Awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, being in the moment – do they all actually mean the same thing?
In recent years, the idea of awareness has made its way into popular media. A lot of people are realizing how important it is to stay in tune with themselves and their surroundings.
Even celebrities and many other popular public figures have tried their hand at self-awareness exercises and now swear by its effectivity.
You may have also come across magazine articles, social media posts and even stories from friends talking about how awareness has changed the lives of people.
But did you know that being more aware isn’t simply about paying attention to yourself and those around you?
Despite its popularity, many people are still in the dark about the concepts of awareness and what truly happens in the process.
Mindfulness, consciousness, and awareness may all seem like the same thing but when put into practice, you may come to realize that they are actually quite different from the other.
In order to understand their differences, let us first define what is awareness and what it isn’t.
What Is Awareness?
Awareness refers to the ability to see or witnessing yourself as if you are the audience of your own show.
It’s almost like watching yourself as a character on TV rather than simply looking at yourself in the mirror. It is a state of being conscious of yourself and your surroundings and it is said to bring clarity to the mind.
Being aware can also teach you a lot about controlling the mind. It sharpens your perception and helps your mind gain more information than it did before.
If you are someone who does not pay attention to small details, you may find awareness exercises to be quite beneficial.
After all, it is essential that we connect ourselves with our surroundings.
Sometimes, we are too busy that we fail to realize what is really going on in our lives, and this is where awareness can help you.
Awareness vs Mindfulness
It is so easy to mistake awareness for mindfulness and vice versa. A lot of people still believe that they are the same concept.
And although they may seem related to each other, their processes are actually the opposite of the other.
Mindfulness means listening in to your already busy mind. You might first notice your actions and words and then try to dissect the reason behind them through your thoughts.
Awareness works the other way around. Your mind starts out as a blank slate. You then allow your body to get in contact with your physical surroundings.
This could be as simple as being aware of the feeling of the floor against the base of your foot. It could also be noticing the colors of a painting before you.
These bits of information then works its way to your mind and this is where you gain insight into your thoughts.
Awareness vs Attention
You’ll be surprised to know that awareness and attention aren’t exactly the same.
Although quite confusing, the concept is pretty simple. A study by Po-Jang Hsieh, Duke-NUS Graduate School in MIT Singapore says that human beings require a bit more brain power to pay attention.
Think about the last time you were very hungry while in class or during a meeting. Although you are paying attention to what is happening during the lecture or presentation, your mind drifts away to thoughts of food as soon as you became aware of your hunger.
Despite this, you continue your focus and attention on the meeting or class lecture anyway.
Awareness vs Consciousness
Awareness is actually an aspect of consciousness; they are not very different from one another.
Consciousness refers to the overall ability to be responsive to one’s surroundings. But it takes a higher level of self-awareness in order to build up and grow one’s consciousness.
In short, consciousness is the ultimate goal of anyone who wants to truly connect with the world. And awareness is a stepping stone towards the goal.
The Benefits Of Awareness
Now that you have an idea of what awareness is, you might be curious to find out how it could possibly change your own life.
Below are some ways awareness can improve the quality of your life. Perhaps these ideas may be a good reason for you to try out some of the self-awareness examples listed down below as well.
It’s perfectly human to close off our minds to ideas or emotions that make us feel uncomfortable.
Many of us are guilty of running away from our problems and fears simply because we don’t like it.
The problem strikes when we continue to behave in such ways. Avoiding problems and fearful situations would eventually become a habit and it would be very difficult to break in the future.
Awareness helps you see the reality of things. When we have grown accustomed to a certain way of living, we fail to see its faults.
But if we broaden our perspectives through awareness, we are actually giving ourselves a window for change.
How Your Mind Thinks
We do not often think about how our mind processes thoughts. Most of us are driven by emotion or influenced by our environment.
It’s a good idea to step back sometimes to take a look at how our mind thinks.
Our thoughts greatly affect the way we choose to live and the decisions that we make. Without frequently checking in, we would end up mindlessly wasting away our lives when we could have improved some areas of it instead.
Know What You Want
Many people say that they do not know what they truly want in life; that they are still in search of the meaning and purpose behind their existence.
What most of them do not know is that the answer already lies within us. We just fail to realize it because we do not pay attention to our surroundings. It’s not easy to focus on things that are beyond our own thoughts.
We are often crowded with objects that distract us or things out of our control that we cannot plainly see what is before us.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of yourself, you need to start with smaller steps. As written above, self-awareness is the first step towards consciousness.
If you would like to know who you truly are and what you want out of this life, you may want to try doing some self-awareness exercises.
Being aware of your surroundings isn’t just about observing the physical world. One can also learn how to be sensitive to the feelings and situations of others.
Being more self-aware does not end at oneself. Once you learn about your own emotions, you can also begin to understand how others may feel or react to a particular situation.
Books and classes cannot teach someone how to be kind or to be compassionate. Such virtues can only be developed by firsthand experience.
It is more likely that one learns to be kind from someone else extending that same kindness to them.
What Is Self-Awareness?
As we’ve mentioned in previous paragraphs, self-awareness is the highest form of awareness and it is the stepping stone of consciousness.
Self-awareness simply means being more aware of your inner self.
By getting to know yourself on a deeper level, you are also able to free yourself from the barriers present in your life. You are also able to discover new facts about yourself which you may have never noticed in the past.
Below are some examples of self-awareness and how each of them could be affecting the way you live now.
It also explains how self-awareness can help you get through to some of the issues you may be experiencing today.
5 Self-Awareness Examples You Need To Know
Most of us look in the mirror and certain feelings arise. Whether it’s self-love or self-hate, many of us are guilty of simply judging our appearance.
But do we really see our physical attributes for what they really are?
Being aware of how you look isn’t about matching the way we look to our standards of beauty.
When was the last time you’ve seen yourself smile or laugh? Are you always wearing a frown or are your eyebrows always furrowed? Many of us do not realize what is beyond physical beauty.
Checking in with the way you look is mostly about getting in tune with your disposition and your health as well.
Aside from physical appearances, it is also important that we take notice of our own actions.
Oftentimes, we do not see how we behave in front of others.
Likewise, we oftentimes hide our true selves out of fear of rejection.
Being aware of our actions isn’t just about taking responsibility for the way we act, it is also about being genuine and building relationships with others around us.
Have you ever met anyone who does not keep track of their goals? As human beings, it is natural that we dream about certain things.
In fact, we all have plenty of dreams we wish we could accomplish.
But to actually realize those dreams, they must be transformed into goals instead. This means that you are actively taking steps to actualize those dreams.
Through awareness, we are able to remind ourselves of our goals, especially during times when we wish to give up or when others push us to surrender our dreams.
Awareness also helps us keep track of our actions and see whether or not we are putting in enough work and effort into reaching our goals.
Almost all of us don’t like to talk about things that scare us. We don’t like confronting our fears and our first instinct is to run away towards the other direction.
Most of us have the tendency to shut down ideas that make us feel uncomfortable. But did you know that being constantly aware of our fears grants us a certain kind of power?
When you know what scares you, it is easier to gather courage simply because we allow ourselves to be familiar with it.
It is difficult when you do not know who the enemy is and what they are capable of. But understanding our fears can actually weaken them because we would then know how to get through them.
Without noticing it, some of us have a predefined set of beliefs.
Whether it has been passed down to us from our parents or we’ve gone through some traumatic experience, we tend to use such ideas and experiences every time we run into something similar.
Perhaps you’ve been told in the past that money is the root of all evil, which is why your relationship with money may not be so good today.
The truth is, experiences differ every time. What your parents experienced and what you may have experienced in the past will not be the same as the experiences you will have in the future.
Being aware of your own predefined beliefs opens doors to many possibilities. These beliefs are what limits you from reaching your full potential.
Through awareness, you can identify whether or not these beliefs are hindering you from the ultimate truth.
6. Connection With Others
Last but not the least, awareness can help you shed light on your current relationships.
Love is a great thing but it can also be the cause of our blindness.
Many romantic relationships are one-sided because chances are, half of the couple does not realize how the true condition of the relationship is.
They don’t realize that they are devaluing themselves or that their partner does not treat them the way they should.
Without awareness, their thoughts are biased and warped into thinking that the relationship is working. By simply opening your eyes to the truth, a lot can be revealed about a relationship.
By knowing what is awareness and how it can help you, you can then utilize its potential to get rid of some issues you might be experiencing today.
Being aware isn’t simply about taking notice of the things that surround you every day. It requires an active participation of connecting oneself with the Universe.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.