Open Awareness

Pema Chodron, the Buddhist Nun, is one of my favorite teachers. Over the last 15 years, I’ve listened to or read several of her talks and books. Her words used to express an orientation of wholeness have a way of sticking with me. They grow in me. “This very moment is the perfect teacher…” is an example. All of that has much to do with an awareness that I try to bring to my work with groups. Awareness. Awakeness. Leaning in for the good of varied efforts and causes. Growing consciousness.

This recent book, Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, is the one I’ve been reading lately, as well as gifting to a few friends. From a chapter on The Practice of Open Awareness, Pema writes,

Practicing open awareness is a gradual process of continually going back to seeing what we’re seeing, smelling what we’re smelling, feeling what we’re feeling. Whatever happens, the method is to keep letting go of the extra stuff and return to just what’s here.

I love Pema’s invitation to return to what is now. Return to sensing only what is in the present moment.

Thinking this way reminds me of a workshop I held a couple of years ago. I hosted a group on the power of emptying, on the wonder of “nothingness.” It was great to gather with a handful of people ready to lean to the mystery, even the quirkiness of it all. For me, the powerful insight, that really stuck and grew, was that at the bottom of nothingingness (try to overlook the inherent thingness of words) is everythingness.

“…just return to what is here…. This very moment is the perfect teacher.” This very moment holds access to so many important aspects of the journey, individually and collectively.

My body comes alive in such words. My being comes alive in such practice.

I continue to learn that awareness isn’t a destination. It is a commitment. It is a surrender. It might feel like a momentary landing spot. I’m ok with that because our brains seems to need it. But that is then followed by more movement and practice. The next moment, that becomes not even known by the word “moment,” but rather, dissolves to no thing, but wholeness.

As Pema writes in the same chapter, “If you taste chocolate ice cream, you tend to have a sense of an ‘I’ who is tasting. The subject (I) and the object (ice cream) are two separate things. But this separation doesn’t exist in the direct experience of tasting ice cream. In that direct experience, there is no ‘me’ or ‘it.’ There is just taste.”

Here’s to the wholeness, the open awareness that guides, and that contributes. Here’s to the people that write a few words — thanks Pema Chodron — that guide us along the way to reach into the depths together.

2 Replies to “Open Awareness”

  1. I think also, Tenneson, there is awareness comes in holding the tensions of seeming opposites — like intention and surrender. A deepening into the space between, the space of And. Barry Johnson, one of the pioneers in thinking about polarities has just come out with a new book — And. Just received my copy. Looking forward to exploring…

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