A Lesson in Awareness

“Do you hold your breath?”  It was a seemingly simple question that my counsellor asked me during our first session together.  She asked it very casually in response to my description of the intense dizzy spells that I was prone to experiencing.  I remember feeling quite defensive and vehemently answering, “No!” without giving it much thought at all.  At the time, I thought it was such a stupid question – of course I would know if I held my breath all the time!  I left the session feeling annoyed, completely hesitant about the counselling process, and feeling indignant over being asked such a silly question.

Newsflash: I was completely wrong and she was totally right.  In the week that followed my first counselling session, I realized that I held my breath ALL THE TIME.  That simple question posed by my counsellor had planted a seed of awareness and I could not help but notice it happening.  It seemed as though my mind and body had become so disconnected from one another that it was like only one could function at a time.  Anytime my mind was busy (which was evidently a lot), my body would stop functioning in an optimal fashion.  Needless to say, I returned to counselling the following week in a sufficiently embarrassed manner.

Now that I’m a counsellor, I find myself planting seeds of awareness everyday.  My clients often hear me say that awareness is the first step…and I don’t mind repeating it in order to drive the point home.  But it totally makes sense, right?  We need to be aware of something in order to notice it.  In other words, we need to be aware of a problem before we can make changes.  My clients are all walking into my office with a desire for change.  Sometimes they are aware of exactly what needs to change.  Other times, like in my experience, they know something needs to be different, but they are unaware of what it is or how to make the changes.  Part of my job as a counsellor is to help my clients develop these moments of awareness…to plant those seeds of awareness and change.

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