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“If you begin to be what you are, you will realise everything, but to begin to be what you are, you must come out of what you are not.”

Śrī Śāntānanda Sarasvatī

Awareness & Mindfulness

The aim of practical philosophy is to gradually develop the ability to live and act consciously all the time; with full knowledge of your surroundings and your part in them.

Commonly life seems frantic and confusion abounds, the mind continuously darts around, the emotions are in conflict and sometimes we know little about what is going on or what we are to do. To discover stillness of mind and bring about a greater sense of stability and confidence it is necessary to develop the capability to connect fully with the world through the senses, supported by the mind and heart.

This practice together with meditation is the corner-stone of practical philosophy and the following Exercise is introduced on the first evening of the Foundation course.

Awareness Exercise

  1. Find a balanced and comfortable posture, not stiff or slouching, but “poised”.
  2. Start with connecting to the sense of touch, the most immediate sense.
    Connect with your feet on the ground, the weight of your body as it is distributed through your seat. Feel the touch of clothes on the skin, and the play of air on the face and hands.
  3. Be aware of taste and smell, the subtle odours and flavours as they play on the senses.
  4. Now be aware of sight. Be aware of simple form and colour, the rich contrasts, curves and shapes. This is a strong sense so just keep it simple. Some people may prefer to close their eyes if they find sight too distracting.
  5. Now connect with the hearing, starting with those sounds close to you, within the room. Then allow the hearing to run slowly out, encompassing more sounds from the street outside, the surrounding town or area, and then letting it run right out to the furthest and gentlest sounds, embracing all. Don’t label the sounds, just allow them to flow through your awareness.
  6. With the body completely relaxed, stay with the moment, stay with the edge of the awareness and the reality of what the senses are telling you. Simply rest with the awareness for a few moments.

You can listen to the Awareness Exercise, introduced in week one, below:

Right-click here to download the Awareness Exercise. Choose ‘Save link as…’ and save the MP3 wherever you want.

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