It will help you to know that you've already attained it, on several occasions. Anytime you are fully in the moment, you are living with awareness. Very stimulating experiences will sometimes capture our complete attention, whether they are positive or negative. If you have ever witnessed the birth of a baby, for instance, you probably were not lost in thought at the moment that that new life entered the world. It is enthralling. Take your memory of any significant event in your life, and you will be able to see it in your mind's eye and recall it's vivid nature. But even insignificant events can be experienced in this way. It's only a matter of practicing awareness, and you will be able to call yourself back to the now at will.
My husband is fond of saying, "There are two inscriptions on the temple of Delphi: 'Know Thyself' and 'Nothing in Excess'." (What's ironic is that he quotes it so often that he is doing it in excess!) And there's a good reason he likes those inscriptions: a wellspring of wisdom is found in those two simple lines. Before you become familiar with what it means to be aware, know yourself. No one is capable of living in the now and never getting lost in thought. So, be easy on yourself. Your mind is not the enemy. It's part of your life just as much as any other member of your body or moment in your journey. Yet, it can have a tendency to want to take over. And that's where "Nothing in Excess" comes in. If there is anything our mind wants to do in excess, it's think. Not that I have anything against thinking. It is most definitely what our minds should be doing. But life is not only about thinking.
There are many options here. Some people find they come into focus by exercising. Some by thinking through a challenging problem. Some by prayer, or meditation. Some by adrenaline rush. They may not realize that their experience has a name--awareness--but they are addicted to the activity that brings it to them. When they do it, they feel more alive.
Below is a Christian meditation I have put together to help you become more aware. Note that meditation has always been a spiritual discipline of the Christian church. Meditating on scripture or being still and resting in God are both valid forms of Christian prayer. If you practice the following, it will help you become familiar with what it feels like to have a calm, quiet mind. Then, whenever you think of it, come back to that calmness and allow yourself to be immersed in your present experience of life.
The Bliss Meditation
(Listen to this as a podcast)
Find a calm spot to sit, where you will not be disturbed.
Sit up comfortably and relax you hands into your lap.
Close your eyes. Listen.
Focus on your breath. Inhale through the nose deeply. Fill up your belly completely before filling up your rib cage. Then exhale from both evenly. Let each breath grow long and steady. This will signal to your body that it is time to relax.
Thoughts may try to invade. Do not resist them, but rather think of them as clouds floating by. They belong there, but they don't need your attention. If one happens to grab hold of you for a moment, do not fret. Instead, calmly return to the breath and let the thought pass you by.
Think about your body. Does any part of it have something to say to you? Is there discomfort? Hunger? Thirst? Are you sleepy? Let your body express itself to you, and observe it. If there is discomfort, imagine sending the breath to that part of the body as you inhale and exhale.
What emotions did you bring to this space? Think on them now. Observe whether or not you are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, or maybe feeling something you cannot name. Pretend your emotions are a captivating storyteller and you are the enraptured audience. Let them fully express themselves to you. Not in concrete thoughts nor by exploring their origins. Just let them be felt.
Return to the breath. Inhale and exhale a few times, then open your eyes. Notice the space around you. Notice the clarity and crispness of the tangible items in the room. Notice how you could predict how each would feel if you touched it, or how each would smell. You could even predict how they would taste! Realize that you are surrounded by a treasure trove of sensate experiences waiting to happen, and some that are happening to you now.
Now that you are still, inside and out, invite God into this space. You can use a familiar scripture or say a prayer, however you want to do it. I suggest repeating this prayer, which is a variation on Ps 104:30: "Lord send forth your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." Repeat it as often as you feel like, and then sit with God awhile.
Give up to him your thoughts, feelings, emotions or whatever comes your way. Be open to the movement of his Spirit. "Be still and know that I am God." Ps 46:10. When you feel you have finished, end with Amen.
Equipped with a tool that helps you practice awareness, you can now go out into the world and experience it fully. But there is an entire world within you calling out, begging you to notice it. Are you aware of the different voices of the self vying for your attention? How do you take a body whose voices have been stuffed, ignored and stifled for so long, and allow it to live the life abundant? How do you fall in love with it? Let's go inward, let's dig deep.
It's a whole new world.