Growing your awareness is about growing your capacity to see things as they really are, not just through the filter of your beliefs and perceptions.
The way that we perceive ourselves and what goes on in our lives -- i.e. the stories we hold that have largely been fed to us by our parents, our "education," and society -- shape the way we react or respond to the internal and external experiences we have. These stories also influence the meaning we give to these experiences which trigger and reinforce thought and emotional patterns, for better or for worse.
This is important because most of the stress that we experience can be traced directly back to the beliefs that we have that give rise to the meaning we place upon things which determines what kind of physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual reaction or response we have to whatever internal or external experience we're presented with.
To give some practical examples:
This could be how you react/respond to missed lift in training or competition. It could be how you handle challenges in your relationships. It could be how you manage your finances or what you choose to spend your money on. It could be how you make your career choices and how you approach the work environment.
As you grow your awareness you may find that the same situations bring about completely different responses. What used to make you angry or feel anxiety are now no big deal and may even reinforce a new state of inner peace.
This is when you begin to move from reacting to responding.
Reaction is typically out of your programmed beliefs that you may be unconscious of -- something happens and then there's an immediate trigger (car cuts you off and you automatically take it personally and get angry).
Response happens when there's a gap between the stimulus and the way you consciously choose to respond -- something happens and you witness what arises in you and make a choice as to how you go about handling the situation (car cuts you off and you realize its no big deal and that other person's actions don't have to have an effect on you).
When you move from reaction to response you are now beginning to take more personal responsibility for your life, and therefore you gain more control over how the internal and external experiences affect your state of being. This allows you to maintain a state of equanimity even in the most challenging circumstances.
As an athlete, this means that you're not adding unnecessary stress to the system and therefore you'll have more energy, vitality, and resources to focus on training and recovery and performing at the highest level possible.
Not only this, but as you continue to develop the witness aspect of your self that sees everything but is involved in nothing, you may come to find that there's an underlying awareness that pervades everything and that is not just localized to your mind and body. The more you identify with this pervading awareness, the more your sense of self expands beyond just what you have been conditioned to label as your "self" encompassed in this bag of skin that goes about life. As this sense of self expands, so does your domain of what you have influence over. This means that you gain more freedom to create more of what you want in your life.
Real magic. LIFE Magick.
There are many ways to develop this capacity of awareness, from meditation to breathwork to just seeing what situations create pain in your life and using that as a catalyst for growth. Either way, the aim is to become less and less identified with the ego "I" and more identified with the witness witnessing it all.
If you want to learn some more about this, I recently made a video on Instagram you can watch here.
Happy responding :)
Nathan "Responsibility" Barna