What is Trust?
While exploring Yuan Qigong, I came across the simple but existential question: What is Trust? This started a journey I could not predict.
Exploring the heart qualities
More than a decade ago, I began practicing Ren Xue and the nine methods of Yuan Qigong. My most cherished practice is the seventh method – Tong Yuan (Opening the Heart). It’s a guided heart meditation, a still practice, and a form of learning that continues with me throughout my day enabling small changes moment by moment. My experiences with it change over time, unravel old ways of being, and build a healthier foundation for my heart and my life. Within that unraveling, was a significant restoration and evolution of Trust. This learning has brought me healing and growth beyond what I had previously thought possible.
What is the true meaning of trust?
I once thought that it was all about trusting in a person, thing, or outcome. It was about having a desired sense of control over an outcome. This is not the kind of trust I refer to now. I’m referring to a quality that is more foundational to life. It is not at all dependent on an external set of circumstances. Let’s look at it in stages – it’s a bit tricky to get our minds wrapped around it before our hearts can truly feel it.
Trust is a deep belief that every experience we have in life teaches us something. While the experiences may not be easy, we have trust in our ability to find the lesson and work through any situation that we may face. When we make mistakes, which of course we will because we are human, we trust ourselves to be able to reflect, learn, and grow from them.
Trust is an inner state of being. It’s an innate part of who we are. It provides a sense of safety and it connects us within relationships. It is not dependent on external factors. It is a deep feeling that lives in our heart as a state of being. It is key to internal freedom.
Why? First, let’s clarify what trust is not.
Trust is not blind faith. We must still use our awareness and logic to keep ourselves safe. But by beginning in a state of trust, we are actually more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. We have more clarity. We notice when things are off.
Developing our ability to trust helps us relax because we are no longer on alert using up energy looking for danger. We can turn off underlying subtle anxiety. We trust in ourselves to know when and how to act when needed.
Trust is not getting what we want. It is instead allowing the flow of life to carry us and trusting that the universe will bring us what we need to live, grow, and thrive. Yes, sometimes this looks like lessons for us to work through, but with courage, working through these lessons will bring us to a new place of expansion, realization, and lightness.
Opening the Heart
When I sit in stillness, with my hands on my heart, and my focus on trust, I can feel trust bubble up. It was subtle at first but my relationship with feeling this state of trust has grown with practice. It feels like a good friend. I developed this ability by practicing Tong Yuan every day. It gradually provided the teachings that guide me into more understanding - both intellectually and within my heart. As I progressed through the three stages of trust in Tong Yuan, my quest became keeping this calm feeling and focus on trust when I got off my cushion and carried on with daily life. I began to notice the big and small places where I did not have trust. I was also more aware of its opposite – doubt. Often this took the form of self-doubt.
Paying attention to trust during the day gives me the opportunity to question and look at it from multiple perspectives. Every situation is a slightly different process taking varying lengths of time, but this self-inquiry, led by being aware of my heart, always brings me the gift of knowing myself better and bolstering my ability to relax into the heart quality of trust.
Trust requires acceptance of how things are. This does not mean we must remain passive and have no control over our direction in life. It is actually the opposite. If something has happened then it is the reality for us to deal with. Accepting this reality - accepting where we are - is the prerequisite to understanding our situation and taking steps for change from there. We cannot make effective change until we understand our beginning point and have a willingness to examine the circumstances and our role within them. Trust gives us a steady foundation from which to live.
Trust allows us to be in harmony with our environment, other people, and most importantly ourselves. It helps us have an open exchange with life and to receive as well as give. It is freeing.
We can learn to develop trust in life. We can develop our ability to peel off the layers blocking our innate connection to trust just as we learned to add the layers that block trust. Tong Yuan is the specific practice that helps us do that.
Like a spiral staircase winding into our hearts, we can move step by step into trust and into deeper connection with who we really are. Every step along this path brings us closer to freedom, joy, and confidence.
So, I’ll continue this journey I cannot predict.