A Revolutionary Approach to Change
There are a few things that sets the Enhances Awareness Program apart from other personal development programs. Foremost is the primary attention to awareness. In fact, awareness is the primary objective of EAP, consequently the name of the program. What this means is that if you wanted to lose weight, we would never ask you go on a diet. If you wanted to quit smoking, you would never be asked to quit smoking. Instead of using personal will to stop a behaviour, we guide you to exert that personal will into being more aware. It works on the notion that the more aware you become, the more mindful you are. The more mindful you are, the more inclined you will be to choose thoughts and behaviours that better serve you, consciously or not.
The rate of failures of sustainable change in people choosing to use personal will to stop addictive and avoidance behaviours clearly suggest that in the biggest majority of cases, it doesn’t work. How many people do you who have tried to diet, succeeded, only to put it all back on plus some? How many people do you know who have tried to stop smoking, with no lasting result? Maybe you are one of them.
I recently came across an extract from a book which referred to an experiment of weight loss that was referred to as Pragmatic Laziness. The whole idea was that Phil (the guy who devised the concept) would lose weight just by being aware. Firstly he had to be aware of his current weight. Then he had to decide what weight he wanted to be and how long he was prepared to take to get to that weight. He created a graph which showed what the incremental weight changes would be over that period. Each day he would weigh himself at exactly the same time (naked), and would plot the result on the graph. He didn’t follow any diet and he did no more exercise than his normal routine of daily activity.
Phil wrote, “I actually made an effort not to deviate from my diet or exercise routine during this experiment. That is, I continued to eat whatever I wanted and got absolutely no exercise. The goal was to see how just situational awareness of where I was each day would affect my weight. I suspect it affected thousands of minute decisions that I made over the time period, even though I couldn’t tell you which.” It was pure 100% awareness training, nothing but tracking. Phil lost 12.7kg in six months without making the slightest attempt to change his behaviour. This approach to change was called pragmatic laziness.
So EAP could be said to take a pragmatic lazy approach to change. Awareness from the EAP perspective has two core elements. Becoming aware of the facts and becoming aware of your story. This week we will focus on the five steps that make up the first part, the facts.
1. Observe the truth of how your life turns up physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This would include how you are currently suffering in these regards. Physically you might be dealing with an advanced life-style disease (which we know is at epidemic proportions globally). Mentally you are only managing to make it through each day because of the anti-depressants you take. Emotionally your life is devoid of joy and a lack of true connection. Spiritually your values are hollow and your life is without purpose or fulfilment. These are endemic of our society at large.
2. Become aware of how that serves you now as well as into the future. I’m sure you are aware of the adage that states, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got.”
3. State how you would like your life to be more serving to you, to others and to the planet.
4. Identify how you could bridge the gap between your current reality and your desired reality.
5. Everyday review the previous four steps.
That’s it! That daily review is like Phil weighing himself and plotting it on his graph every day. There is nothing else to do. However, having worked with a few hundred people over the years, getting a daily commitment to reviewing those four elements is harder than you think.
The most challenging aspect of this model is getting people not to rush out and change their behaviours. That only happens because of a lack of understanding of the power of just being aware! In the next blog I will discuss what interferes with out ability to stay aware. This is the second part and another aspect that truly sets EAP apart from other programs.
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