Awakening the Sacred Body

How can we, as individuals, make positive changes in our lives? How can we 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. 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.Sometimes, when we are bothered by a problem, we externalize the problem entirely, or 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. Action that is driven by our discomfort will only contribute to the problem. It is only when actions come from openness that true resolution is possible.

According to the wisdom tradition of Bön, by nature the mind is open and clear. This is who we are, fundamentally. 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. The purpose of Awakening the Sacred Body is to support you in becoming more familiar with the power of nonconceptual awareness, so that you can recognize the source within you and the positive qualities that flow from it.

Open awareness

AWAKENING THE SACRED BODY

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How do we go from a sense of being stuck in our problems to accessing the open state of mind that is the source of positive qualities? It is essential to shift your attention from the story you are telling yourself about what is happening to the inward experience you are having. The first place to draw your attention to is your body, to experience the discomfort and agitation directly. Your pain is the opportunity for transformation, and simply being directly with your pain will bring positive change.

How is this possible? By drawing your attention to your body, you can clearly feel the tensions and agitation that arise when you’re experiencing something challenging. Sometimes the muscles of your abdomen are contracted or your jaw is clenched. You may notice that your breath is shallow or even that you are holding it. Your thoughts may be racing. We identify with our pain, making what is a product of temporary causes and conditions into something that is much more solid than it actually is. While not who you fundamentally are, identifying with your story and your reaction to it becomes a habit. Bön texts refer to this pattern as the karmic conceptual pain body. And this body is not by nature permanent or solid or fixed. Yet this limited experience of ourselves becomes an identity, a place of familiarity where we get stuck and spend far too much of our lives.

The structure of the karmic conceptual pain body is supported by what is referred to as wind, or lung in the Bön tradition. It is possible to shift your attention from the story that occupies your mind and connect with the very wind, or force, that holds the pain body together. Our moving mind actively produces all manner of stories and logic. This mind actually rides a wind, and when you catch this wind with your awareness, it can be guided. By connecting to the wind, it is possible to cause the dissolution of the structure of the pain body. Catching the underlying wind is like catching a horse, a horse that you can now ride in a positive direction.

Through focusing the mind and exercising the body and breath in specific ways, we can actually release the habitual patterns of the conceptual mind and, as a result, directly discover being. We can discover openness and recognize in that openness the opportunities for growth that we may have always wanted but lacked the proper skillful means to obtain.
It is important to emphasize the distinction between the conceptual mind and the nature of mind, which I refer to as open awareness. We do not need to think in order to be aware. Open awareness means recognizing the fundamental, ever-present natural mind, which is clear and open like a light-filled sky. This state is natural to each of us, and the path of meditation leads us to recognize, trust and become increasingly familiar with it.Releasing our confusion
We can practise shifting our focus to connect with the underlying energetic structure of a challenge – this is the horse that you can catch and guide. So we can release the energetic structure of our confusion as we breathe out, to glimpse the clear and open space of mind.
Awakening the Sacred Body guides you to catch the horse of your habitual patterns, to harness and move this internal wind through attention to your breath, so that you can recognize your natural mind. The nature of mind is the unceasing source of all happiness and positive qualities. We will move the clouds that obscure the sky of the natural mind with the wind of our breath. We have the source of being within us; it is simply obscured by our thoughts and afflicting emotions.

The wisdom teachings of Bön work with three doors to liberation from suffering: body, speech and mind. In order to attain liberation through the door of the body, we must focus on releasing the winds that support the karmic conceptual pain body and connect with the subtle internal winds of the changeless essence body, the subtle winds that support the recognition of the natural mind. As you explore working with the internal winds, it is my sincere hope that you will find much medicine for your life.

From Awakening to the Sacred Body, ©2011 by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, published by Hay House.