Trust: Openness Rooted in Wisdom


Trust is one of the seven interdependent fundamental attitudes of mindfulness that are consciously cultivated during practice, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn. This is a sense of assuredness in the wisdom of the body, heart and mind to manage itself.

Through practice, confidence builds in our ability to face things. This eventually ripples out to increased trust in the outside world such as other people, relationships and the environment. We develop a certain courage and fearlessness as a result of this conviction.

The attitude of trust is not a matter of naiveté – it is rooted in experience and wisdom gained through consistent practice over time. Trusting in ourselves does not necessarily mean heeding our first unexamined instincts. When the mind is untrained, our initial impulses are often emotion or ego driven and arise out of conditioning and habit. Trusting also doesn’t mean being passive or complacent. We may still choose to act, but trust born of wisdom may prevent us from getting in our own way out of fear or ignorance.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them. ― Ernest Hemingway

Trusting in ourselves means believing that we are enough. We come to understand that we already possess everything we need to be fully ourselves – our essential nature is there waiting to be uncovered. We can trust in our good intentions knowing that we all want happiness, even if our actions in its pursuit are sometimes misguided. We can trust in our practice to provide clarity and guide our responses. Trust doesn’t require blind faith – we can test it through experimentation in our practice and through mindfulness in daily life.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ― E.E. Cummings

We have to take care not to fall prey to false trust. This is believing that something is trustworthy only if it goes the way we want it to. There are many things we can count on that are unwanted (like death and taxes). In a way, we can even count on uncertainty. These things may seem unpleasant, but they certainly are reliable. Trust means allowing ourselves, others and experience to be as they are, understanding that: 1) each being is on his or her own personal path, and 2) experience unfolds in its own time, within a larger context, beyond the scope of I, me, and mine.

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