How often do we find ourselves drifting listlessly through the day, playing out the same old routine? Working life sometimes feels designed to get us to switch off, eating, sleeping, working and repeating our weekly pattern ad nauseum.
If we feel stuck in a rut, the solution doesn’t always need to be drastic. Simply making the choice to be awake, to ourselves and the wider world, can rejuvenate our daily lives in the here and now.
Just as we can sometimes feel like we’re sleepwalking through work, it’s easy to do the same with our inner life – locked in to thought patterns, beliefs and behaviours that we don’t even notice. The line between which thought patterns are problematic and which are simply aspects of our underlying personality is often hard to discern, especially when we’ve lived with them for so long.
When these patterns are negative, overly critical, pessimistic or cynical about the world around us, we can become locked in a depressive state of mind that is hard see a way out of. In this respect our external and internal lives are bound together. Rigid, unchanging routine can dampen our sense of spontaneity and enjoyment, while a fearful, negative attitude causes us to seek out the comforts of predictability.
Can We Break These Patterns?
Breaking out of this somnambulant state requires us to be intentional, ‘awake’ to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Noticing our emotional response as things happen throughout the day gives us the opportunity to step in with our conscious mind – challenging negativity or building upon moments of happiness.
Being awake means really noticing what is going around us and within us, noticing actively rather than subconsciously. Throughout the day, are we registering information or merely receiving it?
Taking the time to notice details in the world can be a welcome distraction from troubling, recurrent thoughts. The colour of the sky, the sound of the street, the pattern on a leaf; acknowledging these impressions without words or concepts allows us to be truly present in the moment. When we choose to be awake each day, we begin to feel the boundless possibilities and reinvigorating energy of life itself.