Training our Mind towards Compassionate Attention

Training of the mind

In my personal decision to choose to be present for all of life, the good and the bad, I know that I also need tools and aspects that are going to help keep me grounded and stable. Last week’s blog on compassionate attention really started to show me that that is a foundation from which confidence, ease, and an ability to be with every emotion in every experience can be had. Read it here.

“So the real question for us as human beings, especially if we want to live with a full capacity of presence, and wisdom, and understanding, is – How do we touch these ever-changing dimensions of praise and blame, and pleasure and pain, gain and loss? Do we touch them with fear, and contraction, of grasping? Or can we bring compassion, a presence, a graciousness, and ease for the measure of joy and sorrow that you’re given, for the measure of praise and blame that you’ll have, for the measure of tears and the measure of beauty that’s part of your life and part of all human lives? Can you touch that, all of it, with kindness, with graciousness? And in doing so, it allows you to then respond to the circumstances of your life, but not react out of fear.”-Jack Kornfield, spoken excerpt from ‘The Power of Awareness’

The above question that Jack presents is where I started.

As I began to attribute this specifically to human emotions, and in need for stability, I started with Compassionate Attention.  I also discovered, yet again, that it is the breath and the body that are the grounding foundations from which to start.

As we take focus upon our breath, as we bring awareness to our body, and then layer in awareness to things outside of ourselves, and awareness of our own thoughts, a storm of emotions can arise. And in the center of that storm is the calm and peaceful Center. That is our highest self. And our Highest Self is like a tall, strong, deeply rooted, ever expansive and infinite source of light that is looking out upon everything with love and acceptance.

To connect to that Highest Self, the tools of the breath, body, and mindfulness practices are ways in which we then stay living in that center.

It is a training. Even as I complete my prerequisites for my 2-year training ahead, my teachers, Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, call it that, ‘training’.  It truly is a training of the mind.  Our tools include the breath and the body and the heart, and this becomes a training of the mind.

Yoda said, “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” He is right. When I train myself to let go of that, which I don’t want to let go of, it brings freedom. It also allows me to love, appreciate, and feel more grateful for that thing that I don’t want to lose. More grateful for time spent with someone who I might not ever get to see again. Grateful for the time with my beloved’s. Grateful for the sweet little moments with a flower, with the sunrise, and while walking my dog, Astro.

Yoda also said,“Fear is the path to the dark side, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Isn’t this so true?!

And in the state of our world, during these current times, how difficult and challenging I find it to live without fear. And I know that fear is a barrier and a blockage. I know that fear creates suffering. Attachment creates suffering. And so I choose to put my focus and my compassionate attention elsewhere.

“Your focus determines your reality.”-Qui-Gon Jinn, Episode I, The Phantom Menace.

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our viewpoint.”-Obi Wan, Episode VI

This does not mean that I don’t look at that which I do fear. This does not mean that I don’t look at the emotions that are painful. This does not mean that I’m not looking at sadness and jealousy, fear, grief, anger, resentment.  It DOES mean that I am looking out all of these things with compassionate attention, from my Highest Self.

“Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say we are encouraged to love.”-Anakin Skywalker, Attack of the Clones

“Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.”-Yoda to Anakin in a meditation room, Episode III

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”-Yoda

In her book, ‘Furiously Happy’, Jenny Lawson writes: “I wish someone had told me this simple but confusing truth: Even when everything’s going your way, you can still be sad. Or anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.”

This is why it is training. “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”-Yoda

Isn’t it incredible how yoga, Yoda, and Star Wars speak the same language?! The practices of the Jedi are the same as the practices of the yogi. Physical as well as mental. Heart-centered and action oriented. Navigating our emotions and our energy, our prana, and our force, in order to know that we are the Force! 

“A Jedi strength flows from the force.”- Yoda

Even as we are the Force and the Force flows from us, it flows towards us.

When we are manipulating, moving the Force, and taking action… purposefully sending the Force out, may we always choose to make it from a compassionate place. “Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the force are they.”-Yoda

So I invite you to have fun and take up this training! Turn your focus away from the dark place because as you shed light and offer compassionate attention to yourself and all of your experiences and emotions, your self-realization will be felt and you will know your highest self. 

“In a dark place we find ourselves and a little more knowledge lights our way.” -Yoda, Episode III

Take up the training of compassionate attention so that you light your way to that calm center. So that you stay connected to your heart.

Remember, you are not alone!

“We will always be with you. No one’s ever really gone. A thousand generations live in you now.”-Luke Skywalker, Episode IX

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not.”-Yoda

Let’s do this! Together!

“Rebellions are built on hope.”-Jyn, Rogue One


May the force be with you,


Breathe and Believe.

P.S. Thanks to my dear friend, Diana D., Who created this epic picture of myself portrayed as Rey!! Thank you Diana!!!