The residents of the Institute have chosen Learning to Trust as a practice for the month of February. We specifically discussed the importance of trusting wisely in reliable sources and acknowledged that blind faith is irresponsible. There is great benefit to be gained in trusting in a universal principle, the messages of our own bodies, and the voice of our deep inner Self.
Our culture is so focused on appearances that we often disregard the sensations in our bodies in an effort to create and maintain a self-image that we deem successful, beautiful or in some way worthy of love. We push through moments of fatigue bolstered by caffeine or a determination to prove ourselves. We may override signs of sickness or the physical manifestation of our emotions because we feel we don’t have time for them, or worry that they make us look weak.
Our approach to Hatha Yoga can be a great antidote to this tendency. We can practice moving with non-judgmental awareness and in loving response to the capacity of the body in this moment. A mind that is focused, quiet and open can truly listen to the body as it is without imposing on it how it should be. It is this trust in the body’s natural wisdom that liberates us from cultural conditioning and allows the mind to be guided by the deepest part of our being, the Spiritual Consciousness.
Practicing trust in the body, which is always in the present and doesn’t hide its sensations, can be a good step toward awareness of the mind and its complex mixture of past impressions, emotions and untainted perceptions. Trusting ourselves and our innate wisdom requires that we first discern between the “me-centered” thoughts that define us as separate and focus only on our individual happiness, and the “we-centered” ones grounded in the truth of our oneness.
We can start by sincerely reflecting on whether our thinking considers the well-being of everyone, including ourselves. But for many of us, a reliable connection to our deep inner Self requires a regular, ongoing meditative practice. Such a practice gives us perspective on the mind and the habitual thoughts that repeat like a broken record. With time, we can begin to experience a personal center of peace beneath all the business.
Once we’ve learned to trust this unchanging deeper Self—this voice that knows our connection to all life-–we may find it easier to trust others, since we know that the same inner source of wisdom resides in them. But for many of us, learning to trust someone may also require a conscious choice to release the fears that prevent us from being fully present, listening deeply, and opening our hearts to another point of view.
Another form of this practice is trusting in the events that enter our lives. We all experience numerous situations that are beyond our control and difficult to accept. Our limited minds are often incapable of seeing any benefit from the challenges that sometimes assail us. If we examine these experiences over time, we may see how obstacles compel us to build new strengths, the way a dam impedes a river but also induces it to express its power. It can be a great relief to believe that our lives are unfolding according to a higher or divine plan that is often beyond our ability to understand.
If we have developed a faith that all that comes to us is ultimately for good, we can open our hearts by praying for the guidance and support to accept even that which makes us suffer. Humbling ourselves this way helps us escape the false sense of control that our ego likes to sustain and opens us to learning in new ways. Ultimately, all the difficulties we face teach us to let go of the things that we believe we need to be happy and guide us to find the unchanging source of peace within. If we can see this principle at play in our lives, challenges become easier to accept. We begin to trust, as Rumi put it, that “each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”