In The Truth of Our Existence, a new discussion series from Pema Chodron, she provides wisdom on ‘Four Teachings from the Buddha to Illuminate Your Life’— tools that help open you up to the beauty of enlightenment that’s possible in everyday life for all of us.

She talks of things that are simple yet profound.  An idea that may easily be overlooked. She observes: “You just have to notice and that’s not always so easy. But it becomes easier and we definitely have that as an innate capability; which is our natural awareness, ‘awakeness’—the ability to know what’s happening. It’s an innate quality of our mind; we know what’s happening. Well, we don’t always know what’s happening, but we have awareness of what’s going on— even if we can’t figure it out.”

Which begs the question—are you really awake? It’s more than your eyes being open and your body cycling breath in and out.  Take a moment to ponder, when was the last time you really thought about what’s going on in your life— which is different than trying to solve that problem. The ‘thought’ is examining a situation from a full-picture perspective— the reason something is happening, the why.  Many times we truly are so busy trying to figure out a quick and painless fix, we lose sight of the question; the most important part.

We all know people, maybe it’s even us personally, that continue to hit the same wall time-after-time— suffering and trying to escape the depths and cycles of debt, bad relationships, depression, and the like. Beginning to panic when we see a bill, have a fight or experience a negative thought. Many times, the immediate reaction is to search for an answer instead of identifying the root of an issue.  

It’s important to consider: What’s happening and why is it so? Instead of feeding into continued turmoil by trying to solve problems as we go along— putting the answer as the high priority, how we’re going to fix something before we’ve even considered the question, why something is happening.

When we allow ourselves the opportunity to retrain our brain to examine the situation, to examine our ‘natural awareness’; our ability to come to the best resolution is increased.  By taking Chodron’s advice, we begin to develop our sense of what she refers to as ‘awakeness’—our internal knowledge of ‘what’s going on’ in our lives from a more proactive perspective.

This grand idea even speaks to another pearl of wisdom that Chodron so astutely pointed out in an inspiring piece for Shambhala Sun: ‘be free from fixed mind.’  It so perfectly fits this perspective and the importance of allowing your heart and your mind to be open and to have peace within yourself.  It’s fruitless to try to grasp into the ether to identify an answer to whatever challenges arise—consider all of the components that make the situation as it is—then, you will no longer have to search for the answer, the answer will instead find you.