The Search for Comfort Zones

By Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche //

With every blink of the eye, with every breath, we are trying to find comfort—some kind of relief from the underlying agitation and unsettledness of our ordinary mind. We look to family or friends, to some source of stimulation, or to an infinite number of other external conditions that we hope will help us. When we listen to music, watch movies, or engage in any other form of entertainment, in one way we are enjoying it, but in another way it is also an example of using our ordinary mind to find comfort. Our search for this comfort arises from the primordial fear within our ordinary mind.

We are all trying to find a comfort zone, and when our circumstances inevitably change and we are no longer in a comfort zone, our secure and hopeful world is gone. Even when we are getting what we want, we worry that we may lose our comfort zones. We worry about losing our job, our family, our relationship, our health, and anything else that temporarily provides that zone of comfort. We worry that these things will collapse. We think, “What will I do if he breaks up with me?” “How will I deal with losing my job?” “What will happen to me?” And, indeed, some of these things do come to pass. If we depend on these circumstantial events for our security and self-confidence, we are truly vulnerable.

We go through our whole life like this. At first we are young children with so many toys to fascinate and distract us. Then we grow older and go to parties. We feel, “Oh, yeah, I’m funny. People like me. I’m happy.” Then we fall in love and spend all our time with our partner. Then we think we want to get married and have children, so we get married and have children. Then we are satisfied with our life, feeling that we have accomplished something. These are the comfort zones we find throughout our lifetime.

With all of these steps in our life, we may be building some contentment, but it is circumstantial. In the end, we don’t gain anything. We gradually lose everything we own, our family and friends around us go their own ways or pass away, and even our own body grows old and frail. Our temporary comfort zones don’t provide deep solutions to our dissatisfaction.

Once we are in touch with Pristine Mind, however, we discover an internal true comfort zone. Then, even if our outer comfort zones collapse, we are still content and do not experience the fear and pain of loss that we do in ordinary mind.

When you truly experience your mind as pristine and flawless, when you know your pure awareness, your true consciousness, when you recognize and remain within that, then deep down you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fulfilled. You are intimately connected with who you really are and with the world.

As your meditation progresses, then your own thoughts, emotions, and mental chatter slowly dissolve, giving you contentment and satisfaction. Then all relationships you have with others are enhanced, and when those relationships come to an end, for whatever reason, you remain fulfilled because you are not entirely dependent on circumstances. You are not merely numbing yourself temporarily to feel content; your contentment is springing forth naturally.

Then any relationships you have, any trips you take, any parties you attend, any sensory experiences you enjoy, are enhanced by your innate happiness. Then whatever you do is more grounded. Then those things are no longer distractions; you are experiencing true happiness. When your mind is pristine, external conditions actually arise as manifestations of happiness, not distractions.

From Our Pristine Mind by Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche © 2016 by Orgyen Chowang. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

About the Author

Orgyen Chowang RinpocheOrgyen Chowang Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Nyingma lineage of the Buddhist tradition. He studied for nine years at Larung Gar in Serta, eastern Tibet, with his teacher, Jigmed Phuntsok Rinpoche, who is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Dzogchen meditation masters of the twentieth century. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the founder and spiritual director of Pristine Mind Foundation. He travels throughout the United States and around the world teaching a broad range of audiences—including those at universities, tech companies, and yoga studios—how they can improve their lives through meditation. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche is the author of Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness, available from Shambhala Publications.


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