Consciousness can be viewed as energy

Conscious life - what does that even mean?

Our desire for more awareness is not only reflected in relation to social issues. The leitmotif “Conscious Living” accompanies many people through their personal everyday lives. Conscious feeling and acting are the prerequisites for such a life. Easier said than done. Because we are all exposed to internal and external influences, often unnoticed. We solve problems using proven heuristics, i.e. predefined problem-solving patterns. Nevertheless, we believe that we made decisions consciously. How can we recognize such automatisms in everyday life?

What is consciousness An overview

In order to get a feel for how we can be more conscious with ourselves, we first have to clarify what consciousness actually is. This is not an easy undertaking, because consciousness is not tangible for us. The classification of the term is correspondingly complicated. Numerous thinkers and scientists have racked their brains over it. What is consciousness Where does it come from and how is it influenced? Let's get an overview.

The concept of consciousness in philosophy

Philosophy was the first of all disciplines to attempt to express human consciousness in words. The big question was the relationship between consciousness, also called “spirit” or “soul”, to the body and thus to the material world.

Plato and Aristotle

Plato believed that the soul outlived the body. He assumed that the soul is capable of knowledge and can arrive at absolute truth independently of the changeable world. His student Aristotle, on the other hand, was convinced that body and soul form a solid unit. These two approaches are referred to as “dualism” or “monism” (Latin “dualis” = “containing two”, Greek “mónos” = “alone, only”). The dispute between the two positions did not lead to a solution for a long time. The so-called body-soul problem lasted until a French philosopher came up with the brilliant idea.

© CC0 / morhamedufmg

Even ancient Greek philosophers were concerned about consciousness.

René Descartes

Probably the best-known principle in philosophy should combine the opposing views: "Cogito, ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am"). With his brief but to the point, René Descartes explained in 1641 the inevitable interaction between body and mind. Then thoughts and matter influence each other and both have their right to exist.

The concept of consciousness in psychology

To this day, philosophy has not been able to clearly delimit the concept of consciousness. Yet it made a difference: it challenged younger disciplines such as psychology to further explore the blind spots of human consciousness. Psychologists have been developing scientific methods since the 19th century that should make our consciousness more tangible.

By inventing technical aids, researchers were ultimately not only able to speculate, but also to locate our consciousness better and better. Imaging methods in the neurosciences are now able to make many mental processes visible. They make it possible to identify similarities as well as differences in the processing of thoughts, feelings and memories in the different brain regions.

The concept of consciousness in science

The natural sciences have contributed to a new understanding of consciousness. Accordingly, consciousness is the experience of mental states and processes that are implemented in the brain by biochemical molecules and electrical impulses. These processes can be influenced naturally and without outside interference. However, it can sometimes also be changed under the influence of substances or with the help of third parties.

In psychology one speaks of states of consciousness when different levels of human consciousness are reached, e.g. B. in meditation. Meditation or autosuggestion is a good example that we humans can control and change our consciousness. So it makes sense that we turn our attention to our consciousness. In this way we influence our perception of the world around us, but also the perception of ourselves.

© CC0 / cottonbro

Through meditation we are brought into deep relaxation, which among other things reduces stress.

Living consciously means avoiding multitasking

Not all stimuli from our immediate environment penetrate our consciousness. Most of the time this is a good thing, because we are exposed to countless sensory stimuli every day. Our brain inevitably has to filter out information for us that could be important for our survival. The human brain is complex and has capabilities that we cannot fully grasp to this day. Nevertheless, it is quickly overwhelmed when it is supposed to process several stimuli at the same time.

Strictly speaking, we can only follow one “thread” with full attention. It is only slightly different with automated processes. If we have practiced something many times and mastered it in our sleep, we can do several things at the same time. Multitasking gets by with a less concentrated perception that can be quickly redirected.

The constant change in perception, however, means that information is hardly processed beyond the short attention span. You are, so to speak, prevented from going down in the annals of long-term memory. Without phases of consolidation, without internalization, we can often no longer remember events and have to laboriously reconstruct them. From an evolutionary point of view, humans have a tendency to multitask in order to be able to react quickly to dangers. But at the same time he is a social being. And in the community, attention can be better distributed over several shoulders, which relieves the individual.

Lead a conscious life with rest and regeneration

In order to act consciously and to be prepared for dangerous situations, humans and animals have to go through cyclical phases of rest and regeneration. Sleep is therefore an ingenious invention of biology. In humans, its function is not limited to regenerative processes, but also to internalizing experiences and storing energy. Rest and retreat are the energy sources for our consciousness.

In a society that sees performance as its most important evaluation criterion, however, we hardly come to rest. Our consciousness also changes at the rate. You could say that we no longer want to be conscious because of the hectic pace and the constant demand for productivity.

The human brain needs periods of rest in order to regenerate and process new stimuli. The human being as a whole also needs the time to regenerate in order to be able to pursue his consciousness or to switch to different states of consciousness. Sleep, meditation, daydreaming and flow experiences are, so to speak, the health resorts for our consciousness. We can relax in it and recharge our batteries.

© CC0 / Craig Adderley

Restful sleep is important for our awareness - here you will find tips on how to fall asleep better.

In a reality full of comparisons and opportunities for distraction, however, it is not easy to take a break. Only from preoccupation with what consciousness is can conscious action arise. We have to know ourselves and be able to distinguish the important stimuli from the unimportant ones. Then it is easier for us to make the decisions that we consciously want to make and that make us satisfied.

Conscious living - avoiding dissonance

If we don't take the time to make conscious decisions, there is a risk of dissonance. This is a term from psychology. Among other things, it describes the contradiction between our values ​​and our actions. We feel an inner tension when we do not behave according to our self-image. If we do not then take the time to deal with our actions, there is a risk that we will regret it. People who want to be at peace with themselves pursue feelings of dissonance. Before making important decisions, they try to pause consciously and look for their personal answers.

Make responsible decisions for a conscious life

Awareness creates vivid memories. On the one hand, we take time for an experience and experience it consciously. On the other hand, in retrospect we still know exactly why we behaved this way and not differently. Such action can be painful and exhausting at times and we would sometimes prefer to leave our decisions to others. Nevertheless, adapting to the external circumstances and shifting one's responsibility onto the circumstances is neither impressive nor extraordinary. On the other hand, it is brave to deal with your own values ​​and to live a responsible life. So awareness requires the courage we need to change the world.

What does the path to a conscious life look like?

There is no secret recipe for greater awareness. But there are numerous strategies how we can come into a permanent exchange with our consciousness through contact with ourselves. Everyone will find the right approach for themselves in a different method.

© CC0 / Rahul Shah

Browsing through a book and switching off other sources of interference - that too can help to live more consciously.

The nice thing is that awareness cannot be forced. Sometimes it happens unexpectedly that you are deeply aware of yourself. Reacting to these signals with attention and using them well for yourself is the real art. Here are some suggestions for living consciously.

10 tips for a more conscious life

  1. Remember that certain thoughts, values, associations and world views have been learned or acquired. We have appropriated them because we believe that this is the only way to comply with social norms. Be very conscious of your assumptions about the world.
  2. Withdraw from the “crowd”. In groups, people behave more appropriately in order to avoid conflicts. Take the risk of being perceived as "different" by those around you. Have confidence in yourself.
  3. Avoid provocations or temptations in a targeted manner. Do not be tempted into reactions that contradict your attitude and your desired self-image.
  4. Find out specific and detailed information about certain topics. Developing an attitude of your own will help you to know and maintain your personal limits. Even in situations in which it is difficult for you to believe in your values.
  5. Get help and that way you will buy yourself time. Just like us, consciousness is dependent on resources.
  6. Use relaxation techniques and treat yourself to rest in between. Create small islands of awareness in everyday life.
  7. Practice self-care. Take some time for yourself.
  8. Buy consciously. Take your time and buy what you really need in good quality. Make use of the share economy and consume consciously.
  9. Really listen to other people. Refrain from putting your own opinion in the foreground. Get involved with your counterpart.
  10. Concentrate fully on one activity. Turn off all sources of interference. You may even succeed in getting into the flow.

 

Image sources

  • Greek pilosopers: © CC0 / morhamedufmg
  • meditation: © CC0 / cottonbro
  • restful sleep: © CC0 / Craig Adderley
  • book reading: © CC0 / Rahul Shah
  • conscious-living: © CC0 / Spencer Selover

Agata F.

As an author, Agata is still green behind the ears, but the raccoon assistant is all the more crazy about green ideas. It is difficult for her to part with used items, because she simply prefers to collect handicraft experience than receipts. A little idealist lives in it, who enjoys drawing her stories out of the world - whether traveling, chatting with people living there or through exciting reading. She draws inspiration from encounters with people who are optimistic and unconventional looking for solutions.