As children we have a strong tendency to pay attention to everything that happens to us or which surrounds us. Accompanied by that eager and open ability to perceive everything that happens to us, we take our first steps in terms of learning. However, with the passage of time, our sense of perception diminishes, giving way to a fully-absorbed life in which our sense of awareness weakens. When we reach this stage of life, what has happened to our sense of perception and how does this change affect our emotions?
Our attention wanders reactively from one image to another, from one emotion to another, in a compulsive manner that we call “digression”, which seriously weakens our capacity for learning, empathy and tranquillity.
And that which we call “our real self” appears to us to be missing, distant, like an object that we need to find. Because of this, life becomes a constant effort to establish goals “to have or to be”. Achievements which we believe will allow us to find ourselves and “be happy” if we can accomplish them.
A digressive life progresses accompanied by the stress and anxiety which are produced by the search for one’s “missing” self. This is a state which is fed by the effort of chasing goals through which we dream of “becoming whole”.
It is important to emphasise that, by being aware of the present, we can gain a sense of having achieved the goal we have been chasing for so long. When we live in a self-aware manner, we live as we really are. We accept ourselves as we are. When we live in the now, we are already within ourselves and we don’t need to find ourselves.
When we live in the now, our sense of tranquillity, harmony and inner peace grows.
That is why we believe that, whatever degree of awareness or level of satisfaction of their needs a person may have achieved, if they are able to maintain their awareness in respect of the reality in which they live, they will be able to reach that state of harmony associated with living in the present. This is why we think it makes sense to develop a stimulation programme to use when working with people with mental health problems, which lets us teach them how to live in the present. The aim of all this is to help people to overcome the anxiety and stress that are related to living a digressive life.
It may be that working on being aware of the present, when carried out with people with mental health problems, isn’t enough to do more than enable them to reach that level of harmony produced by living incidentally in the now. It may be that working on being aware of the present, when carried out with people with mental health problems, doesn’t allow them to reach as high a level of attentiveness as that of self-observation. The level of attentiveness necessary to experience that which I describe doesn’t necessarily correspond with what I perceive (which allows me to understand that my valuations are solely to do with me and not with the stimulus that produces them). However, we believe that working on awareness exercises will help us to provide patients with calming and harmonious experiences which will help to improve their quality of life and that of those around them.