Wake Up! It’s time to continue our journey into Dr. Michael Arloski’s Ten Tenets of Wellness. Last time we looked at Tenet Three – Supportive Relationships Are a Must. Today we’re going to look at a principle that may at first glance seem a bit unusual: Tenet Four – Wake Up!
What does Dr. Arloski mean when he encourages us to Wake Up? Don’t worry, he’s not asking us to try to reach sudden enlightenment, although if you take what he says to heart, you’ll start to live your life in a more enlightened way. What he’s talking about here is becoming more conscious…living a more conscious and aware life.
How many of us go through our day on auto-pilot, never thinking about our choices, or their long-term effect on our sense of well-being? Making the choice to wake up and live a more conscious life can be one of the most important moments to start you on your journey to true wellness.
Having the ability to operate unconsciously is an essential part of who we are. Having your autonomic nervous system, which operates for the most part outside of conscious awareness, in charge of the functions of your major organs is a good thing. I, for one, don’t want to have to remember to keep my heart pumping!
The ability to operate unconsciously is also good for those tasks that you have done so often you could almost do them with your eyes closed. For example, unlike when you were five or six and struggled with tangled laces to tie your shoes, as an adult you can likely carry on a conversation and tie your shoes at the same time.
It’s when we slip into living life unconsciously that we can end up not really living at all. As Dr. Arloski puts it, “Conscious living means becoming aware of all the choices we have and acting on them.” But like mindfulness meditation, living this way all the time is not easy. An easy way to start? Pick just one thing at a time and practice being conscious of it for a few days.
Some examples: At mealtime, really notice how your food tastes. Truly experience how good a hot shower feels after a long day. Take a few moments to really appreciate the turn of the leaves and riot of fall colors. Things like that. Gradually, you’ll start to notice that you can act based on this noticing. Maybe you’ll slow down a little (or a lot!) when you are eating, taking time to really savor your food. Maybe you’ll not be so quick to jump out of the shower and just luxuriate in your clean skin with the soapy water running down for a few minutes longer than you normally would. I think you get the idea.
I’ve heard it said that life is really made up of moments. That’s what we’re really talking about. Experiencing the moments as we live them, being present for them.
It’s when you start to live consciously that you start to really live. And that means bringing conscious awareness to all your choices. How fully present you are as you converse with a loved one, even when you’re feeling preoccupied or out of sorts. One of my favorite parts of the day is waking up to my dogs, Charlie and Princeton, and their happy, expectant faces.
Try picking out that one thing this week to really notice, and experience, and start on the path to Waking Up!