Practice: Critical Awareness

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Practice: Critical Awareness

We believe that democracy as a way of life can be strengthened and deepened through spiritual practices—both those traditionally considered to be "inner work" and those that require active engagement with our neighbors and communities. In partnership with our friends at Spirituality & Practice, we are sharing monthly practices to help us all “practice democracy” from the inside out.

This spiritual practice is taken from Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection.

Practicing critical awareness is about reality-checking the messages and expectations that drive the "never good enough" gremlins. From the time we wake up to the time our head hits the pillow at night, we are bombarded with messages and expectations about every aspect of our lives. From magazine ads and TV commercials to movies and music, we're told exactly what we should look like, how much we should weigh, how often we should have sex, how we should parent, how we should decorate our houses, and which car we should drive. It's absolutely overwhelming, and, in my opinion, no one is immune. Trying to avoid media messages is like holding your breath to avoid air pollution—it's not going to happen.

It's in our biology to trust what we see with our eyes. This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced, and Photoshopped world very dangerous. If we want to cultivate a resilient spirit and stop falling prey to comparing our ordinary lives with manufactured images, we need to know how to reality-check what we see. We need to be able to ask and answer these questions:

1. Is what I'm seeing real? Do these images convey real life or fantasy?
2. Do these images reflect health, wholehearted living, or do they turn my life, my body, my family, and my relationships into objects and commodities?
3. Who benefits by my seeing these images and feeling bad about myself? Hint: This is ALWAYS about money and/or control.

Visit Spirituality & Practice's PracticingDemocracy.net for more resources.

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