Trusting in yourself may seem like an easy thing to do, but if we get caught up in our thinking, we may be misled by our tightly held beliefs, ideas, or opinions. In mindfulness meditation we are invited into this deep trust of ourselves, to trust our intuition. It is asking us to trust that if something does not feel right to us, then we have to trust our feelings and honor them in a way that is a true expression of ourselves.
In my years of Zen practice, teachers would always test this trust. You may have answered a question 100% correctly, but they would say to you that the answer is not completely correct. Often they would do this to test your conviction to your answer. Most of the times they would do this because they did not hear the sincerity or the conviction in your speech. Once challenged, what happens many times is we start doubting ourselves and think that perhaps we did or said something wrong. If we stay with the doubt, we miss the mark, but if we come back and challenge the teacher, we can see that we are correct. Zen after all is 100% trusting in yourself. This is a true gift from a teacher challenge us in this way because we often put so much stock in their authority that when we are told we are wrong, we believe it.
One day, my Taiji teacher and I were doing pushing hands and it had been years that I was unable to knock him out of his unbelievable strong root. Then one day we were pushing and we went lower and lower and then I pushed him and he began to fall over. I immediately thought, "I did it...I finally got through." And just then, he countered me and I was the one who fell over. Afterwards he said, "You almost had me for a moment, but your mind got in the way." That was a powerful teaching that has been with me ever since.
To take on a practice like mindfulness, this level of trust is important so that we honor our feelings when we are unsure. This way, we do not practice beyond the limits of what our lives are presenting to us in this moment. If we do not listen to ourselves, we can easily get caught up in ideas of right and wrong, this and that, and then miss the fullness of each moment. We can even hurt ourselves if we do not listen to our bodies. Remember that the flavor of meditative practices requires us to be our own true self and understand what it means to be that self with all of its limitations and potentials. In Taoism, they refer to this as following your own Tao...meaning that each of us is a unique expression of the Tao and so we must trust its full expression in each moment.
It is really easy in these days to get lost in the flooding of social media and think that if we imitate someone or look like them and act like them that we will get what they have, but this is not the correct direction in meditation. We can never be like someone else, we can only be ourselves. Having models and examples of the kind or person we would like to be can be a good thing, but we must assimilate these models in to ourselves and become more of who we are. When we copy others then we are no longer authentic. The Gestalt therapist, Fritz Perls called this type of coping "introjection," where we uncritically accept others' beliefs and opinions and make them our own without testing it against our own experience.
The approach of mindfulness meditation puts before us the very challenging situation of being truly ourselves without becoming a phony. When we end up at this place of being insincere or inauthentic, we become not possessed of anything real. You have to live your own life, not someone else's life. You have a responsibility for being true to yourself and listening to that inner voice.
Siddhartha Gautama, who later was referred to as the Buddha (one who is awake), spoke to a group of people called the Kalamas, in speaking with them he said,
"Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.
So, even the Buddha was basically saying, don't take my word for it or anyone else's for that matter, take these things into consideration and when tested against your own experience, if they are true for you then abide by that.
So, we must trust in ourselves 100%
As Ekhart Tolle said in The Power of Now, “If you really want to know your mind, the body will always give you a truthful reflection, so look at the emotion, or rather feel it in your body. If there is an apparent conflict between them, the thought will be the lie, the emotion will be the truth.”
Now, that is a powerful statement, but it is true because our bodies speak a language that is immediate and intimate with each momentary experience. The visceral response of each moment is not divorced form the immediacy of now. The thought which comes along later is just a mental event which may or may not be true. When we practice mindfulness we allow ourselves the opportunity to have a more accurate appraisal of what is going on and can act accordingly to each moment rather than getting completely stressed out over it.
I hope that in each moment we can all do our best to trust in ourselves 100%. The late teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn used to say, trust in yourself 100%, only go straight, keep a don't know mind and save all beings from suffering.
So, this don't know mind is the mind that is just like this from moment to moment. The direct experience with nothing else added for artificial flavoring.