Many of us are often confused with the concept of consciousness. Sometimes we use it as a mere mental activity and sometimes we think it means merely being awake. In our day-to-day activities, we attend to so many chores, big or small. ][But most of these are done mechanically and unconsciously. Even when it comes to some of our simple habits, we are in a hurry to get to the next one or feel that it is a waste of time to give undue importance to small things which we do out of habit.

If we can grow conscious to what we do, we can make a big difference to our lives and enhance the quality of our lives. And we grow our conscious awareness through the practice of mindfulness. Through mindfulness, we get in touch with our individual awareness of our unique thoughts, memories, and feelings.

Since our conscious experiences are constantly shifting and changing, for instance, one moment you may be focused on reading this, the next moment, your consciousness may shift to a memory of conversation you had earlier with someone. This ever shifting stream of thoughts can change from one moment to another. Altered levels of consciousness may cause states of constant stress, anxiety and lack of focus.

Bringing your attention consciously to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, you can develop complete awareness of your thoughts and emotions. Being aware of your mind, body and feelings creates a feeling of wholeness rather than being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

“Peace of mind arrives the moment you make peace with the content of your mind .”

Rasheed Ogunlaru

Mindfulness changes your state of awareness

At the most basic level, mindfulness is simply being aware of what’s happening as it is happening. When you become aware of the workings of your mind, in the moment, you deliberately direct your awareness back into the now and focus your attitude there.

It alters your state of distractedness, inattention, and confusion to being more aware, present, focused and attentive. This helps you to react less to emotional or situational impulses or when things don’t turn out as you expected.

Instead of automatically falling into the stream of past or future that ignites unhelpful emotions, one can draw their attention to their present moment. The more you are mindful, the more is your ability to improve your patterns of thinking. Purposefully concentrating on what’s happening, reduces negative mindset or the tendency to label things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. You reflect more on the mind to make conscious choices in a state of altered awareness.

Cultivating mindfulness habit into your everyday life

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you are interested in the development and evolution of your own consciousness, the most important thing is to cultivate awareness of your conscious self. By cultivating a habit of mindfulness in our daily activities, you can avoid knee-jerk reactions to your immediate responses and can respond more constructively, and without judgment.

Mindfulness isn’t necessarily limited to certain breathing practices or to focus your attention on certain objects. Neither it isn’t just about knowing that you are hearing, seeing or observing. It’s about doing so in a way that creates space for insight and has more to do with becoming self aware of your thoughts and emotions in the moment, and to take responsibility for your sense of self. By cultivating an objective sense of self you can avoid getting lost in the subjective drama of your ever-changing inner conscious experiences.

Making Mindfulness a way of life

Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

In everyday life we rarely pay full attention to anything. Since our conscious awareness is like a stream, it is constantly changing. The way your thoughts drift from one topic to another can feel effortless even when thoughts you are having are different. And we feel resistance inside of us when we try to be at peace with ourselves. The more we try, the more we become aware of our buzzing thoughts, or emotions. And resistance is born out of our very effort to be peaceful.

Mindfulness on the other is based on the very foundation that we are innately whole, that our emotions and thoughts are messengers, and that awareness is the key. But the most fundamental thing underlying it is that of your ability to accept and respond to your every experience, as opposed to engaging in a reactive or dismissive attitude.

Being open to your experiences in the moment enables you to step back and get a proper perspective on the situation you are in. As a result, you not only stay connected to your experience, but also identify yourself as something more than your experience. This enables you to accept the feel yourself as the spacious openness of conscious awareness.

However, a peaceful mind does not mean a mind devoid of thoughts, sensations and emotions. When we begin to be mindful, we think we must suppress all thoughts and feelings. Concentrating on breath or an object should not done for suppression of whatever is arising in your conscious awareness. Because suppression only leads to avoidance or denial. Instead when you accept, observe and follow what arises in the light of awareness, it leads to enlightenment of your true self.

Mindfulness & State of well-being

Training your mind to be in the present moment is the number one key to making healthier choices.

Susan Albers

Everyday distractions can keep you from experiencing the joy of simply being— a state of body and mind in which you feel whole, grounded and deeply connected to yourself.

State of well-being can be achieved by a regular practice of meditation. And this can be done in different ways. Insight meditation is where you observe thoughts and emotions or sensations that arise in your awareness without judgment or expectation. This increases your focus and helps you maintain your physical as well as mental well-being.

Then there is zen meditation which says you must have a very quiet mind. It involves disciplining oneself, being aware of every moment or developing present moment awareness. Yoga is a form of meditation where you join together the mind, the body and the higher self. But no matter what system you follow, or you go from one to another, freedom is essential as it is the intrinsic nature of the mind. Once you see the truth with your own light of awareness, you will be able to go beyond perception and be available to your moment.

Mindfulness helps in shifting your perspective

Our thoughts are invisible, yet they have power to influence how we perceive the work around us. We experience negative and positive thoughts. They either make you feel you are capable of great things, or they might make you feel you aren’t good enough or helpless at times. Whether it’s thinking that you are capable or that you are helpless, thoughts get their power from our body’s reaction to them. So, when you bring your thoughts into your conscious awareness, you develop an ability to change them or shift your perspective, so your body responds accordingly. It can change your perspective to more positive and more connected to the world around you.

To-do;

Do not limit your mindfulness practices just to few breathing sessions. Extend them to other areas of your life, like for instance, hobbies and activities that you enjoy can be forms of meditation. When you become engrossed in an activity, you find your flow and in a way, you are doing light meditation. Indulging in your creative pursuits can be a great way to be present and mindful.

Slow down when you are doing your daily chores. For instance, making conscious choices in choosing what to eat, chewing your food or eating mindfully, being present to your surroundings when you are walking, or staying aware of your body sensations while experiencing stress etc., can help you tap into feelings of peace and joy.

Practice deep breathing techniques. Instead of taking short rapid breaths, practice abdominal breathing. Slowing down and becoming conscious of your inhalations and exhalations calms you further and increases your energy.

Welcome emotions and thoughts that are present, without trying to suppress or judge. No matter how uncomfortable your emotions may make you feel, remind yourself that they are temporary. Treat emotions as messengers and welcome your experience just as it is instead of negating or denying.

Nourish your intention to be more in being in your conscious awareness. Be patient with yourself and build your mindfulness practice everyday, a little and often. Experiencing your wholeness enables you to recover a sense of unchanging and ever present peace and well-being.

“Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

Thich Nhát Hanh

None of us are ever going to get to the place in life where we have no more disappointments. We can’t expect to be sheltered from every little thing. Disappointment is a fact of life–one that must be dealt with.

Joyce Meyer

It is a common phenomenon that when we misjudge a situation, or when our hopes fail to manifest, we experience a sense of bewilderment which is almost too much to bear. We all feel this way from time to time. It is a source of psychological stress and in some situations, it can be detrimental to our physical and mental well-being. 

Unlike the feeling of regret where we focus primarily focus on the personal choices that contribute to poor outcome, disappointment is more to do with focusing on the outcome itself. When we primarily focus on the outcomes rather than our actions and choices, such an emotional state can be quite overwhelming. 

According to researchers, frequent feelings of being let down are linked to a brain chemical called dopamine. It links our actions, experiences, people and environment to pleasure and coaxes us to recreate those circumstances in pursuit of the same feeling. Because of which we raise expectations about the future to predict what’s rewarding and motivates us to seek it. 

Disappointment thus is a subjective response related to anticipated rewards. And in most situations, this is what sets us up for dissatisfaction. We tend to use our past experience to predict whether or not our present situation makes us feel best. And when the present doesn’t match our expectations we feel doubly disappointed. In a way, it is just the action of your brain readjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were. 

Disappointment and expectations 

“Expectation is the only seed of disappointment.” – Mokokoma Mokhonoana

When we experience disappointment, our expectations fall out of line with reality. The level to which we feel disappointed is often depends on the nature of our desire. Our desire for something we hope for is what makes disappointment a more complex emotion to deal with. Expectations are more paradoxical when it comes to experiencing disappointment. This is because even when we do get what we want, we may still feel disappointed if the outcome doesn’t bring the expected bliss and happiness. Unhappiness from the failure of something hoped for or expected to happen is the most apt reason. Expectations or preferences when perceived as an ego threat also leads to more guilt and anxiety. 

The way we handle disappointment is related to our past conditioning and our early, formative experiences. Optimism might come to your aid in recovering from certain disappointments, but it may not always prepare you for emotional cushioning in case of unexpected consequences or situations. If you think setting your goals low and avoiding taking risks prevents disappointment, then you are only setting yourself up for more dissatisfied life. And same holds true for overachievers. They too give into their perfectionist attitude and invariably it too often leads to disappointment. The tendency to attribute negative life events to your personal feelings leads to lot of self-blame. Not measuring up to the image of your ideal self can further harm your confidence.

Not having expectations in the first place isn’t however realistically possible. Imagine trying to have no thoughts or ideas about how something should be or might go is obviously not possible. Also, disappointment is not meant to destroy us. If taken in our stride and handled well, it leads us to greater insight and wisdom. But to be able to do this is to follow the path of self-reflection. Only by reflecting on painful associations, you will be able to become free of them.

Validation through self-reflection

Reflecting on your experiences through naming a feeling can help you cope in a healthy way. Validating means accepting that you couldn’t achieve what you hoped for or that you are disappointed. Have you ever created an emotion or tried making an emotion go away. You might be pretty much aware that things won’t happen that way. Once we feel disappointed about something, it is there until it fades or passes. This happens regardless of how upsetting or uncomfortable they are at first. This may vary depending on the intensity of the situation. But however intense they may be they all fade with time. 

So, acknowledge instead of ignoring, minimising or distracting yourself from unpleasant feelings and remind yourself that it’s okay to have those feelings.Accepting disappointing circumstances, despite your emotional reaction can make things less uncomfortable. 

Self-compassion is the antidote of disappointment 

Disappointing situations or outcomes can make us question our choices, ambitions,  self-worth and our abilities. Not able to living up to our true potential invites unpleasant emotions like shame, fear and guilt. In such situations, being overly critical of ourselves can increase anxiety about it. Whereas self-compassion helps you to refocus and become more able. Research shows that people with higher levels of self-compassion tend to handle stress better. They spend less time reactivating stressful events by dwelling on them. 

The first step in becoming self-compassionate is to accept what went wrong. And instead of self-judging, treat yourself as you would treat a friend. Just like the way you’d be supportive and kind and listen to what exactly went wrong, treating yourself exactly same way can help ease the self blame. Give yourself enough time and space to realise where your plans went off the track. 

Respond to your unpleasant emotions and thoughts with understanding, patience, and acceptance rather than with harsh self-criticism. The ability to forgive ourselves for mistakes, large and small is important for psychological well-being. When you view your disappointment as proof of your inadequacy, it just leaves you feeling more isolated and disconnected. Instead, consider misjudgment or mistakes as part of the larger human condition. This way, you can reframe your connection to others and embrace your disappointment as an intrinsic part of simply being human. 

But you know that disappointment is just the action of your brain readjusting itself to reality after discovering things are not the way you thought they were.

Brad Warner

To-do:

Practising mindfulness let’s you observe what you are thinking and feeling rather than trying to avoid difficult emotions or to over-identify with them. Give yourself time to reflect on what went wrong or was the outcome predictable, or that you could have put in more effort or was it outside of your control. Being curious of the reason rather than focusing on the feeling of disappointment equips you to better cope. 

Check whether your expectations are unrealistically high or are you setting your goals too low. If your goals are too high, work constructively to modify your expectations and focus on how you want to feel in the moment, rather than how you believe you’ll feel once you get the thing you want so badly. Instead of pinning your hopes on unrealistic outcomes, break your larger goals into small manageable steps.

Indulging in social media comparisons makes you set unrealistic expectations from yourself and others. If you see others reach their goals quicker, you can become disappointed for not reaching yours. Reevaluate your perception and behaviours. Set your own milestones, be it your career, relationships or academics and stay focused on the process of reaching them no matter how long it takes to get there.

When something doesn’t go according to our plan, we may interpret it to mean that we can’t have what we want. It is important to keep an eye on what you truly want and at the same time stay open to various ways that the outcome can be realised. Particularly when you are going after something new that you really care about. Strive for improvement and not perfection. 

Some instances of disappointment are predictable and preventable. But there are others that are unavoidable and beyond our control. Try and differentiate between situations that fall within our control and factors that are beyond it. Being able to recognise the difference will help you to deal with your frustrations more appropriately. 

The more you dwell on the disappointment, the more it will hurt and disrupt your ability to focus, concentrate or be creative. Give yourself limited time to acknowledge the feelings and move on. There is always a next opportunity regardless of what disappointed you. View your disappointment as an opportunity for growth and to your actions to achieve your goals. 

Avoid for any mind altering things or engaging in impulsive behaviours. Explore the thought processes that led to your feelings of disappointment. Instead of blaming yourself, or circumstances, reframe your disappointments as learning experiences.

The thing about being unpleasant emotions like disappointment is that it reveals what you actually care about, where you are and where you want to be. They might mean you are passionate about something. Even though you feel like shying away from things that aren’t turning out your way, taking time to learn from your unpleasant experiences, you will be more prepared than ever before the next time you face such situations. 


Ego: An obstruction in self-realisation

“The ego seeks to divide and separate. Spirit seeks to unify and heal.” Pema Chodron Self-awareness is very important for self-realisation and is the key to spiritual growth and enlightenment. Knowingness of self can be our greatest resource in the path to enlightenment, but most of the times, ego becomes a major obstacle to self-realisation.… Continue reading Ego: An obstruction in self-realisation