Updated: Jun 2
Up until a few years ago, the words consciousness and awareness had no real value or meaning for me. Sure, I had heard of them and, for the most part, I associated them to be one and the same. They had no real significance for me and felt more like psychological abstraction and jargon more so than measures of overall well-being.
Today, on the other hand, I not only value them but also deem them to be key determinants of a person’s ability to feel a sense of control or agency in their lives. If agency is said to refer to the human capability to influence one’s functioning and course of events through one’s actions, then surely one must possess an ability to self-regulate in order to feel a sense of control in one’s life. The modern-day experience, which is fraught with a myriad of distractions, ranging from the steady stream of phone calls, e-mails, text messages and notifications, and social media news feeds, has really put our ability to concentrate and maintain a sense of control over our lives to the utmost test.
If distractions do anything, it is to divert your attention to your desired areas of focus. So, this begs the question, how can we be intentional over not allowing the digital overwhelm from sabotaging our lives and hindering our ability to maintain a high degree of concentration and focus, while negating any true path towards intentionality and self-regulation?
Well, this takes us right back to those two keywords: consciousness and awareness.
There are several available definitions for the word consciousness and stemming from numerous branches of knowledge, from psychology to neuroscience, but the one that I find to be the most comprehensive defines it as the ability of the brain to make sense of input data through cognition and emotion combined with awareness. Awareness, on the other hand, is the brain’s ability to process real-world data through sensory input (visuals, sounds, touch, and smell) as well as the ability to perceive (notice thoughts, emotions, objects, etc.).
Another way to define consciousness is as awareness plus mind and the structures of the individual brain whereas awareness is essentially knowledge by being. Since awareness is a component of an individual’s consciousness, if you lack awareness then you are unconscious. So, whether it be a byproduct of digital distraction or the overwhelm induced by the modern lifestyle or perhaps due to a dissociative state between mind and body due to unresolved traumatic experiences in one’s life, being unconscious of pervasive thought patterns and patterned behavior is less than optimal to your wellbeing and bound to lead to physiological issues that can lead to inflammation and disease.
One can have stressors in life that can lead to mental, emotional, and physical symptoms but it is the pervasive anxiety or the constant sensation of anticipated harm that does the most harm in the long term. This is where the practice of meditation comes into play in combatting the modern stressors and keeping a sense of homeostasis and equilibrium in our lives. Through the practice of meditation, which is essentially the practice of attention and awareness, we can achieve a mentally clear and emotional calm and stable state.
There is a myriad form of meditation, from body-centered meditation or yoga Nidra, emotion-centered meditation, meditation with movement or the yoga practice, to mindfulness meditation, which incorporates the three S’s of silence, solitude, and stillness. This simple, accessible, and portable practice can not only help with improving cognitive ability, concentration, and focus but also decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Through improved cognitive abilities and emotional resiliency, managing everyday stressors and maintaining a sense of cool amidst the craziness of modern life will not seem undoable or unmanageable. Installing the morning ritual of ten to fifteen minutes of mindfulness meditation every day has been fundamental in my own journey towards healing from past hurts and effectuating transformative change in my life. It is through small but consistent steps that deep and profound transformation can be realized and it is within your dominion to manifest your best life.
About Our Village Contributor
Caesar R. Cabral Jr., - Wellness Coach
Inspire A Movement
Lake Nona Business Owner & Resident
Inspire A Movement, Inc. is an Orlando (Lake Nona) based health and wellness company founded by Caesar & Sandra Cabral, which specializes in the organizing and provision of community wellness events, such as the quarterly Wellness Mini-Retreats, weekly Yoga On The Lawn, monthly Yogi Brunch, international wellness retreats (in Costa Rica), event planning, and health and life coaching services.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Village Connect by 3rdArm, Inc.