Getting older isn’t anything like I thought it would be.

Everyone says it’s inevitable, maybe so, but on the inside, I don’t feel any different than I did when I was twenty-five.

My physical body of course is a different matter. I used to be a runner, now I go for walks. But fortunately, the feeling that I call myself, the part of me that looks from the inside-out, hasn’t aged! I’ve decided it deserves more attention!

I love photography. Once in a while, I make the extra effort to break out the “big rig”, a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. After mounting a fast L lens to the camera’s body, this beast tips the scales at around ten pounds. That’s the downside. The upside is what I see through the lens is completely adjustable. Rather than simply snapping a picture, I’m able to construct an image.

A few years back, I was walking along a canal in Venice Italy. It was extremely narrow and lined with empty gondola, a great potential photo. I “stopped” the lens down and composed a darkened image that really captured the mood of “back water” Venice. The framed picture hangs on our wall.

I am learning through mindfulness practice that awareness, functions a lot like my camera.

Circumstance being what it is, is not always good! Mindfulness, especially on those days, helps me “frame my shots”. It doesn’t have to be sunny to make a great picture, but it requires practice.

Recently, I’ve used the book, “Relax and Be Aware” by Sayadaw U Tejaniya to “adjust my focus”. The book consists of daily exercises designed to improve the quality of awareness. Here are some examples (my paraphrasing):

Day one: Are you tense or relaxed? Check often!

Day five: Stay aware throughout the day by observing what the mind does in different situations.

Day fifteen: If anger or frustration arise, study it down to the smallest detail.

Day sixteen: Don’t try to have insights, simply be aware. Awareness leads to wisdom, enabling the mind to see clearly.

There are thirty-one practices in all. When I work them, I notice a significant improvement in emotional well-being. I like this approach because practice occurs throughout the day vs having to set aside a special time. The exercises seem simple, but are harder than they appear!

My knees may be worn out, but my awareness is improving.

I’m finding I’m better off living inside-out.

Key Principle: Practicing awareness on a routine basis
Key Question: If you captured awareness snapshots throughout the day, what would they reveal?

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3 Replies to “Inside-Out”

  1. Thanks for the post Tim. I love the camera analogy. My body is breaking down more each year also, may have something to do with 160 rounds of golf each year in retirement. But I thought i would golf as much as i can until the body says no! I’m going to have to read that book on awareness. Thanks again.


  2. Another Sunday and another Tim Coats Post— I look forward to them…. I read every one of them and stop and take the time to think about them absolutely and think about them in context to my own life. This week I liked the analogy made to photography. Owning PHOTOZOZO in New Mexico made it interesting due to the fact that I often see a number of photographs of the same landscape or scene but some definitely capture the essence or value of that scene better than others. More Mindfulness leads to more awareness and better photos as well as a Life Lived Better !!! Keep up the great work— you are helping us all—and I am proud to have you as an “old” friend !!


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