Directing my attention and noticing what is going on both within me and outside of me is part of my writing and part of my being. Making the invisible visible is an opening to what’s next.
Awareness is key as it always is! It is the second layer of my Leading from the Inside Out model. It is the foundation of really everything, it is the opening to something new, and it is integral to authentic and powerful leadership. And awareness is inextricably linked with presence, which I blogged about last month. Only when we are still and in the moment, only then can we direct our attention and focus. With this attention we shine a light of awareness onto whatever we are noticing.
It sounds so easy, and it is simple, but not always easy (like so many things). Our brains are designed to operate on automatic whenever possible to reduce our cognitive load. From our first days we create schemas about how the world we live in and the people around us work. These schemas get wired in, they live in our muscles and bones, they are embodied ways of being and doing that make us who we are. And sometimes these invisible habits of thought and action keep us stuck. Amanda Blake in her book Your Body is Your Brain reminds us that “We don’t see the world as it is, so much as we see the world as we are.” So it makes sense that we are often, if not usually, on default, that we miss things.
Sometimes I even want to miss things because typically when I notice something my first reaction is to judge. I notice what I don’t like about how I did that, what I said there, how I showed up. My judge has a lot to say to me and it’s easy for me to get her judgments mixed up with awareness. She's holding on tight to the wheel, driving forward to survive. Her grip is like iron and when I fight her, she hangs on tighter. She becomes more desperate to control what goes on in my mind, my heart, and my body. This makes awareness painful rather than enlightening.
And what I’ve come to know is that judgment is NOT awareness and awareness is NOT judgment. So when I see my judge hanging on for dear life, I have compassion for her. She wants so badly to “figure it out” or “make it better” or “protect me” and what I know deep down is that I don’t need saving. All is well, awareness doesn’t have to be anything other than the deep and clear knowing of whatever it is I’m noticing. I get to let go of the judgment about that knowing when I remember.
The trick is remembering, as it always is! Just like with presence, it’s about coming back to a place of acceptance. Taking a breath is one way for me to remember that awareness is just noticing. The light of awareness is completely separate from what it is shining on - I know this when I pause, breathe, and move. Sometimes I remember with an intentional pause, when I take time to just be grateful. Noticing for the sake of gratitude rather than judgment. We are creating these wonderful lives we lead and we are just one breath away from peace, joy, and contentment. It’s here waiting for you and me – give your unique, beautiful, and wonderful essence the wheel, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Finding yourself stuck in judgment instead of basking in the light of awareness? Let’s connect!
Caroline Cochran, PhD is a Certified Presence-Based® Coach and a Leadership Development Consultant with over 25 years of experience.