I Heard it Like This…
Reflections of an inspired talk by Buddhist teacher Joan Halifax.
TEN STEPS ON THE PATH OF SELF AWARENESS
There are ten steps we all can take to enlarge our self awareness. These steps are like strings on an instrument or notes on a piano. We can practice them separately but when played together, we can make beautiful music.
(if you prefer to listen & meditate – there is approx. 30 seconds of silence after the bell, before Alan speaks again; but you can fast-forward if you don’t wish to meditate)
The tenth step is ENGAGEMENT. What kind of engagement? An intentional form of cognitive and emotional engagement achieved through practice. Practice is what brings to life increased self awareness. Practice is what allows for refined neuro-cognitive linkages to form in our brain. Practice is what allows for knowing the difference between spontaneous action and intentional restraint. Wisdom cannot be gained through lofty thoughts alone, if at all. However, joined with practice, each of us can become life long learners, more skillful through encounter and engagement with the world.
The multiple paths of self awareness bring the attention inward. This is the paradoxical discovery that complements outward engagement. We become witnesses to the many selves constellated within ourselves. We become more at ease with unconscious processes because we are not the final masters of our thoughts and feelings. Instead we become co-creators with our inner life, tending to the living springs that nourish us and which flow toward the interconnected emotional waters we call compassion.
At some point along the journey, engagement with inner self and outer world become more fluid. How could it be otherwise if we embrace the many paths of self awareness – knowledge with affect, intention with non-attachment, moral sensitivity with the ability to distinguish self from other. How much more satisfying it is when we become disciplined non judgmental observers of our mind’s activities and respectful companions to our body’s wisdom. No longer living in a simple duality between this or that, we become weavers of a multi-colored tapestry that includes self and world, the world and the Self.