Self-awareness is about having the knowledge and understanding to recognize who you truly are. It’s about getting to know yourself better, which means that you’re mindful of your personality, character, motives, strengths, weaknesses, passions, and desires. Being self-aware also means being able to identify what makes you unique, in terms of your thoughts and actions. Having all this information can be empowering, because when you know yourself, you’re more likely to be introspective, which is an important element of healing and transformation. It could also be the springboard for both profound conversations and personal writing.
Here are some ways to increase your self-awareness:
1. Setting Intentions — An intention is a mind-set of sorts — something you want for yourself — and is best set in the morning. Think of an intention as a seed for your day, a daily om or mantra, which you should pay attention to and nourish. When you set an intention, try to make it specific, such as “Today, I am sending out résumés to a number of companies in my field.” Always put your intention in the present tense as if what you’re intending is already occurring. After you set your intention, take the steps to manifest it.
2. Journaling — This tool serves as a container to express and hold feelings, emotions, and experiences. It’s also a way to engage in a dialogue with your inner voice. Dialoguing, whether verbal or written, is very healing — emotionally and physically.
3. Mindfulness Meditation — This form of meditation, which originated in Buddhist circles, encourages you to focus on feelings, experiences, and internal and external processes in a nonjudgmental manner. It is about being fully present in the moment, thus making you more aware of yourself, others, and your environment. Mindfulness meditation is about paying attention to the thoughts racing through your mind, without obsessing about them or trying to fix them in any particular way. Meditation is one of the best ways to increase self-awareness, calm your mind and body, and connect with what is happening in the present moment.
4. Yoga — This is an exercise that promotes self-awareness, both physically and psychologically. It also encourages mindfulness. Sometimes it’s important to become aware of your thoughts in order to break the chain of negativity, but not in a way that becomes overpowering. By maintaining certain asanas, or positions, yoga helps quiet the mind.
5. Creative Visualization — This is a technique in which you close your eyes and use your imagination to create what you want in your life. It can encompass relationships, physical or mental health, financial issues, inner peace and harmony, and much more. For some people, creative visualization is an effective way to deal with psychological or physical wounds because it offers a way to cope with traumatic events. It’s also a powerful tool that can help facilitate transformation from the present, into future dreams and aspirations. When we have positive feelings or intentions about what we can achieve, we begin to live according to our potential. Visualizing every aspect of our ideal life allows us to become energized and motivated by our hopes and desires. In essence, it brings us closer to realizing our dreams.
6. Breathwork — Obviously, we can’t live without breathing. The first thing we do when we’re born is take a breath, and the last thing we do before we die is take a breath. Most of us take breathing for granted — because it’s so automatic, we rarely think about it. But to maintain a sense of optimal well-being and health, it’s a good idea for us to be conscious of our breath, as it keeps us in touch with our body and supports change and transformation.
There are several ways to become aware of your breath. The first is to breathe in for a count of seven, exhale for a count of seven, and then hold your breath for a count of seven. Repeat this process several times.
Another breathing method, called yogic breathing, will help you relax and is particularly useful in times of stress: Close off your right nostril with your right thumb, and inhale through your left nostril; release and close off your left nostril with your middle finger, and exhale through your right nostril. Once again, close off your right nostril, inhale through your left nostril, and exhale through your right one. Repeat as many times as you wish.