These are all primary things to pay attention to. Yet on a subtler level, bodies like to be spiritual. Bliss and ecstasy don't belong in the souls of saints alone. They course through the body, bringing a sense of ease, lightness, alertness, energy and exuberance. Your cells feel all these things and want you to feel them too. How? By learning, day by day, to pay more attention to what your body is saying. As the layers of indifference, judgment and denial peel away, the underlying joyful life will emerge.
One of the most basic ways to be aware is by grounding yourself in the body. There is no mystery to it. Simply feel your body whenever you've been distracted. Let's say you're driving a car, and somebody cuts you off. Your normal reaction is to be agitated or angry; you jump out of the calm, relaxed focus that connects you to the mind-body field. Instead of being overshadowed by this disruption, just go within and feel the sensations of your body. Take a deep breath, since that is an easy way to come back to body awareness.
Keep your attention on these sensations until they disappear. What you've done is cut off the stimulus response with a gap. A gap is an interval of nonreaction. It stops the reaction from fueling itself. It reminds the body of its natural state of harmonious, coordinated self-regulation. And that grounds you. It's easy because harmonious self-regulation is the body's ground state. Stress pulls you into another state of heightened biological response that triggers a flow of hormones, increased heart rate, hypervigilance of the sense and many other linked reactions.
But all are temporary; they are emergency measures only. If you allow the stress reaction to become a habit, however, disharmony enters the field of mind and body. The normal state of relaxed awareness tries to co-exist with the disrupted, agitated state of the stress response. The two don't mix; they aren't meant to exist at the same time.
Anytime you're feeling distracted, overwhelmed, stressed or overshadowed, there's a tendency to escape. The state of denial is an escape. Distracting yourself through overwork is an escape. Altering your mind with drugs and alcohol is an escape. What they all have in common is absence of awareness. You numb or distract yourself under the false belief that unawareness will help you, while being too aware will only increase your pain. In reality, the opposite is true. Awareness heals because awareness is the only thing that is truly whole and healing is fundamentally a return to wholeness.
3 practical things you can do right now to get on the road to awareness