The big questions we frequently ask ourselves:
- How do I live at peace with myself?
- How do I live in harmony with people around me?
Two questions that most of us ask at a given moment in our lives… some of us do it earlier, others later… some never (sadly). Full-sized questions like these cannot be answered in our minds… only whole-body answers will satisfy. If you come to the journey of conscious living with sincerity and an open heart, you will eventually accumulate a set of practices you can use to embrace every moment of your life.
Conscious living is not just a philosophy - it is a living, organic source of wisdom you can feel in your body, understand in your mind, and apply to every moment of your life - it is about how life actually works. It is not a set of beliefs or a faith.
In the book Conscious Living: How to Create a Life of Your Own Design, Gay Hendricks, PhD, describes conscious living as:
- The art of full commitment to knowledge, balanced by full willingness to stand in wonder at the irreconcilable or unfathomable.
- It focuses on the present, not the past or the future.
- It shows you how to redesign your life when you feel stuck, how to seize the opportunity that lies in the midst of difficulty.
- It shows you how to channel your energies into what will truly fulfill you.
- It teaches you how to embrace relationships that inspire your full capacity for intimacy and creativity.
- It shows you how to live lightly on the earth and how to engage in social action that yields positive results.
- It shows you how to bring forth your true potential, and the great potential in all of us.
- It is a path of constant choosing.
“At its simplest, conscious living is the art of feeling your feelings, speaking authentically, knowing your life purpose, and carrying out effective actions that contribute to your own well-being and the well-being of others.” – Gay Hendricks
I used to live unconsciously for a long time, and that remains the norm for many people today. Our society made standards and asked us to fit in, or we would risk being pushed at the end of the ecosystem and live as a misfit. Misfits are great, yet it’s not easy to live as one.
In my own way I was a misfit all my life. Growing up in communist Romania, I was encouraged to follow the rules and norms of society... keep my head down and blend in, just like anyone else does. Well, that didn't work for me because deep inside I knew there has to be another way of living. Despite my curiosity, I did not know what path to follow and that kept me confused and frustrated for some time.
There is no doubt about the popularity and appeal of unconscious living. Roles provide structure to the unconscious life, routines provide structure to the unconscious day, rules provide the safety of not having to invent anything over.
If you find yourself simply going through the motions of everyday life- wake up, shower, get dressed, go to work, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat - you may find that you are not fully appreciating life or getting the most out of every day.
The biggest scare for me was to end up in a mundane job I would dread. I did everything I could to stay out of it. I ended up creating a non-linear career path for myself, that allowed me to learn and grow, succeed and fail, fall and rise again. With all my brave non-linear choices, I was still not in alignment with my personality. I was afraid to be vulnerable and authentic, I was afraid to be myself!
“I believe that conscious living represents us at our best. When we humans are at our best, we celebrate the questing spirit in ourselves. We seek, we wonder, we invent, we make mistakes and learn from them; the quest goes on.” - Gay Hendricks
But, when are we at our best? Maybe when we finally live a life of meaning and purpose. If it’s true that ‘your purpose is already within you, and the more you align with the true essence of yourself, the more your purpose will unfold’, then we’ve got some work ahead of us. It could lead to less disengagement in the workplace, among other positive side effects.
“Your real work is to figure out where your power base is and to work on that alignment of your personality, your gifts you have to give, with the real reason why you are here,” – Oprah
When we run on autopilot, we don’t just get caught up in our routine, we also get caught up in our thoughts. This may result in a lack of motivation, feeling bored or out of touch in our relationships, feeling negative, despondent or stuck and it may also impact our ability to make positive changes in our lives.
How to improve conscious living
Care for your Physical Body
Exercise, do breathe work, let go of any stresses or worries.
Gain awareness of your Emotional Body
Take just a few minutes and write down 7 things that you are grateful for on a piece of paper. When we tap into gratitude, we align with the present moment and step into the vibrational space of peace and enjoyment.
Quoting Rumi, use the difficult people in your life to 'polish your mirror' of perception!
Nourish your Spiritual Body
Meditate, even for just 10 minutes would be beneficial. If you are not into meditation, do something creative like painting, knitting, gardening, reading or listening to music. By focusing on the task at hand and finding that stillness, you create a sense of joy, awareness and serenity.
Whole-body questions to guide your daily conscious living
- Have you exercised today?
- What is one new thing you can do today that is different than what you normally do?
- Have you done something today that makes you feel good?
- Have you mediated today?
- What are 7 things you are grateful for?
- What nourishing foods have you put in your body today?
- How many times did you respond with your ego today?
- How many times did you respond with your higher self today?
- What is one change you can make to make life easier for yourself?
- What is one ‘story’ that you keep telling yourself that you can drop or let go of from your past?
Now Pause! Take a moment to cleanse your mind, body and space- light some candles or incense, put on some relaxing music, do something you love and turn off all technology.
- What is one thing you wish for yourself right now? Visualize the event occurring in your mind.
- Did you honor and respect your thoughts and feelings today?
- What is one thing that you can do to help you trust and strengthen your intuition?
- Do you love yourself? Take a moment to tell yourself how much you appreciate and love you.
- Feeling stuck or confused? Bring your thoughts to the present moment and ask yourself what decision makes most sense with the information you have right now.
- Feeling stressed? Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what can be done right now to help alleviate the issue. If nothing can be done, let go.
Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself, as it’s the hardest thing to ‘know thyself’. Be patient yet persistent!
Before embracing conscious living I used to be a nerve rack, always worried 'about what people think about me', 'have I done everything to please everyone else...except me'...and so much more. I knew how to be sweet and resentful. Today, I have better boundaries, I worry less and I'm closer to my true essence of who I really am.
This post is a reminder to myself to never again live on autopilot, to practice more vulnerability and to be myself every step of my unfolding life. Stay tuned for more on what conscious living can do for us.
“You time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”- Steve Jobs