When you think about what’s going on in the world these days it’s not hard to imagine why some people may find it challenging to feel anything other than worried or anxious about the future.
From mindless violence and hatred to economic instability and ever-changing technology, there’s certainly a lot going on to keep us distracted and disturbed from our own sense of self and well-being.
At least that’s the way some people think. While I notice what’s going on around me, I have learned the art of stepping back from my mind and emotions so that I don’t get caught up in things that don’t really matter.
What matters is what’s happening in your life right now in this moment. This has nothing to do with what you think or feel, and everything to do with what’s actually going on in the present moment.
The Gift of Presence
Being present is one of the most rewarding gifts you can ever give to yourself. It enables you to get out of your head and become more aware and alert in your body. When that happens, then you are automatically practicing mindfulness meditation.
There’s no magic trick to it and it’s certainly not just for those that belong in a monastery. Meditation is for everyone. It’s as natural as breathing and can be practiced anytime and anywhere once you realize that it’s just a choice of where to focus your attention.
At the core of meditation is awareness. Once you start to become more aware of the mind and the body and what’s going on from moment to moment, then you automatically step out of living on auto-pilot and step into being present.
Living on auto-pilot looks like your thoughts and emotions are in control of how you think and feel about yourself and the world around you. They cause you to have knee-jerk reactions to things that happen to you that cause you to think, feel and act in predictable ways.
I call this unconscious behavior. We know we are doing it, yet we find it hard to step out of our conditioned patterns of thinking and behaving. Becoming mindful of your thoughts and feelings, even for just a few minutes a day, is the first step towards breaking free from those that limit your life in some way.
Meditation gives us so much more than just being mindful. Yes, it’s good to be able to be more present so that we are not held to ransom by what happens within or around us but the real payoff is inner peace.
I spend a great deal of time each week connecting with people whose words and actions tell me just how out of balance they are in mind,body and spirit. Many people are so accustomed to living in a state of stress and anxiety that they aren’t even aware of the impact it’s having on them until they either break down or some part of their life starts to break apart.
This is not natural, yet it is readily accepted because we tell ourselves that if we just keep going a little longer everything will be okay. Things will get better when we have enough money. Or, we have the relationship we want. Or, we have the success we’ve been working on. Or some other mythical future that we cling to the hope of having.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to have goals and dreams, but if we’re always putting off happiness and peace in our lives until we achieve them, then it limits our current reality.
I’ve discovered that by meditating twice a day for 10+ years that not only has it become super easy to step back from the conditioned mind, the by-product has been a deeper sense of calm and inner peace that lasts throughout the entire day.
Does that mean that I never get derailed by things that happen? Of course not. What it does mean though is that 99% of the time I am in a state of calm assertiveness and that it takes a great deal of pressure before this state starts to change. When I do find myself out of balance it doesn’t last for long as it’s always easy to come back to my center in minutes.
The question here though is can anyone do this? My answer is yes. It really just depends on how willing you are to let go of having disharmony in your life. You see, it’s not what happens to you that matters – it’s how you react or respond.
We get to choose exactly the way our life looks and feels at any given moment. Not because of what we are doing, or what we have, but because of who we are. Our natural state of being is happiness and peace. It’s always there inside every cell of our body waiting to be embraced.
The only thing we need to do to experience it is to still the mind. Once we still the mind, then the inner peace and calm we can experience is endless.
This stillness is something that also exists inside us and it can be developed, just like we can develop our muscles. The difference is that when our thoughts and emotions quiet down, then we become aware of the stillness within.
So the part of us that we need to develop is the part of us that is aware that we think and feel. I call this part the observer. It’s that part of you that is aware that you are reading this and at the same time is aware that there’s another part of you that is observing the reader.
Try this for a moment. Close your eyes and place your attention on the palm of your left hand. Stay focused on your left palm for 30 seconds. Then, while you are focusing on your left palm, who is it that is aware that you are watching your left palm?
Inner peace and stillness are always available to you. You just need to step back from the mind and emotions for a moment so that it becomes obvious to you. It’s always waiting just under the surface of the waves of disturbance created by your thoughts and feelings.
You can enjoy inner peace 24/7. There’s no rule book of life that says that the majority of our moments have to be unpleasant, uncomfortable, or unenjoyable. That’s just something that far too many people buy into.
What if we bought into the reality that life is simple instead?
If we looked for simplicity, happiness, and peace with all our mind, body, and spirit each and every day, wouldn’t we be more likely to find it? The best part of all is that we don’t even have to look far. It’s right under our nose existing inside us as our natural state of being.
Meditation is the key to unlocking the door to a simple, yet peaceful way of life. It helps us to slow down inside ourselves so that we can recognize what’s fact from fiction, and so that we can enjoy a fullness and freedom in life that very few people will ever get to know.
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