Awareness, Awareness

Living the spiritual life is anything but being a robot or a sleep walker. For a spiritually centered life, we need self-awareness. It anchors our life in reality. Not for creating scruples, but for living a creative, deep spiritual life.

Self-awareness is a heightened consciousness of the presence, depth and source of the movements (thoughts, feelings, impulses, desires, moods) in our interior life in response to forces within us and to reality outside us. These movements take place spontaneously. Usually we don’t cause them, but they are very forceful—for good or for evil.

Further, true self-awareness requires that we be deeply aware of what has happened in our past, what is happening now, and what we want to happen in the future, and how these three time frames are impacting our interior movements in the present.

Awareness of Past. However we define Original Sin, the fact is that there is a basic flaw in our human nature that alienates us from ourselves, God and others. We are faced with this on-going struggle which produces movements in our interior life. Deep awareness of our human condition can lead us to an understanding of our woundedness and our need for healing, and of our powerlessness to achieve healing, necessitating our dependency on the Spirit to bring it about.

Are we deeply aware of the psychological movements within us? They may be due to our historical background, such as who were our parents, in what city we grew up, what happened as we progressed through school, through life. Our life history has impacted us.

Are we deeply aware of our personality type and how it influences our interior life?  Early in life, we became a head person, a heart person or a gut person. But as mature adults, we must be all three to become a fully integrated person and grow in spirituality.

Awareness of Present. The source of our interior movements might be biological. A sleepless night. A cold. Awareness of our biology can prevent unChristlike behavior.

Is the source our interior movements spiritual or evil? Are we truly aware of being in consolation or desolation? If in consolation, where is the Spirit leading us? Why are we not thanking God for His consolation? If in desolation, we must be on guard against the enemy’s deceits.

We can pray, “God, I am grateful.” But we may be just saying words. Everything that we are or have is God’s gifts to us. Are we really aware of our debt of gratitude to God? How deep is our gratitude? Have we made gratefulness a part of our lives? If we are deeply aware, we can experience gratitude seeping through our being.

Take petitioning for the light to understand our interior life. Again, we may be just using words. How aware are we of our need for the Spirit’s enlightenment? We must pray earnestly for the grace of awareness to discern the movements within our interior life.

Are we acting out of compassion for others—being fully present in a caring, attentive way, or are we acting out of a judgmental mode? Awareness can save us.

We are barraged by advertising and entertainment messages that reach down into our interior life, appealing to our woundedness. Awareness is our protection.

Awareness of Future. By future, we mean what we want to become—our personal vision. Our vision can empower us to live life more fully and creatively. We can define “vision” as our set of attitudes—toward God, self, others, life and reality. However, we must be deeply aware of our attitudes in order for our vision to impact the movements of our interior life—our thoughts, our feelings, our desires, our inspirations. Here is a helpful spiritual exercise. Write a short Vision for Life prayer based on your desired attitudes, and keep it fresh in your mind by daily recitation. Here is my daily prayer:

Vision for Life 

My God, be the center of my life.

Let me see all through your eyes.

Let me see myself as beloved by you.

Let me see others as my brothers and sisters.

Let me see life and creation as your gifts to me.


Jesus, let me see you as a model of compassion to others.

Let me see your presence in community,

As the source of Spirit-empowerment.

Let me see your presence in community,

As the source of my faith in community prayer and action.


Spirit of Jesus, let me see you as my Higher Power

Who guides me and enlightens me.

Let me see you as the source of my courage to act and to lead,

Completing Christ’s mission.

Let me see you as my power to live the discipline of love.


The article, Living the Spiritual Life, introduced the Awareness Examen as an effective spiritual exercise to awaken our awareness of the Spirit’s involvement in our lives. Use that same exercise to grow in self-awareness. Both are intimately connected.

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