“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

The quote above is from Carl Gustav Jung. Jung was a Swiss Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst who at a young age, relative to his contemporaries, received respect and admiration from the father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. That is my favourite quote from him. I came by this quote during a difficult period of my life spanning from late 2012 through late 2013. I was deeply depressed and had recently begun the journey of dealing with past traumas. During this time my life made little sense and I regularly experienced dissociation. It’s safe to say that this quote and other similar knowledge, saved my life.

Pain and suffering did not suddenly lift and I did not gain some mystical enlightenment. The shift for me was realising that the power to shape my reality chiefly rested in my grasp. I needed to become aware of what was driving my path, then I could dictate my own path. Emotions thought spirituality, habits, wisdom and knowledge are all things I could take control of and self-direct; the first step in each of these, awareness.

I now make awareness a priority in all things I do and I seek every opportunity to gain more of it. This list is not exhaustive, but it contains the activities I’ve found to be the most effective at cultivating awareness in my daily life.

1. Meditation.

The main thing I learned through my many false starts on the journey of meditating is patience.; expectations of what it should be and how quickly it must be that thing is your enemy. Simply be curious and patient and before you know it, meditation will permeate all aspects of your life, bringing with it peace and awareness on a plane you’ve rarely experienced before. I’ve used many apps for meditation and the one that has helped me stay consistent and gentle is Headspace. It's packed with courses and helpful tips on how to meditate and sleep and most recently group meditations.

2. Journaling.

Whether you prefer paper and pen, video recording or a notes app, this is likely the simplest of the awareness habits to practise with the greatest reward. I journal in 2 parts; morning pages & evening pages. In the morning I write down a few affirmations and a goal for the day, which sets my attention and energy. In the evening I journal on what I am grateful for and on how I could have improved the day. All in all, I journal for about 4 minutes a day and the impact of this tiny time commitment has been overwhelmingly positive. I use Grid Diary to make this as simple as possible.

3. Reading.

No, audiobooks don’t count. What we are searching for when adopting reading as a daily habit is to increase the capacity of the working memory and to expand the attention span; reading, from physical books or from a screen, serves to do just that. Reading for 10 minutes a day is a great start and you will soon find yourself unable to resist the urge to go for even longer.

These habits do not seem like much in the beginning but you will soon find them shaping and improving your relationships and decisions. The key to being able to install and sustain all these habits is to go realise it is more important to become someone who meditates, writes and reads regularly. Awareness is where our power for self-direction lies; be kind and consistent in this and watch as life embraces you back.