How to Harness Awareness

5 minutes read

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On this episode of the podcast I talk with my dear friend and mentor, Dandapani. He is a Hindu priest and a former monk who has taught me more than I ever imagined about energy, focus, and awareness. 

Specifically, Dandapani’s approach to living a happier, worry-free life is one that we all can aspire to.

Listen here:

In this episode:

Living as a monk for 10 years (1:00-3:20)

  • Dandapani lived at a traditional Hindu monastery where he took vows of celibacy, renunciation, and lived a strict, disciplined life.
  • 3 meals a day, living in a tiny hut with no electricity and no plumbing, and intensely training 24 hours a day – even in his sleep.
  • Since coming back into the secular world, he is singularly focused on one goal: building his OWN monastery.

“Where your awareness goes, your energy flows.” (3:20-6:40)

  • There are two things we must understand: there is the mind, and there is awareness. We are not the mind, but rather we are awareness traveling within the mind.
  • Think of it as a traveler: the same way we are in Charlotte now, we can go to New York tomorrow, and no matter where we go, we will have different experiences.
  • If you look at yourself not as your mind but as your awareness, you can travel to different areas of your mind. Your awareness can go to a happy area of the mind, a sad area, an enthusiastic area, and so on.
  • Wherever your awareness goes, energy is flowing to that area. Like water, if you want something to grow, put energy into it.
  • In order to develop something in your mind, shift your awareness there, so that’s where your energy is flowing. Once your energy flows there, that thing will start to manifest in your life.
  • Learn to control where your awareness goes in your mind. Once you control where your energy is flowing, you can control what is manifesting in your life (whether that’s positivity or negativity).

How to never worry again (6:40-9:15)

  • Dandapani shares the story of how his guru created an affirmation, which we all can learn from: “I’m alright right now.”
  • If we stay in the present moment, there is no need to worry. It is only when we go into the future, create situations that haven’t happened, and come back to the present when we worry. But understanding and controlling your awareness can help eliminate worry from your life.
  • You can also use your awareness in the opposite way: project the future to be happy, and choose where you want to go in your mind.

How to practice mindfulness (9:20-12:00)

  • Find one recurring event in your day, and use it to get repetitions.
  • For example, observe where your awareness is going every day as you have dinner with your partner. Are you keeping your awareness on that person, or is it drifting away? If it drifts away, bring your awareness back.
  • This is about training your mind. It’s OK if it takes several minutes to realize you are drifting as you’re starting out, but over time you can catch yourself earlier and eventually become completely present.
  • We become good at whatever we practice, and practice doesn’t have the ability to discern what is good for us, and what is bad for us. (Are you practicing awareness, or distraction all day?)

Energy Vampires and Negative Energy (12:10-16:40)

  • We only have a finite amount of energy each day, but many of us never evaluate who and what we’re investing that energy into.
  • Before you put your energy into something new, take stock of where you’re currently losing energy. It may be through people, things, or unresolved emotional experiences in the subconscious mind. (Conversations/arguments/scenarios you replay or imagine in your mind are extremely draining, for example.)
  • Dandapani refers to people who consume energy as “Energy Vampires.” There are two types: transient and inherent.
  • Transient energy vampires are those who are just going through a tough time and may be draining your energy as a result. Inherent vampires are those who have been draining your energy for a long period of time, and you may need to consider investing less energy into those relationships.
  • In order to be the best version of yourself, you must protect yourself from negative energy.

Parenting (16:40-18:45)

  • To Dandapani, one of the greatest characteristics of a mature soul (and something he wants to model for his daughter) is “responsiveness.”
  • Responsiveness means if you see something that needs to be done, you just do it. You don’t need anyone else to tell you to do it.
  • Modeling this behavior for children imprints a responsive quality in them, which is a positive outcome for everyone.

3 Things I Learned:

1) You will perfect what you practice. Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.

2) Time is our most important resource. The key to living with and on purpose is mastering how we allocate our time.

3) We should all have the same goal: which is at the end of our lives we can say, “What an amazing life. I would not trade it for anything in the world.”

About 3 Things

Ric Elias learned 3 things from surviving the Miracle on the Hudson. Now he’s sharing conversations with remarkable people, and 3 things we all can take away from each.


Hear more from Ric by following him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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About the Author:

Ric Elias | Co-Founder & CEO

Ric Elias is CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures. In 2009, he survived the "Miracle on the Hudson,” which led to his viral TED Talk, "3 Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed." In 2011, Ric was named Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2016 he was inducted into the Carolinas Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. Ric has founded several social impact initiatives including RoadtoHire, Golden Door Scholars, LifeSports, and Forward787. A native of Puerto Rico, Ric attended Boston College and Harvard Business School.

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