Into the Frying Pan: Deepening Your Awareness When the Heat Is On

Since difficult situations won’t go away, I encourage you to use them. When I first suggest this to students and others who connect with me, I’m sure the initial response in their minds is something like, “But I can’t do that.” Yes, you can, and you’re the only one who can do that for you. You need to deal with any avoidance tendencies that you have to stand in that frying pan. Now, the point is not to go looking for difficult situations to prove stuff to yourself either, nor is the point to do this before you have a set spiritual practice. Having a meditation practice and other practices helps you to become aware of yourself and how to be fully present in the moment.

Building up your awareness and general calmness helps you to take a deeper level of presence out into the world when the situations aren’t so serene and peaceful. This, of course, is where deeper awareness is most needed. We can’t hide this stuff in monasteries and Sunday meditation groups. We need it in the world…desperately. So if you’ve got a little bit of an altruistic spirit, think of being in difficult situations mindfully as being one way that you’re changing the world. I won’t say to enjoy the heat, but pay attention to it. See what is there for you that is making it so “hot,” and understand that at any time, you can change the situation by accepting it more deeply, changing it in some way that feels true to you, or by leaving it.

-Spiritual Awakening Process, Jim Tolles


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