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Posted 4 months ago
“Awareness” can often be interchanged with numerous terms: consciousness, mindfulness, or presence. This brings me to a concept I read in DeMello’s book, "Awareness". Surprisingly, this term has a lot to do with our nursing careers. How can this be?
Awareness means observing, self-observation without judgment or interference. Just simply observing and noticing. It is not labeling or thinking or remembering or any of that. It is not bringing in what we have already experienced or know. It is simply watching the present moment. DeMello writes:
“Self-observation means to watch everything in you and around you as far as possible and watch it as if it were happening to someone else. It means that you do not personalize what is happening to you. It means that you look at things as if you have no connection with them whatsoever.”
What does this have to do with our work, our patients, or our profession? Well, I don’t know about you but I hear things at work or read about topics in nursing magazines or journals like this:
Sometimes these issues are self-inflicted. Nurses that are unhappy, dissatisfied, unhealthy, or restless (inside their minds) are more likely to choose certain paths when it comes to their communication, teamwork, and productivity.
Here is an example: A nurse arrives at work and receives her assignment for the day. She looks around at who is working and thinks to herself, “This stinks; Sally’s not here today. No one is helpful. I’m all alone. I’m unhappy.” And the monkey mind goes on and on.
Well, the thoughts running through this nurse’s head are not the truth. She is not “unhappy”. Instead, to be more accurate, she might say “I’m experiencing unhappiness right now.” She is not her unhappiness. We are not our emotions. Unhappiness may be inside of you right now, but it won’t last. It keeps changing. Our emotions always change.
So what we want to do is passively observe our thoughts. We are not to interfere. We are not to “fix”. We are just to watch and observe. Instead of trying to “fix” everything, we must understand things. Understand by observing. Understand them and they will change.
How can we try this? Well, a simple technique is to just observe you. Even as you read this, be aware of how you are feeling right now. What are you experiencing in your body? What is happening in your mind? Are you reading these words with concentration, focus, and a clear mind? Or are you thinking of what else you have to do today or tonight or tomorrow? What is your emotional state? Be aware of your presence in this room. It is as if you are outside of yourself looking at yourself.
Practicing this technique of observation each day will enhance your awareness of self. Once we are more aware of ourselves we are more able to observe our thoughts and how they are making us feel. We can take control of our thoughts and emotions. We can empower ourselves to enhance our experience. And then, as nurses, we can bring these tools to our work day so that we are healthier, happier, and more productive with our role.