When people bring up living in the now and being present, I get a little worried that I’m about to be taken on a spiritual journey to a land of shakras and meditation. I’m not into it. I don’t want to go. And I’m not taking you there.

Being conscious of internal thoughts and our daily existence in the external world is important, however, and nothing drives that “truth nail” into my head with more power than a simple trip to Wal-Mart.

I will explain that analogy in a moment.

First, what exactly does “being conscious” mean? Consciousness is not mumbo jumbo voodoo created by shamans or charlatans. It is about being in a state of AWARENESS in relation to every aspect of your life — within your mind and in the external world.

It is being present in the moment, existing in the now, and being attuned to your internal voice. This ability to be aware of these things is an internal power, a strength of self, that many people are not aware exists.

Important: We can gain more personal strength and power by learning how to live in awareness. This concept is inside out from the motis operandi many function under today, where the oblivious and apathetic behavior of following the herd is, if not rewarded, the general expectation.

The ability to harness and control your awareness of your thoughts and what is happening around you influences aspects of your life you may never have realized or considered before. Through being aware we can improve areas of life, such as our health, safety, finances, relationships, fun, and our environment.

We can do these things by recognizing our own thoughts, negative or positive, and also noticing when we are actively engaged vs. checked-out from any given situation.

When we navigate life in a state of being checked-out we are operating via autopilot, impulses, habits, passivity, negativity. This is not a state that enables us to reach our highest potential of living. It is only existence, acceptance and is powerless.

How conscious are you?

Wal-Mart litmus test:

1. Do you push your shopping cart down the center of an aisle without thinking about aisle access for others?

2. Do you stop and block aisles to hold personal conversations or reunions?

3. Do you look at your phone while walking at a snail’s pace or meandering like a drunken sailor?

4. Do you stop your cart directly in front of the spot where someone is trying to make a selection?

5. Do you stretch your arm in front of another shopper in order to get what you want, without saying ‘excuse me’?

6. Do you jump out of bed, drive to Walmart and later realize you do not have on pants?

7. Do you let the cashier ring up all your merchandise before asking if they accept ApplePay?

Sorry these are snarky (but real) examples of living without awareness, or courtesy. Any ‘Yes’ answers are a thumbs down. 😉

Where do we begin if we want to gain power in our lives through being more conscious?

Below are five simple things you can do right away.

*EXAMPLES*

1. Practice being present:

a) When holding a conversation with someone, pay attention and be fully engaged with the other person. Do not drift away to think about your grocery list or what you want to eat for lunch. Do not rummage in your head preparing a comeback or response. Listen and focus.

b) At get togethers with friends or family, put away your phone, set aside thoughts about the past or worries about tomorrow. Recognize and enjoy the moment and company you are in NOW.

2. Learn:

Explore the unfamiliar with an open mind:

a) The world abounds with unusual places, people, experiences, history knowledge, hobbies. Make it a point to learn something new every few months, or so. Something you have always thought sounded interesting or wanted to try. Explore, research, try it out and expand your world.

b) Tune into current affairs being discussed in the news. (Not the Kardashian’s or Hollywood elite). What is happening? Who is affected? How do you feel about it? Is there something you can or want to do or say about it?

3. Appreciate:

a) Make a list of things you appreciate in your life. Keep adding to your list over time.

b) At the end of each day or each week write down the things that you enjoyed or the successes you had. This can be a list or paragraph.

4. Plan:

a) Consciously planning daily, weekly or monthly activities can help us manage life with more awareness and ease. You can:

   Schedule time to manage finances/bills

   Plan your errands and chores

   Allocate time for hobbies/fitness/relaxation

b) Look into the future. Make goals for yourself that have a timeline with dates for achievement. Put your timeline up somewhere where you can track your progress. Reward yourself for meeting milestone successes. This can be exciting and fun.

5. Thoughts and Beliefs.

a) What kind of thoughts or beliefs could be holding you back in life? Write them down and boldly label them as such. Which thoughts and beliefs are helping you move forward, improve and give you success? Write them down.

b) Throughtout your day pay attention to where your thoughts go. Is there a pattern? Is there a lot of negativity? What, if any, validity do these thoughts hold? Can they be replaced by something more positive? Realize that your internal thoughts have an effect on your mood, relationships, and perceptions of the world around you. Identify where your negative thoughts or beliefs have come from and take steps to dissect them. For example: If you think you are an idiot, figure out what it is that causes you to feel insecure in some way. Telling yourself something like this is not only “negative” it is demoralizing and not helpful to you in anyway. Segregate that thought pattern and determine how you can turn it around, by finding ways you can take positive action for change or improvement.

This is a short list of some beginnings toward living a more conscious life. Small changes can have a huge ripple effect that spans out to many facets of your world. The key is to be vigilant in our wakefulness. It is easy to get lazy and drift back into oblivion, losing the power of being present.

Both eyes on the prize, which succinctly put is the purpose of your life: Living life to the fullest. Mind open.

Joan

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