Becoming Aware

April 4, 2021

The first time I decided to consistently see a therapist was in 2016, almost 4 years after my mother passed away. I had not so gracefully taken in my sister who was 14, separated and reconciled with my husband, changed jobs and was hanging on by a thread! The day before my sister’s high school graduation, I sat in her office and could not stop crying. Life was too much. During our session I took a call from my brother who missed his bus from Wisconsin to Minnesota. I purchased the ticket and told him 3 times not to miss the bus. So what does he do? Misses the bus! Now what did I do? Bought him another ticket. I don’t remember his exact response, but I do remember he had excuses and could not do the 1 thing I needed him to do.

I was so frustrated by everything. I was taking care of everyone and no one was taking care of me. I lost the only person who I could count on consistently. My therapist, as I had a meltdown on her couch that day and based on previous discussions, explained to me that I am energetically sensitive. I take on and feed off the energy of those around me. In order for me to truly heal from all that I was holding in and packing away, I had to recognize my triggers and understand how to react to situations around me.

Throughout our time, I realized how important this was for my healing specifically. This was my introduction to becoming aware of how I reacted to people and situations. I learned my triggers and when recognized, developed the tools to address my feelings – both positive and negative.

This was not an overnight process – most healing isn’t, but I was able to obtain the foundational tools I needed to begin the process. Fast forward to 2018, I started practicing mindfulness which for me was taking my awareness journey to the next level. Over time, the process of meditating and seeking equanimity in all situations was the impetus to this heightened awareness. In addition to being aware of my reactions, awareness for me also became learning to pause and be fully present.  I committed to meditating every morning, journaling, and staying with my feelings, meaning pausing to really ask myself how I feel – sad, happy, hopeful, defeated, inadequate, excited. I tuned into the specifics of my feelings in most situations. I also went outside to enjoy sunshine, slowed down enough to savor the flavor of my foods, and appreciated life’s joys such as the laughter of my children or quality time with loved ones.

In the spring of 2020, I lost my job. Instead of feeling many of the negative or stressful feelings most may experience with a job loss, I felt free. I expected to feel differently, but I didn’t. It was a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was confident that I would find a better role and I was grateful for the time to reflect and be with my family. I have spent the better part of the last year maintaining the effort to be present, check-in with myself, appreciate the triumphs and trials of life.

What I’ve learned:

There is an overwhelming sense of harmony when you know your physical and emotional reactions to life’s experiences. The more I’ve learned about myself, the better equipped I am to handle challenges. My appreciate for happiness is heightened and I handle stress with ease.

There is abundance in peace and power in a pause. My peace was found through practicing and understanding equanimity. The feeling of peace whether things were going well or not was my abundance. When I felt confused or needed a break, taking that break and centering was powerful. The moments I took to pause were essential to finding peace when I needed it most.

How can you use Awareness to make yourself a priority:

Recognize how people, places and situations effect you physically and emotionally – the highs and lows. Understanding these effects will allow you to react consistently in all situations – with equanimity. Ask yourself: Where do you carry stress? What causes you frustration? Who warms your heart? Where do you find joy? When are you happiest?

Take a moment for yourself. Schedule it if you need to. Be empowered to stop and take the pause when you feel like you need it most. When the sun is shining step outside and soak it in.

Tap into the things that you love and that bring you joy. Find a way to do more of it.

The bad news is nothing lasts forever. The good news is nothing lasts forever.

J. Cole via Tamara Levitt, Calm