious Living Exercise to build awareness, solidify your intentions and put stress in perspective. In this exercise, you will ask yourself three questions:
What are my intentions?
What’s the lesson in this?
What am I grateful for?
Then, follow these steps to witness the magic of these simple questions:
1. Grab a small notebook or notepad. On the cover, write “conscious living” or some other word or phrase that will remind you of the overall intention of your writings. Use this notebook only for this exercise, and refer to it at least twice a day; in the morning upon waking, and just before going to bed at night. It helps to keep your notebook on your nightstand or close to where you sleep so you will remember to use it.
2. On each of the first three pages, write down one of the three questions; what are my intentions? What's the lesson in this? What am I grateful for?
3. Each morning, write out your intentions or goals for the day on the “what are my intentions?” page. Underneath each intention, write down small, measurable things you can do that will move you toward your goals.
4. Each evening just before bed, write down things that you recognize as a learning experience on the “what's the lesson in this?” page. These could be things we typically view as 'negative', such as a business meeting that went badly, having an accident because you were rushing around, an argument you had with your spouse over something small, or the like. Write down what happened, and what you feel you learned from the situation. You may have to come back at a later date when you are better able to see what benefit came from a seemingly negative situation, so always leave room to write even if you can't find the lesson right away.
5. Finally, before you shut off your light and turn in, shift your focus to gratitude. Write down everything positive from your day on the “what am I grateful for?” page. This could be activities you really enjoyed, something you happily checked off your intention list from that morning, a great meal, a big day in sales or just a chance to wake up and live another day. This will help you get in touch with a feeling of gratitude, which will attract to you more and more things to be grateful for. Focusing on gratitude right before you fall asleep turbo charges this magnetic effect, as we tend to stay in the mind state we held right before sleep well into the night. This part of the exercise will also help you get in touch with what you truly want in life, which many of us lose sight of in the daily grind of responsibilities, obligations and stress.
6. Lather, rinse, repeat! To receive tangible benefits, do this exercise daily, and refer back to your “what's the lesson in this?” pages often. You will find that in time, any seemingly negative event has a lesson or some other positive aspect that is not easy to recognize in the emotional storm that often blows in at the time of the event.
Answering these questions each day helps cultivate awareness; awareness of where you are, where you want to be, and of what action you need to take to move toward your goals. Using this tool, you live with direction and learn from your mistakes, rather than crashing around randomly hoping for the luck of the draw.
Regaining control with conscious living empowers you to direct your own life, and gives you confidence in your ability to attract what you want, rather than what you don't want. Conscious living brings a sense of peace and purpose that doesn’t exist when you arbitrarily stumble around with blinders on wondering what just happened.
Living consciously with your eyes open, you will find it easier to see the big picture and the broader purpose of life. The challenges you face in the daily grind begin to pale in comparison to the gratitude you feel for having yet another day to grow and experience being alive, and to steer your race car exactly where you want it to go, crossing the finish line victorious, with a big smile on your face.
I invite you to switch off the 'automatic pilot' so that you may consciously choose your life path, rather than just settling for whatever you get by default. Do your Conscious Living Exercise daily for the next 90 days, and please do share your story when your dreams become reality!
Carisa Holmes is a holistic health advocate, Reiki practitioner and author based in Columbus, Ohio. Carisa has worked in the holistic health and natural beauty fields for nearly 10 years.
Through overcoming a plethora of personal health issues and working with clients, Carisa has developed a clear understanding of the functions of the physical body as well as the more subtle layers of the human energy field.
In her practice, Carisa helps empower people to move toward higher levels of wellness. Using tools such as whole food, natural skin care and powerful yet gentle Reiki, Carisa helps clients lose weight without starving themselves, heal sickness and injury, increase energy levels and feel more calm, happy and alive.
Carisa is very grateful for the many things she has learned and is eager to share them with others. Carisa writes a health and wellness column for GrapeVine Columbus Diversity News Source and maintains a private practice in the Columbus, Ohio area.