Often before I begin instructing yogis in their practice on the mat, I ask them to set an intention for their practice, many times suggesting that they carry this out of the room and into the rest of their day. The significance of this is important because it cultivates the act of being mindful.
How many times do you walk into a store where people are obliviously talking in the middle of an isle, blocking the pathway for others waiting to get around them? How many times do you see cars cut other cars off on the freeway or can recall other events where you are witness to seeing someone else go about life completely unaware (maybe their zipper is down, their shirt is full of ketchup, etc)? Maybe you are this person.
To become more aware in your everyday, you have to go out into life with an intention or maybe a few. Mindfulness and awareness are the lock that the power of your intent has the key to unlock. Mindfulness and awareness are the same concepts with different connotations, each backed by the same initial action, called intention. Being mindful and aware both apply to body language, words, thoughts, pursuits, etc. I like to think of being mindful as having a more outward connotation. For example, you are mindful that if you leave your grocery cart in the middle of an isle, it would block the path for others. Awareness, on the other hand, has more of an inward connotation. You can be aware of a friend’s feelings, aware of the consequences a future action might have, or aware that someone else is unaware, etc. Intention is what you begin with. If you intend to “do the right thing,” you will be mindful that “it is not right” to leave your cart in the middle of the isle, or that “it is not right” to suggest you and your friend watch that love story movie you’ve been wanting to see, since you are aware your friend just broke up with her boyfriend and therefore might not be in the mood for a sappy love story.
Having an intention sets the tone and pace for the life you live. Practicing compassion for yourself is one example of this, which means that you have intended to treat yourself more kindly; eventually effectively seeping it’s way into the rest of your life, changing the way you interact with others. I bet you can tell when someone is having a bad day; it seems to be “written all over their face.” What do you intend to have written all over yours?