An integral mindfulness practice to cultivate loving awareness and a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection
The concept behind the Wheel of Awareness is to explore different aspects of consciousness and integrate them into a holistic understanding of one’s Being. The practice encourages you to remain present and open to whatever experiences come up without getting attached to or overwhelmed by them. It combines key aspects of mindfulness practice such as focused attention, open monitoring, loving kindness and awareness of awareness.
This technique was developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine as a way to promote a greater sense of self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. Over the years, its positive effects have been demonstrated through empirical studies in therapeutic and spiritual settings alike. It has helped thousands of individuals develop emotional resilience, mental clarity and overall well-being.
Think of a wheel with three parts. The hub represents awareness itself — “that which knows” — while the rim contains anything we can become aware of – “that which is known”. There is also a spoke, that connects the hub with the rim, representing our ability to direct our attention.
In the practice, we send the spoke of attention from the hub to the rim to become aware of various aspects of our experience. In this way, the wheel of awareness becomes a visual metaphor for the integration of consciousness as we differentiate rim-elements and hub-awareness from each other and link them with our focus of attention.
1. Settling the mind: Begin by finding a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind.
2. Visualise the wheel: Imagine a wheel with the hub of awareness in the center. Picture how you can direct the spoke of attention from the hub to various points of the rim in order to become aware of different aspects of your experience.
3. Explore the rim: move your attention around the rim, becoming aware of the different expressions of awareness. For each segment of the rim, gently pay attention to whatever arises without judgment.
- Begin with the five senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight.
- Continue by bringing awareness to your interior, somatic sense of the body. This is your interoception (“sixth sense”).
- Next, bring your attention to mental activities. This includes thoughts, feelings, memories, dreams, desires and more. We can call this the “seventh sense”.
- Finally open awareness to become aware of your connection to other people and life itself. From this openness, you can practice loving kindness by sending kind intentions to yourself and all living beings (“metta”).
4. Integrate Awareness: After exploring the rim, move your attention back to the hub of the wheel. From this centered place, try to integrate all the different aspects of your awareness into a unified, coherent experience. Recognize the interconnectedness of your thoughts, emotions, and sensations. The hub represents the plain of possibility, that which is beyond time and space. This practice is sometimes known as “awareness of awareness”.