Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meditation IV: Awareness

Self-awareness is one of the distinguishing human capacities. Admittedly, some animals - chimpanzees for example - exhibit self awareness when placed before a mirror. However, humans have an internal mirror for constant self-reflection and self-discovery. Human self-awareness is also not limited to a recognition of the body, but of emotion, intellect, imagination, and even of self-awareness itself. Furthermore, the human is able to articulate his self-reflection and come to a profound and explicit understanding of himself.

This is highly advantageous, for in knowing oneself one can come to function in sync with his psychological and physiological makeup. Furthermore, identification of one's strengths and weaknesses allows weaknesses to be worked on and improved, and talents to be cultivated.

The type of self-awareness under discussion is not to be confused with narcissism, diffidence, or self-centeredeness, which are distinct maladies of the spirit. In narcissism one is obsessed with his/her own beauty and appearance; in diffidence one is self-conscious to the point of inhibited functioning and spontaneity; and in self centredeness one is disproportionately focused on gratifying one's own desires over those of others. In all three cases self-awareness is not intentional but a fixation. In healthy self awareness, however, one intentionally pays attention to one's behaviour, feelings, and thinking, in order to learn about and improve oneself. In fact, it's through real self awareness that one may become cognizant of and overcome the above mentioned three conditions.          

Skateboarding can serve as a microcosm for attaining authentic self-awareness in many aspects of one's being. Here are a few examples:

What is my overall approach to fear management: Do I avoid fearful manoeuvres? Do I recklessly attempt them without giving thought to the risks involved in their performance? Or, do I consider the risks involved and take the necessary precautions to minimize injury?

What is my approach to improvement? Do I have a systematic, theory based approach, or do I progress through the inefficient process of trial and error?

What is my attitude toward those that skate better than me? Do I envy them or praise them? Do I feel inspired or threatened by them?

Why do I skateboard altogether? Do I need exercise? Because my friends do so? Because it's a fun activity and I have nothing better to do? Because I need an escape from the stress of life?

The discoveries made about oneself  through skateboarding can be generalized to other aspects of one's life and result in tremendous all round self-development...  



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