Self Awareness Exercise

The following Self Awareness Exercise is an excerpt from the book Turn Stress Into Bliss by Michael Lee


During the day this week take some twenty second AWARENESS BREAKS. An Awareness Break is simply stopping what you are doing or thinking or saying or being for twenty seconds and using that twenty second time out to NOTICE what is happening to you, and around you. Very simple and yet potentially very powerful. If you are not by nature an “inward looking” person, I suggest you try going inward with your awareness breaks. Try being very present to your self and what is happening for you. Notice your feelings, your thoughts, your state of being. That’s all, Just notice. If on the other hand you are someone who is very aware of your self but tends to not see what is going on around you, you can choose to use your awareness breaks to focus more on what’s happening out there in your world. Don’t limit your self awareness breaks to your work. Try some at home too.

I stumbled across this self awareness practice many years ago and it is one that has had a profound impact on my life. It was first introduced to me as the spiritual practice of Inward and Outward Meditation and connecting the two. That didn’t seem to make sense to me the way it was originally taught and so I modified it to make it fit more easily and simply into my daily life. Once while returning home from a teaching trip of several days, I took a moment as I was about to open the door and enter my house on my return. In the period of the twenty second pause I took before opening the door of my house, I learned something about myself that to this day has changed my life immeasurably. I clearly saw my anxiety in those twenty seconds. My concern about how I would find things when I walked in. What might be out of place? What could have gone wrong? What household chores not done? As I saw all this in my thoughts, it was difficult for me to accept. I also noticed a question.

"Is this how I want to be as I walk into my house and see my partner and children who I’ve missed so much while I’ve been away?" I took a breath, felt the love for my family that was lurking underneath my fears, opened the door, and embraced the first person I saw with a big hug. My homecomings have never been the same since that day. They are now always full of love and celebration as I’ve made that the first priority after walking in the door. Sometimes I have forgotten but noticed that too and then returned outside for a moment before re-entering after a twenty second Awareness Break.

In case you missed it, the most important aspect of this story is my TAKING THE TIME to become AWARE. Without that twenty seconds of empty space, I would not have seen the loaded thoughts and the fears they were propelling, that in turn were affecting my behavior and the response such behavior could expect. It was as a result of taking the time to become aware that I could change my habitual behavior and create a different life outcome. I had the power to create what I wanted in my life, but only after I had become aware of what I was actually creating compared to what I wanted to create.

Use your Awareness Breaks in a variety of places and at different times of the day. Try one as you look in your closet, as you sit in your car, before you pick up the phone, as you sit at your computer, and so on. If practiced regularly it will also greatly reduce the amount of stress in your life.

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