Core Practices of Awakening in Life
Core Practices of Awakening in Life
Letting go into courage and fearlessness.
The practice of trust is experiencing life as inherently trustworthy at its core, and cultivating a trust in ourselves and others to respond to life.
Specifically in the practice of trust we are diving into our hearts – our fear, courage, compassion, and love – and learning to trust life, ourselves, and others, and working with all the ways in which we reactively distrust.
Response and trust are where all of the core practices meet and are united. Response unites these practices in our actions and body. Trust unites them in our hearts.
What does it mean that life is inherently trustworthy?
It is a deep trust in the openness of life, that we are already something fundamentally greater than our self. Through our practice of awakening and trust, we experience and understand that our nature is vast and open, unborn and undying.
You likely have experienced this many times in your life already.
At this level of trust, there is nothing to do but rest and let go. This level of trust isn’t dependent on anything that happens to us as a unique person and as the self we imagine ourselves to be in this life.
When we live from this experience of inherent trustworthiness, a layer of fear drops from our experience. Not all fear. Not by a long shot. But a deep, pervasive fear fades away, and we experience more fluidity and freedom in our response and our being.
We develop this trust through the various practices of awakening. While it may not yet be unshakable, it is a growing trust in life.
What does it mean to trust in our ability to respond?
We deepen our trust in our own resilience and our capacity to grow even more resilient. We also experience joy and creativity in our response because we are letting go into trustworthiness, freeing up energy to be more present in our lives.
Trust does not mean everything will work out perfectly.
That’s not trust. That’s an expectation of what we want to happen. That might indeed be a legitimate want, or even a need. But trust in your capacity to respond to life means a trust that you can respond regardless of the situation. Simply put: you can be and act in your life from a place of openness, humility, and curiosity, even in the face of difficult times.
Trusting in ourselves in this way, when we act from a place of openness and acceptance of how things are, our actions are the best they could be right now, in this moment. We are being with and accepting things as they are, and responding from that place. We know we are seeing as clearly as we can in this moment, and that our response is rooted in this clarity.
Trust does not mean we will be free of confusion or not-knowing. Trust means we can even accept our own confusion and doubt, and yet still respond to the best of our ability, even if that means simply sitting in not-knowing. That is in and of itself, a response. And trust means knowing that it will lead somewhere deeper with more clarity, and that even our confusion and doubt has something to teach us.
Trust does not mean our actions will be perfect. We will not always be free of preoccupation, assumptions, and ideals. Sometimes we will find profound moments of utter perfect clarity in our response. But more than anything, we will find ourselves deepening again and again, our capacity to be with things as they are and trust.
Our Response and Actions Matter
Keep in mind that response is an important part of awakening.
With the practice of trust, sometimes it can appear to encourage an approach of “just letting everything work out”. This is not trust or response. This is usually a form of avoidance and disengagement in our life.
How we respond and that we do respond to our life is incredibly important and how awakening takes form. Trust is simply a matter of relaxing more deeply in our being and actions so that our response can be more free, immediate, and meaningful.
An Important Warning on Trust
It’s important to emphasize that this practice of trust has to do with a quality that is inherent and fundamental to life and ourselves. This is not the same as the type of relative trust that is built in say a romantic relationship or trust fostered in systems of society, like a judicial system. Trust can easily be broken between individuals or between groups of people due to perpetrated harm. In situations of abuse or oppression, for example, distrust is in fact both an appropriate and a healthy response.
And yet, even when distrust is appropriate and healthy, we can still act from a place of unconditional trust. The practice of trust is trusting ourselves and life to hold us in those types of difficult situations, to encourage through our capacity to be resilient and resourceful, and to believe in goodness that permeates life and all of us fundamentally.
How to – The Practice of Trust
In many ways the practice of trust is simply a result of all of the other core practices: settle, listen, inquire, and respond. You will naturally, without knowing how it happened, feel more deeply trusting.
However, there are many wonderful practices and methods we can use to open and deepen into trust. Similar to response, using multiple methods, and especially using a method that is most relevant to where you are in your path and life, is the most effective approach.
With all of that being said, what follows is one practice to help you cultivate trust. You might find that you need an entirely different practice right now in your life to help you cultivate deeper trust. If so, that’s ok. There are many, many more practices you can use.
Trust – Letting Go of Doing and Controlling
1. Begin with the practice of settling and listening – let go, clear, open, see.
The practice of trust can involve working with a lot of emotional energy and your personal life. Given that, it’s helpful to first drop into yourself through the practice of settling – clearing, resting, and letting go. If you don’t, it can be difficult to work with your experience. After settling, the practice of listening helps us to open to all of our experience without judgement or assumptions, and as result we’re able to see things directly and more clearly.
2. Bring to mind and heart a challenging situation. Keep it light.
If this sort of practice is new to you, pick a situation that isn’t too charged. You want a situation in your life that is just challenging enough to provide you something meaningful to work with. It could be a work decision, something going on in your relationship, how you feel about a political situation. Just avoid situations that you feel intensely reactive to.
3. Notice any reactions and strategies that arise. Notice and feel the tension.
When you bring this situation up in your mind and heart, take a step back in yourself. What reactions do you notice? Do you feel worried, confused, frustrated, excited, hopeful? What strategies and plans are coming up for you?
In this practice, you are explicitly not looking to solve or do anything about the situation. Just take a step back and notice these reactions and strategies. Feel how your energy in thoughts and emotions are coalescing and being focused in these reactions, thoughts, and plans. Notice your ability to experience what you’re experiencing.
4. Let go and rest.
After bringing the situation to mind, noticing some of your reactions, strategies, and thoughts, let go of it all and simply watch your breath. The shift here is similar if your hand was gripping a rock and you simply relaxed your hand and it opens naturally. You don’t really have to do anything except release and rest.
5. Return to the situation.
As before, bring the situation to heart and mind, and once again, notice any reactions or strategies arising. At this point you might notice that things are feeling and looking different. You might notice you are less reactive or less planning. You might notice more presence or openness. Again, the goal is not to solve your problems or come to a conclusion. You’re looking at the deeper quality of experience that is arising in all of this.
6. Cycle between periods of noticing and periods of letting go and resting.
You can repeat this process of noticing and letting go, doing each for a few minutes at a time.
The result of this practice is that you are infusing and counterbalancing your doing, reacting, and planning with the experience of rest and being with things as they are. That experience and shift naturally encourages trust.