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Ask the Body

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Ask the Body

Where personal transformation really begins.
Tenzin Wangyal  Rinpoche
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche More by this author
Dec 06, 2010 at 09:00 AM

How can we, as individuals, make positive changes in our lives, how we can transform, or expand our consciousness, going beyond the limitations of prejudice and fear, beyond the bounds of familiar and habitual patterns to discover new solutions to the challenges we face?

In many forms of psychological and spiritual work, the mind is the focus. And it is not very easy to change the mind. Perhaps you are aware of having had good intentions that you were not able to realize. In our individual lives there are many situations in which we feel limited by patterns and habits that we wish we could change, yet we don’t know exactly how to do so.

You may have tried the common method of exerting conceptual power over yourself, basically a method of forceful advice. You reason with yourself: “I shouldn’t do this. This is bad for me.” You may have listed all the reasons that something is legally bad for you, ethically bad for you, or spiritually bad for you, and still you are unable to change. This is simply because many of our habitual patterns exist in a place deeper than our good intentions are capable of reaching, and so our intentions lack the power to effect the change we desire.

Perhaps, for example, a friend has done something and you are very agitated as you think of her behavior. “What was my friend thinking? How could she do this?” You may feel like you want to contact her right away and resolve the issue. Immediately you launch into strategies to solve the problem she created. You have an imaginary conversation with her in your head, or you sit at your computer and write an e-mail. Your intention is to clear this up. Perhaps your doctor, your spouse, or your friends have all told you that you need to relax, to let go, to not get so worked up over things—or for that matter, to simply not work so hard. Maybe you plan to go to the gym later, but right now you want to write an e-mail and clear up this conflict. Then you will be able to relax. We often posit a “later” after we’ve finished certain tasks, when conditions will be better and we will be able to relax.

Our agitation, conflicts, and habits can be the doorway to another dimension of being, an experience of clear and open awareness, vitality, and positive qualities. Sometimes, when we are bothered by a problem, we think of the problem as being “out there.” We externalize the problem entirely, and we simply conclude that the other person needs to change. Or when we try to fix a problem, we strategize and analyze over and over. Yet, as we mull over our challenges, our strategies and actions are driven by the energy of agitation and discomfort. No action that is driven by our discomfort will solve anything. It will only contribute to the problem. It is only when actions come from openness that true resolution is possible.

By nature the mind is open and clear. This is who we are. Openness is the source of our being, and in openness we are connected to all of life. What obscures us from recognizing this source is similar to the way clouds obscure the sun. The sun is always shining, but from our vantage point—namely, our identification with our problems—we don’t recognize the radiance. We are simply more familiar with identifying and dwelling on problems, and we’re used to solving them with our conceptual mind. But it is through nonconceptual awareness, that we are able to directly experience the mind’s openness.

About Author
Tenzin Wangyal  Rinpoche
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 Continue reading