It’s hard to fully appreciate the benefits of outward-directed mindfulness without first directing your focus inward and learning to be mindful of the self. In other words, it could be said that “taking time to stop and smell the roses” isn’t as meaningful when you don’t know what the beauty of the scent of a rose means to you. By becoming self-aware first, you can enable yourself to more fully understand and enjoy being mindful of the world outside of you.
Awareness of self is an important part of awareness beyond the self
Another saying that people hear a lot—particularly in the self-improvement community—is this: “you can’t love another person fully without first loving yourself.” That’s quite true, in my opinion, but I’d like to take that same idea and apply it to the concept of mindfulness: “you can’t be fully aware of the world outside yourself without first gaining awareness of the self.”
The self-awareness-mindfulness connection
Self-awareness is a key component of mindfulness. When you take the time to be mindful of yourself, by paying attention to your internal dialog and noting your emotional responses to various stimuli, you can build up and bolster your self-awareness and put what you’ve learned to work in being mindful of the world beyond the walls of the self—and even break down those walls entirely!
Practicing self-awareness exercises can help build mindfulness
Here are a few brief, tried-and-true self-awareness-building exercises that you can practice briefly on a daily basis in order to become more in tune with your innermost self:
Exercise 1: Pay attention Take five minutes out of each day to become an objective observer of your inner dialog. Listen to your mind’s subconscious chattering as it happens. Do not try to influence it, do not pass judgment on it—just listen and take note. What do you say to yourself? Is there any common theme? What can you learn from listening to you talking to you?
Exercise 2: Question everything Another way you can build self-awareness is by questioning everything you say to yourself. After you have performed the first exercise a few times, halt in the middle of it and randomly ask yourself, “Why?” Continue to ask yourself this and see where the inner “conversation” leads! You might be surprised at the insights you can gain from simply asking yourself why you feel/think the way that you do.