What is Conscious Living?

by Christina Cannes

We founded Big Beautiful Sky with one goal in mind: to inspire people to live more consciously, with awareness, and knowingly.

Conscious is, however, a confusing word. Does it mean awake and not asleep? Yes, both literally and figuratively.

We’ve known for a few decades, that if we aren’t careful, we can be completely programmed by television, media and advertising and turn into consumer zombies who go to work, come home, watch tv and then go to sleep with no mind or life of our own. Like in the Matrix, living consciously means to wake up, look around and ask yourself “what can I do to make life as amazing as possible while I’m alive?”

For starters, studies prove that fostering joy, happiness, beauty, connection, health and community leads to healthier and happier daily lives. With that in mind, we decided to find sure-fire ways to do exactly this every day, hence the birth of sunshine kollectiv.

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

― Mahatma Gandhi

Let’s Start with A Few Definitions

I scanned my bookshelf and the internet for the perfect definition of conscious living. There are lots of different versions, so I took all the best bits and condensed them into something bite-size. Here’s the mission statement for those of you looking to lead a more conscious life:

Conscious living starts by simply taking time for yourself to determine and choose the life you want. It requires taking responsibility for any negative thoughts, patterns and behaviours; raising your own self-awareness; learning from past successes and mistakes; becoming aware of how your thoughts and words impact your life; taking back your power from mindless activities and addictions; and using this inner guidance, knowledge and awareness to transform your life into a more practical, joyous, rewarding and empowering experience.

In other words, wake up! Take responsibility for what you want and make it happen!

Conscious, an adjective, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

  1. Aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.
  2. Having knowledge of something
  3. (of an action or feeling) deliberate and intentional.
    1. (of the mind or thought) directly perceptible to and under control of the person concerned.

Whereas unconscious, both an adjective and noun, is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as:

  1. Not awake and aware of and responding to one’s environment.
  2. Done or existing without one realizing.
  3. (unconscious of) Unaware of.
  4. As a noun: The part of the mind which is inaccessible to the conscious mind but which affects behaviour and emotions.

Which one do you want to apply to your life—conscious or unconscious? Which one are you currently operating on?

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

― Max Ehrmann

That’s nice, but how do we actually live consciously?

Great question, we’re so glad you asked!! Living consciously means to make each decision with awareness, thereby understanding and taking responsibility for all actions and learning to respond instead of react emotionally.

Oftentimes we learn about conscious living by living unconsciously first (cough, cough guilty)—and that’s ok—it doesn’t matter what phase you’re in, the first step is merely waking up. Then, by consciously making the decision to base your actions on awareness and responsibility, you’re already walking through the door. I’ll give you some examples of what conscious living looks like so you can start today—and if you’re already doing it, then high fives, let’s recruit everyone we can find!

  1. Checking in

The first step is asking yourself the simple question: what do I need and what do I want? All this meditation and mindfulness talk is not just talk—it’s super helpful and should be done daily. If we listen carefully, our body, our mind and our soul speaks to us.

Sit quietly and listen, openly, visualize a void and let whatever needs to come up present itself.

Are you suffering from indigestion? Do you need to eat a healthier diet?

Do you need to exercise more—how can you take better care of yourself?

Are you stressed—what are practical ways you can relieve this?

Do you miss your family—do you need to plan a holiday?

What am I addicted to—can I heal this?

Are you spending too much money—what can you do to start saving more? A

re you tired—maybe you should rest more often.

What brings you joy—make a list! Maybe you just need to find out exactly what you want and what makes you happy.

Are my relationships harmonious—are there people in my life who I should avoid?

What is your truth—do you live in alignment with that truth?

Checking in and asking these types of questions is the first step—making healthy decisions based on the answers is the next.

  1. Responding to your needs in a healthy, balanced way

Your needs and what society tells you that you need are two very different things. Discovering how you want to live and what you need is truly empowering. I know, it can be scary when you realise you want to live life differently. Have courage, faith and trust yourself—know that you are the only person who knows what you need and want and by trusting your own inner guidance, you are taking responsibility for your life. Exercising moderation in all things is also a great barometer. Jumping in head first is fun, but might not be the best approach. Changing can be a slow process and that’s ok. Learning how to understand your emotions, read what your emotions are telling you and respond calmly, rationally and with intent is a game changer!

  1. Self-care

Once you determine what you need and how to achieve that, taking care of yourself while you work towards these goals is vital. Self-care can be broken down into three categories: maintaining life balance, mental and physical health and nurturing your spirit. Radical self-care can also be an act of rebellion. Society wants us to work ourselves to death, but let me assure you, doing is out, being is in!

Know when you’re tired, when you need to take time out. Pay your bills on time and keep your bank balance on the positive side. Eat healthy and make time to exercise. Meditate and practice whatever you need to keep grounded and inspirited by the mystery of life. Ask for help if you’re stressed, play, be kind, sleep lots and drink water. Self-care is basically being the best parent to yourself that you possibly can be!

  1. Self-acceptance and celebrating what you have

We’re all given unique bodies, experiences, gifts, talents and journeys—accepting this and our limitations ensures that we stay grounded and realistic about who we are and what we hope to achieve. Do the best you can and be your own cheerleader. Learn from your mistakes, but do not take failures to heart—lessons are important and part of life. Always celebrate what you have accomplished, no matter how small, and practice gratitude for what you already have—feeling like you need more or don’t have enough, leaves us feeling empty and craving more (addictions cough, cough). By looking around and saying ‘wow, I’m doing really well,” we feel full and content.

  1. Learn to say no and be picky about what you accept

The only person we have to please is ourselves. If something does not bring you joy, just say no. Your energy and time is precious and should be spent in rewarding ways. By being picky about who you choose to spend time with and what you eat, buy, watch and read, you’ll keep negative people, energy and emotions at bay. Don’t feel guilty about disappointing someone—if they don’t understand this basic philosophy, then they probably aren’t worth keeping around.

  1. Letting go of attachment

This is one of the things I personally struggle with—and becomes more and more attainable the older I get. As years pass by, you learn that things are extremely transitory and by holding on tight to people, things and experiences, you cause yourself suffering. The house, the car, the kids, extracurricular activities, the clothes, the shoes, the job, the ideas—none of this really matters. I know, right! By practicing number 7, you’ll be able to let go much easier!

  1. Live in the moment

Worrying about the future and regretting the past used to be my favourite hobby—and then I learned how to be mindful and embrace the NOW (cue Eckhart Tolle)! Want to learn how to be mindful? Here’s a really abbreviated version of mindfulness:

Basically, all you need to do is take a deep breath, shut off your list-making brain facility and focus on your body by engaging your senses. Listen—what you can hear?  Do you smell the spring flowers or your own perfume? Are you outside or inside—what is around you? How does it feel and when you take a swig of that glass of water—refreshing? How many times do you chew to swallow the bite from your apple?  How do you feel? Breathe into those emotions and let them come up without judgement. Also, turn off your mobile phone, tv, computer and any other distractions and celebrate LIFE!

  1. Practice gratitude, forgiveness and compassion

Gratitude is being thankful for what you have, who you are and the people in your life. Showing appreciation for these aspects, by simply embodying it, journaling about it or speaking it—and returning kindness to others when they express gratitude for you and your actions is how it’s done! Two simple words sum up gratitude: thank you.

Forgiveness is the ability to let go of anger, resentment, the desire to punish or seek revenge or humiliate someone for a presumed loss, slight, ignorance, debt or mistreatment. Forgiveness is the power to transmute negative emotions into acceptance and letting go—it is ultimate freedom. Of course, forgiveness requires work. Boundaries are important—forgiveness does not mean letting others hurt you, it means protecting yourself and then stepping back to empathise and understand their perspective and then let go of your negative reaction or emotion. My personal favourites are sending love to people who have wronged you (you get back what you send out), thanking them for the lessons they taught you and forgiving yourself as well—just because we trusted someone does not make us naive.

Compassion is basically the ability to empathize with someone, especially in regards to suffering. When you practice compassion, you seek to understand, to feel and alleviate suffering as you understand and feel it as your own. By practicing compassion, it enables us to step out of reaction and into responding. It also allows us to stop thinking about ourselves so much and pushes us to help others and reach out to people in our community. Once you understand the fact that we’re all connected, it changes your life!

  1. Always choose love

I know it sounds so simple, doesn’t it? It’s one of the hardest lessons to master. If we all chose love with every action, thought, emotion and belief, the world would literally transform into that utopia we know is possible overnight. Fear, our old friend, keeps us blocked and disconnected, separate and shut up, shrunken and in pain. Love opens, connects, transforms, expands, motivates, inspires and frees. Why is it so difficult to choose love 100% of the time? Because we’ve been conditioned since birth not to—which doesn’t mean we can’t change!

  1. Always ask yourself how do my actions impact the world?

Want to make the world a better place? The first thing you can do is start with your community. What can you positively affect for the better here and now in your local environment? Don’t worry, we’ve made a short list to get you started on the right track!

Buy local: supporting your local businesses keeps jobs, money, food and goods in the local community and boosts the local economy. Not only is this good for you and your neighbours (money in the community keeps the community healthy, i.e. healthy people = lower crime rates, improves quality of life, etc.), but it’s good for the environment (if we can end globalism, the planet would be in much better shape).

Get healthy: eat healthy food, exercise, meditate, love and pray—if you’re healthy, you feel good and you’ll make better decisions that support a healthy lifestyle. You’ll also inspire others with your radiant smile and amazing vibes!!!

Spend less: it’s been proven, buying stuff doesn’t bring happiness! If you need something, then buy it local, make sure it’s re-used, re-cycled or made with eco-friendly materials. Always calculate the true cost of your purchase, i.e. did little children in third world countries make this pair of shoes…

Kindness: It’s infectious—smile at everyone you cross on the street, hold the door open for strangers, talk to the people working in stores, be grateful to be alive and you’ll spread the joy from one person to the next. By simply being kind, you positively change the day for hundreds of people (one happy person then spreads that happiness on to the next 10-50 people they interact with).

Sustainable living: we all know our impact on the environment is reaching disastrous levels of destruction that cannot be reversed. Use less electricity (opt for solar), walk or bike instead of driving, plant a veggie garden, compost, recycle, up-cycle, do everything in your power to decrease waste and your carbon footprint.

Volunteer: it feels good helping, whether it’s people, animals or the environment. Even if it’s only a few hours a month, find an organisation that you want to join and pitch in! Donate spare cash to a local charity and make sure you share what you earn—we’re all in this together!

Nature: Spend as much time in nature as you possibly can. There is no greater healer. Love nature fiercely and protect her.

If your mind carries a heavy burden of past, you will experience more of the same. The past perpetuates itself through lack of presence. The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future.

― Eckhart Tolle

That’s a wrap

I bet you’re saying, ‘conscious living, that sounds great, but…’ yes, there’s a bit of work that goes into it! We believe living consciously creates a better quality of life for all those who seek, practice and embody it. Our goal with the sunshine kollectiv is to make conscious living fun! And if we can get everyone in our community living consciously—or at least as many as we possible—we will transform our lives from a bunch of fear-based reactions and addictions to empowered, deliberate and intentional choices that benefit us, other people and the earth. Remember, start small but think BIG! And once you get the hang of it, there’s no going back!

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

 Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

 Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

 Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

 This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

The Waking, Theodore Roethke

Related Articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More