With the small amount of life experience I have compiled over the last years, I have seen the importance of the ability to have both internal and external awareness.
My time in the Royal Marines and as a Firefighter showed me that a lack of external awareness could result in injury or potentially death. In the world we now live in it is very easy to become ‘comfortable’ and to see everything as peaceful and safe. I do believe there is a place for this, but not at the expense of losing the primal instincts that have allowed us to survive and thrive as a race for the amount of time we have.
Writing this on the way back from London, on the train heading towards the coast, you see the difference in the individual who lives and works in the city and the ones that live on the quiet coastline. The ones that live in the city are generally more aware, but even this is on the decline due to the amount of people with earphones in and their heads stuck on a phone whilst crossing a road. The reason for this is things move much faster, crime is generally higher and people are ‘generally’ more aware of this. On the coast crime is rarely experienced, life is slower with a reduction in ‘moving parts’ - complacency starts to creep in with ‘external awareness’ reduced and when things do happen they always “happen suddenly”. The reality is that things rarely happen suddenly but the initial stages leading up to that event were not noticed due to a lack of external awareness.
The other sad things that can occur with reduced external awareness is failing to notice the world around us and how amazing it really is. We need to be aware of certain factors in order to thrive within the environment that surrounds us whilst appreciating that life is something that is often taken for granted by many of us. Some of the most incredible things I have experienced around the world have been found through the sunrises. Forget the TV! The fact that a massive ball of burning gas sits a perfect distance from earth to support life is incredible and every time it rises it is somehow different to every time before. I am grateful for every morning I get to wake up with my body working as it does and can walk or run down to the beach to see that. Some of the best things in our life are there if we choose to notice them and enjoy them, awareness is the first stage to seeing these.
How to increase awareness? Look around more and actively seek out at least 10 things every day that you are grateful for. It can be anything … the sun, sea, your body, warmth, home, family, water, food and most of all life! Just remember … look for the great things in life but also be aware of the things that may cause us harm, because fundamentally we are generally in control of life and the situations that surround us.
On the opposite side of this I feel we have lost awareness on an internal level. The inability to listen to what our body is telling us can be found in the most obvious things. If you eat a bit of food and you feel tired, bloated, gassy etc, this is your body saying I don’t work well when you place this fuel in me. The other things we can fail to notice can be the things that keep us alive; our breath and overall respiratory system, which is one of the most incredible processing systems in our body. It constantly talks to all of the other systems and can be controlled manually or it can go into autopilot as soon as we begin to strike up a conversation with someone. The problems to a lot of our mental and cognitive processing can be brought back to ‘the breath’. Analyse where you breathe from … yes your nose and lungs … but WHERE? … It should be around the upper abdomen, side ribs and upper chest eventually, thus utilizing the diaphragm and intercostal muscles whilst keeping the area below the belly button (naval) toned. Complications occur when we lose awareness of the breath and we see it start to gravitate upwards where we rely on the external larger muscles to take over. This will continue to build tension and eventually compile to our overall stress!
How do you increase internal awareness? – Simply listen to what your body is telling you. How you feel, how you breathe, how you feel after eating etc.
I have provided some very brief examples of internal and external awareness … but this is really all an internal process. The way we process the world around us is based on our past experiences and the way we interpret the information we receive from our senses in the present moment. Awareness is an appreciation of the world we live in, for the great, good and things that could potentially cause harm.
“Stay aware, appreciate the great things in life and thrive within the environment that surrounds you. This life is short and should never be taken for granted … don’t just start today … start now!” – David Tilston