Free Your Pen

Buddhist Writing Prompt: Examine the Nature of Awareness

Examine the nature of awareness asks you to turn your attention inwards and notice who is aware of your experience. If you want to train your mind you first need to understand how it works and who is doing all this thinking.

The original lojong slogan is: Examine the nature of unborn awareness. When you turn your attention inwards and try to catch yourself seeing or thinking or feeling, a curious thing happens. You disappear. There is no one seeing or thinking or feeling – there is just the seen, the thought, the feeling. When you look for what is behind the experience, all you find is awareness.

Everything that you experience happens in your awareness. You don’t tend to notice the space in which experience occurs because you’re focused on the contents of the experience – the sensation, feeling, thought, and so on. The contents of awareness loom so large in your mind that you don’t notice the awareness itself. This slogan reminds you to turn your attention towards the space in which everything happens – awareness itself.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by incorporating meditation or mindfulness into your daily routine. You could do this by meditating before you begin to write – a great way to clear your mind – or fit it into your day whenever you can. Just ten minutes can make a difference.

When there are too many distractions in your environment or your mind is filled with too many thoughts all vying for your attention, it can be hard to concentrate. Instead of getting caught up in the noise and letting your mind become scattered, this slogan reminds you to take a step back. By focusing on your awareness, you can clear your head of clutter and open a space in which you can think clearly.

Your writing prompt this weekend: Write mindfully in your journal and watch how the words come into your awareness as you write them down. Do you decide what to say or do the words just appear?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers
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2 thoughts on “Buddhist Writing Prompt: Examine the Nature of Awareness

  1. hi, Jessica,

    I appreciate your blog!

    I want to make a distinction between allowing “free association” and resting one’s mind in rigpa (pristine awareness, emptiness, shunyata, absolute truth, true nature of mind).

    The state of mind one gets into–like being in a trance or experiencing personal, transcendental openness–to allow for “free association,” or “automatic writing” or any of a dozen other situations to occur, is NOT the same as being in one of the states of being which are experiencing oneness itself, also known as “suchness,” “thusness” and “beingness.”

    Just as dzogchen practices are not the same as vipassana or shamatha practices, but one can be in those states/utilize those practices as routes to rigpa, meditations or states of openness/ spaciousness can be experienced either dually or as oneness.

    Many can confuse them.

    Best to you all,

    Sally Ember, Ed.D.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – in lojong practice there’s a difference between examining the nature of awareness and resting in awareness. Slogan 3 asks you to look into awareness to see how it works in action, as it were. Then in slogan 5 you simply rest in awareness. Hopefully I made the distinction clear in the book, but thanks for mentioning it.

      Liked by 1 person

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