Deliberately paying attention to myself does not change what I am – does it change what I live and how I live it? 

Commentary by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

We can live in many different ways, among them, distractedly or attentively.  If we do it distractedly the most basic survival instincts are those that hold sway over our lives.  We are moved by fear, the desire for success and the search for security.   Often the above make us see others as rivals or possible threats.  When all this happens without us noticing it, we just react to what occurs, and often we give responses that have nothing to do with the external situation but with the fears and defensive attitudes that are ingrained in us and maintain an exaggerated desire to protect ourselves. It is a way of life that we all know very well.  It is the most automatic that exists, you only need to let yourself be carried along by it, but it is pretty exhausting always being, to some extent, on the defensive. This gives rise to our most selfish forms of behaviour because we only look to protect ourselves, to succeed.

There is another way of living and it is not automatic. 

It requires us to fulfil our intention in order to do it. 

It requires us to pay attention to those mechanisms that we use to defend ourselves, the self-deceptions, the justifications, the pursuit of desires and small compensatory pleasures, our fears and worries, emotions and thoughts, beliefs and automatic judgements.  Awareness is ingrained in us, but it is necessary to use it to observe what happens to us at the moment we feel it.  When we learn to do it, all of this self-defensive world that we have put in place, ceases to have its usual intensity, and allows us to understand, to know and to gain the peace given to us by having the power to be able to give the response we choose. Therefore when you pay attention to your inner life, you feel that what you experience is different, your self-protective instincts, your selfishness and your fears are not altered.  It appears that nothing changes, but yet everything has changed. From the outside, nothing has changed, but a peace has emerged within you, to which you have opened the door. 

And now you hold sway over your own life.  Everything is set! 

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Deliberately paying attention to myself does not change what I am - does it change what I live and how I live it?