What Is It We Want to Awaken?

In

Tricia Reilly Koch & Doro Bush Koch

Each person hits milestones at different times in their lives and with different emotions, and sometimes with baggage. As we get older, true awakening may not mean looking for something we don’t have but actually becoming present to what is already there.  

If you’re feeling stuck, it may be not that you need something new but rather to strip off outdated ideas that are no longer serving. 

Our cells regenerate every seven years. Our brain does not need to hold on to old paradigms once they’ve become obsolete. 

Sometimes it’s in letting go of stories we’ve made up about what counts that we remember and can come to once again appreciate what truly matters. 

Consider this month trying to waken to joy, adventure and gratitude. 

Joy 

Do what you love and do it with the intention to lose yourself in it. When we get immersed in an act of creativity or a piece of music or playing a game, we fully inhabit our body, mind and spirit at the same time. 

Try taking a deep breath before you start in on an activity. Close your eyes and get present to where your body is in the room. Envision a smile on your face. Commit to being open to whatever the experience offers you. 

After you’ve participated in something that brought you joy, be sure to thank anyone involved, and thank yourself for trying it! Keep the experience alive by taking a moment before bed to journal about how the experience felt, including notes about all five senses.  

Adventure 

We typically think of adventure as taking risks and overcoming fear. It can indeed be freeing to step outside your comfort zone and discover new activities and places, even books in a different genre. At the same time, adventure is really about attitude. Anything can be exciting and new if you bring an open mind and a commitment to being in the present rather than letting this moment be influenced by the past. 

If you have time only for a walk around your neighborhood, try imagining you have just moved to the area from another country. Imagine what details you’d notice — in architecture, plant life, light and shadows. 

When you get back, journal about what you saw, as yourself or continuing the persona of a newcomer, maybe writing a letter to an imaginary sibling or friend back home. You’ll be amazed how much role playing can help with awakening!  

Gratitude 

As Brené Brown demonstrates in her new book, Atlas of the Heart, language shapes reality. When we frame a task as an opportunity we “get” to do instead of something we “have” to do, there’s so much more richness available to us. 

Research tells us that cultivating an attitude of gratitude can have a positive impact on longevity. People who consciously acknowledge the good in their lives are likely to have lower stress and better sleep, leading to better mental and physical health.  

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” author & journalist Melody Beattie 

Try saying thank you to people for simple acts or simply for being present with you, to share a meal or even just a conversation. Go on to give thanks for food, for objects of beauty, for nature, out loud or in writing. See how it feels to look for ways to express your gratitude. 

Awakening does not mean that suddenly everything comes together in a tremendous sunrise. Rather, awakening is about creating subtle shifts, training ourselves to look for light in unexpected places. A few simple changes over time can make a dramatic difference in our sense of fulfillment and openness to take on even more new endeavors. 

Recommended Reading 

The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama & Desmond TuTu 

Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness by James Baraz 

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo 

Growing Bolder contributors Doro Bush Koch and Tricia Reilly Koch are sisters-in-law who founded the wellness company BB&R, Bright, Bold and Real over a decade and a half ago with a very clear goal: to share with others what they’ve learned about mindfulness and holistic living with the intention that everyone begin to live their best life. Learn more about their retreats, workshops, courses and popular Health Gig podcast.

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