Living Consciously

Living consciously is this sort of hippy dippy saying that I used to equate to being in a constant meditative state without highs or lows while drinking lots of green tea and standing in yoga poses at Target. I’m not completely sure why I defined it that way or what sad experience I had at some point to leave that impression in my head.

I am learning that living consciously is way easier (and harder) than I thought. Defining it is easier, doing it is harder. How many times have you walked into the laundry room to flip the washer to the dryer, noticed that you’re almost our of dryer sheets, walked into the kitchen to add it to the grocery list, and then left to run errands? You get home hours later and realize you never switched the laundry. That’s living unconsciously. It’s not ADHD. It’s not “being a parent”. And we all do this, right? I have been so incredibly unconscious since my son was born (and didn’t even realize it) that I started resembling Nascar race car, constantly in a hurry but getting little accomplished.

The worst consciousness-sucking experience in my life is my computer. I can sit down to do some work, pop on Facebook to see if I have notifications, notice that someone commented on something they just bought, Google that thing, price shop, read the reviews, remember that I need to buy something on Amazon, buy it, close my computer, and go brush my teeth. I can do this over and over again, remembering I had work to do and never actually getting it done. Adorable.

The almighty check-list is my number one consciousness ally. Brain dumping at the beginning of the day and then doing my damnedest to get through that list before bedtime is usually really successful. But now I’m also trying to keep my brain engaged in what I’m doing. When wandering thoughts pass by, I acknowledge them. Sometimes they’re important enough for me to write down so I don’t forget later. Sometimes I just say hello to them and brush them aside. Then I continue to focus on the task at hand. The moment those unrelated thoughts stop by uninvited (and with muddy shoes) is the moment I get to make a choice to stay conscious. Like authenticity, consciousness is a daily practice. But by taking this “stay present” approach to life, I also notice that I remember my day. I remember what I did yesterday with great clarity and I remember what I need to do today. I remember to tell my husband funny things Abe does. I remember to water the plants.

What little ways can you stay conscious during the day? Remember, staying conscious means honoring yourself, so your “staying conscious” may require a nap.

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