For a moment, forget about multi-tasking, increasing efficiency, and optimizing output. Today’s exercise is about streamlining the mind and exploring real, acute awareness in everything that you do.
Try it: Brush your teeth and be fully aware of the entire experience. How does the water feel in your mouth? What subtle flavors do you detect in the toothpaste? Which hand are you using? Does it change? Brush each tooth individually, front and back. Do you default to certain habits when you are doing a routine task like this? What thoughts come up while you are brushing your teeth? Does brushing your teeth change how your mouth feels? Does it change how you feel in any other way? Does it increase your overall energy? What do you feel like doing after you brush your teeth?
Note that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions above. The exercise is just about noticing what you notice. That is awareness. We can practice awareness during mundane tasks like brushing our teeth, and our minds will start to apply this type of mental focus to other things as well.
Some other times when acute awareness can be particularly beneficial:
During a workout – being in tune with how your body is feeling.
When you are feeling ill – digging deep into what ails you, so that you can unroot the cause, not just treat the symptoms.
While driving – not only for safety, but to be more courteous to other drivers, as well.
Anytime you are with a friend or loved one – Especially as we enter a season of giving, try to give everyone you spend time with the gift of your awareness. Be aware of how they are feeling, the conversation you are sharing, and all of the subtle currents of energy that flow between you. Use that awareness to engage more deeply in each moment and strengthen your inter-personal connections. Everyone will feel more fulfilled.