Wake Up to Life
Shift your attention to joy.
Published: June 26, 2012
An easy cure for habitual disconnection.
It is most important to acknowledge the existence of our pain identity and to have the proper relation to it. Often, pain goes unrecognized. For instance, you could be sitting on a bench in a beautiful park waiting to meet a friend for lunch. Perhaps you are checking your e-mail on your phone without hearing the birds or seeing the play of light on the trees. Physically you are breathing, but you may have no connection with your body. You could be caught up in your thoughts about some work issues, strategizing various solutions. Nothing is truly fresh and alive when you are caught up in your habitual patterns of body, speech, and mind. And it is not that easy to recognize these habitual patterns unless your discomfort becomes more acute. There are many in-between moments in our lives when we are waiting for the next “event.” These are excellent opportunities to turn to the refuge. We can be anywhere—in a business meeting or at a lovely celebration—and recognize that we are not fully present. The bottom line is that we are often distracted and disconnected from our own creative energies and from what the natural environment and others have to offer. Each of us can find many opportunities throughout the day to become aware of habitual disconnection and to shift our attention to the refuge.
Until you recognize your pain identity, whether you experience it as boredom, disconnection, or some other manifestation of discomfort, no path of healing is available. Recognizing pain is the first step on the journey to awakening the sacred body, authentic speech, and luminous mind.
Directly in the midst of a bored, confused, or agitated experience, simply draw your attention to your body, and experience the stillness that becomes available. As you find stillness again and again, you will begin to realize that it is always available. It is a matter of turning your attention to the right place. Finding stillness sounds so simple that perhaps you might think it is not very convincing as a remedy for your problems. And because it is so simple it can take years or a lifetime for someone to make that shift of drawing attention inward to discover what becomes available when they do so. Many do not make that shift and will always perceive the world as dangerous and threatening. But if you are able to make that shift of attention again and again, it can cause a remarkable transformation of your experience of yourself and the world. It is important to know that at any given moment of challenge or pain, there is another way to experience that very moment. Connect with the fundamental stillness of being. It is already there, but unrecognized.
When there are competing internal voices, hear the silence. It is right there, within those voices. We do not listen to inner silence or have a good relationship to it. We are drawn again and again to the stimulation and distraction of inner dialogue, negotiating and rehearsing. And we are pleased when we come up with a good strategy. At other times we try not to think about something that is bothering us, and with effort push it out of our minds, distracting ourselves with other things. Whether we arrive at what we consider a good strategy or actively distract ourselves from thinking about something, it is all pain speech from the point of view of the inner refuge. As we listen to the silence that is truly available in any given moment, whether we are in the middle of a busy airport or sitting at a holiday dinner table, our inner voices dissolve. These are the moments when something fresh and alive becomes available.
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is an acclaimed author and highly respected teacher to students around the world. He is renowned for his depth of wisdom; his clear, engaging teaching style; and his ability to make ancient Tibetan teachings highly accessible and relevant to the lives of Westerners.