Isn’t Living Consciously Mentally Draining?

When having discussions with people about living consciously this is a very common question. I’ve heard it from many people on several different occasions.

So is living consciously mentally draining? The simple answer is no. However, if it’s a practise which you’ve just adopted then it could possibly feel that way.

If you’ve been living on autopilot most of your life then making the transition will be tiring.

It’s exactly the same principle as exercising. If you’ve never exercised and you start a new training program, initially, you will feel very tired.

Your body is being made to do things it hasn’t done before.

However, once you get under way and it becomes a habit, you start to realise that you’re doing things you’re designed to do. Our bodies were designed to run, jump and be full of vitality.

The same applies to our minds. Over time we’ve become lazy. But that is not how we are designed and it certainly isn’t what we were meant to do or how we were meant to live.

So when you take the first steps to living consciously you will initially feel a little bit of mental strain. You’ll feel like you’re being stretched.

The act of paying attention to your thinking and then making a conscious decisions to then shift your focus to something more productive and valuable will take it’s toll initially.

Once you start though, that’s when things begin to change. It then goes from being an exercise that requires effort to a practise that is habitual.

Don’t feel disheartened if you stray back into your old ways. Keep persisting and eventually you will just get better at it.

When I first tried to learn to solve a Rubik’s cube, I was disappointed that I couldn’t do it, but then I keep going and now, it’s easy, I can’t quite do it with my eyes closed like some people πŸ˜† but generally speaking, now it’s just second nature.

Control

There is a very distinct difference between living consciously and control. Living consciously is not control. It is much more closer to paying attention and being mindful.

It is making decisions based on listening to your true inner feeling/voice/calling. It’s about paying less attention to the things that we do not need. It’s about paying less attention to the billions of voices of input that we get everyday.

It’s about listening to the one that truly counts. Listening to your calling; listening to your voice.

It’s about being deliberate rather than being forever in a state of reaction.

How To Get Started

Like anything else, once you get started, you get into a rhythm. It becomes easier. You start to see the benefits. There are a few simple ways to get started and more advanced methods as you progress but here are some simple pointers.

1. Ask lots of questions. Here’s a great simple one, when was the last time you questioned why you eat breakfast? So, why do you? What’s the purpose of it? Simple things like these will shift your attention and get your out of autopilot.

2. Pause at various moments during the day and observe what you were thinking about? Was it futile or worthwhile things?

3. How often do you drive without thinking about all your moves? Probably not since you were a learner right? Try going back to those days and think about your movements, actions, do them with precision and fluency.

These are just a few ways you could get started. Feel free to think of many more of your own methods, consciously create more methods and feel free to share them with me in the comments below.

Is living consciously a new concept to you? Did you find this post useful?

24 Responses

  1. Lisa H. says:

    Hmmm, I think that it takes more energy to remain unconscious. Plus, when we are unconscious, going through life on autopilot, we create all sorts of problems for ourselves. Usually when we are unconscious we are living in the past or the future and with that comes anxiety, worry, guilt and stress–all draining emotions.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Lisa,

      Interesting that you should say that it takes more energy to remain unconscious. I didn’t actually think about that. I was just seeing it from the one side. Thank you for that input… πŸ™‚ x

  2. Jonas says:

    Hi Amith,

    I am currently listening to the fabulous audiobook “The Science of Enlightenment” and it makes some points relevant to your post. The author Shinzen Young makes the point that enhancing mindfulness will intensify each moment, that it will make any pain more tolerable and any joy more full.

    I think, getting to a point where you have decent mindfulness probably requires a lot of discipline, and changing our habits is always somewhat draining. Just like after a tiring jog you somehow feel refreshed.

    So, my answer to your rethorical question would be: yes and no πŸ˜‰

    Jonas

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Jonas,

      Thanks for enlightening me about that book, sounds like a great one to read. I totally agree, the early stages of change are always a difficult adjustment but when you get around to it you get used to it and even start to enjoy it and find it energising. πŸ™‚

  3. Chris says:

    Agree with you. Not draining at all. What’s draining is when you don’t know how focus.

  4. J.D. Meier says:

    I think that’s a great reminder of how we move up the automation stack:
    1. unconscious incompetence
    2. conscious incompetence
    3. conscious competence
    4. unconscious competence

    I think the trick is bringing the right things into focus, testing our wisdom and judgment, as we move our thinking, feeling, and doing up the stack.

  5. Nice answer to the question, Amit. Living consciously, as you’ve mentioned, simply means we are more mindful of the thoughts, ideas, judgements and motivations in our mind. For someone who is new to this, it may seem daunting because so many thoughts pass through our mind each day. But when you learned to do it, you actually consciously stop the mind from producing so much clutter when you’re aware of the amount of unhelpful thoughts that are being generated. So it actually saves your mental resources. Rather than draining, living consciously actually helps you from driving yourself to the point of mental exhaustion.

  6. R says:

    Hey Amit, i am also trying to live as consciously as much as possible and to tell you the truth i felt like that guy in the picture lying down on the sofa from mental exhaustion lol! it is hard work, but I have come this far and I have learnt so much from it all, I just feel that I am learning more and more as I progress and there is no end to learning-some of the things i have learnt and have applied to everyday life is gratitude and that is appreciating everything i have right now in life now and tolerance. These things are challenging i have found personally-because the its amazing how many desires we have and the mind wanting more and more, but its really about saying i have everything i need now and being content with everything in the present…

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