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The Power of Trusting

Excerpted from Free Yourself by Carolyn Hobbs.

I lie on the living room couch exhausted, two weeks before Christmas. Luckily, after years of coming back into the present, I know how to switch channels. I shift focus—away from racing thoughts about cards and packages I need to mail, toward my trustworthy anchor: my breath. As I watch my inhalation and exhalation, my breath deepens, body relaxes, pulse slows. I reconnect with my heart, trusting what is.

From this deeper sense of self, my wise heart easily holds what I am thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, and sensing. It holds it all in spacious awareness, taking none of it too seriously. Focused fully in the present, I now see the snow-laden ponderosa pine towering outside the back patio window and hear a black crow flapping her wings overhead. For a few seconds, my sacred connection with all living things floods my senses. I see how the ponderosa’s huge presence—and my own trusting heart—accept and receive life on life’s terms. A veil of inner peace descends over me.

Awakened with gratitude, Christmas chores all feel workable again.

Our heart trusts life. It trusts the present moment, where life happens, and where our heart always lives. It trusts the infinite wisdom and truth that unfold in the everyday details of ordinary life. It delights in all the sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and experiences sharing this present moment without judging any of them.

When we join our trusting heart in the present moment, we too trust life.

Buddha had a knack for describing what makes us tick in terms we can understand. He taught that, in the big scheme of things, we humans resist what is. No matter what is true in any given moment, we want life to somehow be different, easier, more in our favor. Unknowingly, our thoughts drift into anxiety, fear, doubt, and judgment out of habit. Whether living in Europe, Asia, Africa, North or South America, we are all born into a binding, blinding molasses-type substance called unconscious conditioning. Until we spend some minutes each day making these unconscious habits conscious, they will rule our life.

While we go about the business of our lives, we spend the lion’s share of our time letting thoughts, fears, doubts, and judgments captivate every waking minute—as if these are who we are. Of course we don’t wake up declaring, “Today I’ll waste every moment lost in thoughts.” No, such habits occur unconsciously. Like subliminal advertising, they grab our attention while we are driving, working, eating, playing, and generally living our lives. Soon, without realizing it, we’ve slid down the slippery slope into fear, doubt, and judgment.

The grand prize for waking up out of our unconscious conditioning is better than a brand new Mercedes or free trip to Paris. Buddha taught that—underneath all thoughts and fears, feelings and sensations—we are all born with an unlimited capacity for joy, loving-kindness, compassion, and inner peace. This is our pot of gold. Inner peace and freedom live right here, right now always, inside our trusting heart.

For instance, when my friend Jan’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack at sixty-two, she felt enraged, then sad, then hopeless, like she had no reason to live. But a seasoned meditator for years, as Jan watched her incessant thoughts—“This should never have happened this way, how will I ever recover?”—she began to focus on the present. “All my thoughts terrified me, Carolyn, but I trusted my body to know what to do even now. It relaxed into sobbing for all the sadness I’ve ever experienced in my whole life. Afterward, inner peace washed over me, inspiring me to keep honoring my waves of grief.”

Shifting from unconscious habits into freedom takes work and conscious choice.

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