There’s an old saying: “If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always gotten.” This old proverb helps us understand why one might want to sit down right in the middle of one’s life and train the heart to be intimate or real with the conditions of the moment. “This is being known, this is how it is now, can this be OK?” The alternative is to follow the well-worn path of habit and distraction. Mindful awareness ultimately illuminates the nature of the mind. It reveals that the causes for stress and the causes for release lie within. Our practice expresses a confidence that we don’t have to repeat the past. Life is not hopeless. There is a path of waking up, developing insight into the nature of the mind, and learning to manifest real freedom with the conditions here and now. In other words, a wiser, more compassionate and easeful life is possible!
Our practice of opening and seeing clearly challenges the deepest habits of mind. It is common to doubt. “Is it OK to put down the world when worries tug at my heart?” “Is it OK to temporarily turn away from the very real suffering in our world so in need of compassionate engagement?” There is no resonate freedom without learning to let go of attachment, even of our most wholesome desires. Everything has always been uncertain and fluid, arising and passing away. Aligning with this truth undermines habits of grasping, allowing the ancient grip on the heart to begin to release. Freedom is found in the space where grasping ceases. It is only when we put things down that we can see more clearly the way things are. This insight into the letting go of attachment is at the very heart of learning how to skillfully and compassionately engage life.