Waking Up to Awareness

Waking Up to Awareness
Alarm Clock Showing 5 O’clock Against A Dark Background by Oleksandr Latkun from NounProject.com
Awareness is the main tool we use to become aware of the things that are happening on autopilot—the automatic thoughts, reactions, emotions, behaviors, and decisions.
— Dr. Helena Lass, Psychiatrist, Teacher of Practical Consciousness

Is there anything more important than realizing that we have been "running on autopilot" for most of our lives and didn't know it? This question came to mind recently as I started considering which of the six inner capacities I write about here at SpaceB were most important.

Is it awareness, forward-thinking, leadership, dialogue, the mind, or the journey?

Historically, I've placed awareness at the top of the list, but then it hit me. They are all equally important to me because I've had a life-changing, paradigm-shifting experience in each area. An experience that changes everything from that day forward.

I felt it would be helpful for me to discern for myself and others why that's the case. What is it about each of these six inner capacities, and what did I experience that would cause me to take such a position?

Now I've decided to talk about these inner capacities alphabetically, beginning with awareness.

Awareness refers to our ability to consciously perceive and understand our surroundings, thoughts, feelings, and actions. It allows us to make sense of the world around us and respond appropriately to various situations.

In essence, awareness is the state of being conscious or awake. It involves gathering information through our senses, processing it in our brains, and then using that information to make decisions and take action.

This process is continuous, as we constantly update our awareness based on new experiences and information.

Developing our awareness helps us become more mindful of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, allowing us to make better choices and improve our overall well-being.

By cultivating awareness, we can also enhance our relationships with others, enabling us to be more empathetic and understanding of their perspectives and needs.

Then one day in 2017, while interviewing Dr. Helena Lass, I was awakened to the true nature of awareness.

"Awareness is the main tool we use to become aware of the things that are happening on autopilot," says Dr. Lass.

Interesting. That statement shocked me. Was I really running on autopilot and didn't know it? Was there more to awareness than I imagined?

Even though I didn't fully get it, a door was opened. It launched me on a deeper quest to understand awareness better and how my autopilot was running my life.

Running on autopilot

When I say "running on autopilot," I mean that we have been going through our daily routines or tasks without much conscious thought or awareness.

Sure, we often catch ourselves doing a repetitive task when our mind wanders elsewhere, like driving the same route to work every day. Yet we still arrive safely even though we can't remember any details about the drive along the way.

But what if "running on autopilot" goes even much deeper than that? Much deeper than we ever thought possible or can even imagine.

That was the realization I was awakened to when I first learned about awareness when I interviewed Dr. Helena Lass. For the first time, I heard someone talk about awareness, attention, and our autopilot in ways I had never heard before.

I slowly realized that the constant voice in my mind prevented me from being fully present and aware. As a result, I was reacting to life as it happened, often guided by my habitual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

It now made more sense to me why being fully present in each moment is so important. Living on autopilot pulls us out of this moment and into our thoughts about the past and future.

I began to learn how to disconnect from my thoughts and become an observer of my thoughts and actions without becoming attached to or identifying with them. This is still very much a work in progress.

I hope you learned something new about awareness from my experience and will explore it further!

— Bill

Bill Fox, Founder at SpaceB, LeaderONE, and Forward Thinking Workplaces

P. S. If you want to open the doors to greater awareness and see the world differently, join us at our next workshop in June. Learn more and register for the workshop here. Email bill@billfox.co if you'd like to schedule a workshop for your team or organization.