The aforementioned “downs” in awareness are unavoidable, so there is no need to become upset about it. On the other hand, if you experience no “downs” at all as you begin practicing, then you are most likely thinking rather than witnessing.

There are two aspects to saving inner energy. One is associated with self-discipline, the willful decision to forgo chasing certain desires to save extra energy to practice witnessing. The advantage of this approach is that the mind is already familiar with it—control is in its nature! The mind will take over eagerly and begin repressing any desires, including those most innocent. The disadvantage of this approach naturally derives from the advantage. Repression of desires creates tension in all three lower bodies; in addition, sooner or later, the desires will win and throw one into very deep unconsciousness.

Another way to conserve your energy is to discontinue activities that you perform mechanically, from habit, or to meet others’ expectations. For example, one of the most difficult moments early in practicing awareness is to continue self-observation during a conversation. Once you begin talking, your attention becomes focused completely on making sense of the other person’s words and determining your responses. Even a brief observation of yourself through the course of the conversation will attest that communication requires energy and is a time-consuming activity. A great deal of your energy spent during talking is wasted on unconscious chatting. It will do you no harm to drop off such communication and meanwhile take the opportunity to observe that the mind enjoys jabbering.

I think that everyone, if they take the time to look into their lives carefully, will be able to identify everyday tendencies that became mechanical habits that offer nothing to either the mind or the heart. Breaking them off would be equally alright. Renouncing them is a temporary measure that allows for the time necessary to strengthen the skill of witnessing. Once the habit of being aware has a good foundation, you will be free to resume everything that you put on hold—should you wish to do so, of course, for some unexplainable reasons.