About · Posts · Categories · Projects · Mailing List

In his essay "How to Get Startup Ideas" Paul Graham writes:

The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not "think up" but "notice." Since what you need to do here is loosen up your own mind, it may be best not to make too much of a direct frontal attack on the problem—i.e. to sit down and try to think of ideas. The best plan may be just to keep a background process running, looking for things that seem to be missing.

Awareness, the ability to notice is a fundamental life skill that can release you to pursue greater things. For Paul Graham it's a strategy to unlock startup ideas. For those that practice mindfulness it's the foundation of the practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh in his seminal book on meditation "The Miracle of Mindfulness" introduces the reader to meditation through awareness. Having a process running where you are constantly aware of what you are doing presently. Even when putting a book back on the shelf:

While placing a book on the shelf, look at the book, be aware of what book it is, know that you are in the process of placing it on the shelf, intending to put it in that specific place.

What is awareness? How do you channel it? Tara Brach in "Radical Acceptance" writes:

When thoughts arise, where do they come from, where do they go to? As you explore looking into the space between thoughts, through the holes in the net, you are looking into awareness itself. You might sit quietly and simply listen for a few moments. Notice how sounds arise and dissolve back into formless awareness. Can you notice the beginnings of sounds, the ends of sounds? The spaces between? It is all happening in awareness, known by awareness.

As you begin practicing awareness you'll notice a transformation in your outlook to the world. Signs you may have missed previously become clearer. Feelings you've suppressed may become nurtured. Your relationships with others, with food, with experiences may become more significant.

Starting small and finding awareness in moments everyday can lead to more awareness throughout your experiences. It's a habit that can easily be dismissed or neglected. And yet finding ways to remind yourself, to continue to notice, can establish a habit that can have a profound impact on how you live life.