Develop your awareness to find the still point at your centre
Develop your awareness to find the still point at your centre.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a guaranteed way to reduce stress, boost your mental and emotional wellbeing and enhance your interpersonal experience – all at the same time?
The wheel of awareness meditation, developed by neurobiologist Dr Dan Siegel, does just that. It uses the symbol of a wheel – central hub, spokes and outer rim – to help you gain insight into who you are and what matters most to you. It’s quite a detailed meditation, but practised regularly, can bring a deep sense of peace and purpose to your life.
Begin by closing your eyes and becoming aware of your breath, then draw your attention inwards. After a few moments, direct your awareness out to the rim of an imagined wheel. Divided into four quarters, each section of the rim represents a different element of conscious experience – sensory awareness, physical sensation, introspection and connection.
The first quadrant relates to how you draw the outside world in, via your five senses. From your centre, imagine extending a spoke out to the rim of the wheel and allow your attention to rest on the sense of hearing – the sounds in the room, the building and outside the building. Let them fill your experience, then imagine moving the spoke to the sense of sight. With your eyes slightly open, give your complete attention to what you see. Continue in this way with taste, smell and touch, each time allowing your experience to fill the hub of your awareness. Take a deep breath in, let it go, then visualise moving the spoke to the second quadrant.
Now rest your attention inside your body. Do a body scan by taking your awareness to the whole of your body, attuning to your muscles, bones and organs, and noticing if you can sense any heat, coolness, movement or difference in density. Finish by resting your attention on your heart, then take a deep breath, let go and move the spoke to the third quarter of the rim.
Here you focus on mental activities – thoughts, memories, beliefs, images, plans, feelings and desires. First, open your mind to whatever comes forward, whether a thought, emotion or memory, and notice how it feels. Next, bring your attention to how a thought or feeling arises. Does it appear suddenly or slowly? Observe how it feels while it’s present (Is it constant? Does it intensify?), then be aware of how it leaves your awareness (Instantly? Immediately replaced by another thought?). If you can, be aware also of the space between your thoughts. What does that feel like? Again, when you’re finished, take a deep breath in, let go and move the spoke to the final quarter.
This section is about interconnectedness, so spend some time reflecting on and feeling the connection you have with your family, friends and the communities you’re a part of (your neighbourhood, workplace and clubs you attend). Next, expand this awareness to include your county, country and eventually the entire globe. Finally, extend thoughts of loving kindness both to your communities and yourself. Finish with a deep inhale and exhale.
The wheel of awareness is a quietly powerful meditation and, as you practise it over time, you’ll begin to deeply appreciate that you are not your thoughts or your emotions, but the one who observes them.