The Seeking Phase
Consciously Charting the Course
Seeking is a natural part of life. As we learn to recognize this phase of the mindful path, we are able to use the energy generated by striving towards something in a conscious and helpful way. We also learn about effort and the importance of diligence in transforming the habits of escaping, wallowing, or hiding from discomfort. Mindfulness practice eventually enables us to trust an awareness that supports wholehearted action and grounds our life in presence.
When seeking is not conscious it can lead to repeating unhealthy patterns, to depression, to feelings of being lost, and to selfishness. We can become trapped by our desire for relief and fill ourselves up with surface level distractions. There is a time and place for enjoying the pleasures of life, such as watching tv, our favorite sport, reading fiction novels, gossiping with friends, sex, and mind-altering substances. It becomes a problem when we use these actions as a way to not sense into our unhappiness, stress, or longing for connection. By doing this, the energy of seeking is being channeled into a process of fulfillment that is only momentary and in the end leaves a sense of incompleteness or lack.
To go deeper with your answer, write a response and then ask the question again, contemplating it deeply, and then write your next response. Continue this recursive inquiry until you feel like you’ve landed at something deeply meaningful.
The two main questions that come up for people in the seeking phase are:
- 1.How can I develop a consistent practice?
- 2.What practice should I be doing?
Both of these questions are only answerable when we clarify what it is that we’re seeking for. Suffering, stress, and struggle are powerful motivators to take action, but they don’t give us a whole lot of information about what the best actions are. In order to get traction on the path it’s important that we begin to seek in a conscious way.
As we incline towards consciously seeking, mindfulness practice aligns the course of transformation with our intention. Just by naming some of the ways that seeking may show up in your life, you are beginning to fine tune the compass of the heart towards whole-hearted action and simple happiness.
As we travel down the road of consciousness, we need to leave room to re-examine intentions, motivations, and what we are seeking. However, we have to find our starting point. In this part of the seeking phase we begin by identifying what it is that we would like to learn more about or a habit we would like to change. The important point here is to find a compelling vision for the future.
Describe in as much detail as possible what you see, who’s around you, what your practice is like, etc.
As your vision becomes clearer, so too will your motivation for practice. Often, at a basic intuitive level, you’ll know exactly what you need to be doing. That said, it’s not always easy to recognize & trust this internal guidance.
When you’re not entirely clear what you should be doing yet it’s helpful to do some practice sampling. Here you can try multiple meditative techniques until you find something that clicks. How will you know when it clicks? Look for feelings of contagious excitement, a sense that you’ve finally found what you need to make the journey, and an overall sense of optimism & hope. Watch out though, you may also find yourself wanting everyone around you to be doing this practice. That’s a good sign that you’ve found what you’re looking for, but keep in mind that one size does not fit all when it comes to meditation.