Your Life is Calling You The Practice of Compassionate Self-Awareness by David McKay O

ur experience as humans is shaped by one inescapable fact: The quality of our lives is

determined by the focus of our atten- tion. Take a moment to let that sink in. The way in which we experience ourselves and the lives we lead; the happiness we enjoy and the sorrow we endure; the depth of our wisdom and understanding—all are determined not by the arrangement of outside circum- stances, as most believe, but rather by what we choose to attend to, moment by moment.

Where is your attention? If your attention is on the goodness and generosity of Life then you will experience abundance and gratitude; if your attention is on scarcity then you will feel deprived. If you choose to attend to happy things you will be happy; if not, you will suffer from sorrow and discontent. It’s as simple as that.

Attention is like money. Attention is naturally neutral, and can be spent on both good and ill. As humans, we are endowed with the capacity to choose—and yet few exercise this capacity. As children, we are trained to abandon our attention to outward distraction and to the inward confusion of culturally conditioned thought. We are taught to allow our social programming to choose our focus for us, and, in this way, we lose access to the joy and peace that is our birthright. We wonder if we are

“good” or “bad”; we compare ourselves to others; we seek empty things like

wealth and popularity; and we are mesmerized by the passing show. We forget to love ourselves and accept ourselves as we deserve, and we fail to acknowledge the breathtaking beauty and harmony of the world we live in, no matter where we are. This is the



o learn more about this way, join David McKay during the

weekend of October 14-15 at Unity of the Triangle in Raleigh for two workshops. David will facilitate the first workshop, “Your Life is Calling You: The Practice of Compassionate Self-Awareness,” on Saturday, October 14, from 9am-1pm in the Multipurpose Room and will reveal to you how to recognize and let go of the unconscious processes that create disharmony in your life. He will speak on the topic of “Practic- ing the Presence of God” during the 9am and 11am worship services on Sunday morning, and then follow up with an independent workshop on Sunday afternoon at 1:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. This workshop, entitled “The Joy of Our Own Love,”will focus on self-mentoring. You will learn how to unite with your authentic loving nature and live in harmony with the Life that animates us all. For information about the workshops and to register, visit

See ad on page 6.

reason why the world is in such a mess and why there is so much suffering: as the human family that we are, we spend our attention on an illusion.

There is a way to be happy. If this was the end of the story then we would be lost and our suffering would be inevitable. However, this is not the end of the story. We can regain our native power over our attention. We can become aware of the choice we have in the direction of our attention, and, through this awareness, acquire the ability to see through our confusion; through the illusion of our suffering and unhappi- ness; and attend to what IS. The great miracle of our existence on this earth is this: all that we long for and all that we are searching for lies easily within our grasp. Peace, joy, love, safety, and everything else good reside right here in the present moment, where we are. We have merely lost sight of them. There is a way to return to our natural happiness. This way is the work of spiritual practice.

David McKay lived and trained at a Zen Buddhist monastery in California for eighteen years. Three years ago, he left the monastery to seek new challenges and opportunities in the world. Currently David works and practices in the mountains of Colorado, from where he offers a spiritual counseling and coaching practice, writes a blog, and conducts workshops on various topics. He is the author of One Open Door: Adventures of a Zen Buddhist Monk. For information on David and his work, visit

natural awakenings October 2017 41

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