Increasing Your Awareness

Missing the Moment
Trying to live fully in the present—or, said another way, "being in the moment"—is a challenging proposition, Dr. Oz says. We frequently get caught up in our routines, habits and thoughts, and find ourselves feeling disconnected from what is happening around us…or even within our own bodies. Instead, we spend our time and energy creating to-do lists and dwelling in the past.

These thought patterns—wishing, hoping, planning, missing and regretting—prevent us from truly being present and from completely engaging in what is happening in our lives right now…in the present moment. Instead, we often find ourselves running on "autopilot"—without conscious awareness—because we have literally become lost in our thoughts.

Attending to the Moment with Mindfulness
Mindfulness means that we are paying attention to everything that happens within our bodies and around us in the present moment without judgment. However, when we are on autopilot, we often act unconsciously or habitually. We just react. Even our thoughts can occur without our conscious awareness. It is human nature to categorize and evaluate everything that we think, see, hear, etc., and these evaluations typically alter our experience and are usually at the root of our stress.

By using mindfulness techniques to pay attention to our minds and bodies, we can begin to take more control and switch off the autopilot. Learning to be fully aware of our bodily sensations, thoughts and emotions—no matter whether they are pleasant or unpleasant—can help us deal with our stress more effectively.

How to Practice Mindfulness
As with any skill, mindfulness can be learned. The practice is in the repetitive act of directing attention to only one thing in this moment. No one would suggest that just paying attention is the answer to all of life's problems. All of life's problems and stressors, however, can be seen more clearly when our mind is clear.

When we begin to see more clearly how we are thinking, feeling and reacting, we can begin to learn new ways of being and responding to the things going on in our lives.

PDF This mindfulness exercise, called a body scan, can help.

You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the body scan meditation exercise. Download it here.