Spiritual masters and psychologists tell us self-awareness can give us happier and more effective lives. Meditation, writing and doing routine work mindfully are some of the ways to increase self-awareness.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the simplest methods. We sit down with our eyes closed for 10-20 minutes and observe what is happening inside: our thoughts and feelings, sensations and breathing. We should observe our thoughts and not elaborate on them. If we find ourselves elaborating on thoughts, we should combine this method with breathing meditation (observing our breathing) or mantra meditation (repeating a name of God or a mantra).
Janette Rainwater, clinical psychologist and writer says: “Philosophers and mystics, people such as Socrates, Gurdjieff, Krishnamurti, the Buddha and Lao Tsu, have all stressed the necessity for self-observation or awareness as the first requirement for becoming enlightened. But it is important to learn the difference between genuine self-observation and introspection or obsessive, squirrel cage thinking.”
Writing down one’s thoughts and feelings for say 20 minutes regularly develops one’s self-awareness. Robin Sharma, author or self-help books, says: “Journaling builds self-awareness. I also use my journal to write daily goals, plan and record what I’m grateful for, and capture and process new ideas along with lessons learnt.”
Self-awareness enables us to gain control over our lives. For instance, a person who smokes should smoke with full awareness. After doing this for some days, he can decide whether he wants to continue.
A person who tends to overeat can try to eat with full awareness in order to control the desire.
One can do routine work like chopping vegetables slowly and without talking to develop self-awareness.
Rainwater says we should ask ourselves these questions from time to time: What am I doing? What am I feeling? What am I thinking? How am I breathing? What do I want from myself in this new moment?
She says the basic tools of self-observation are journal writing, writing an autobiography, analysing one’s dreams and meditation. We can improve the quality of our lives by developing self-awareness.