I went to a meditation practice and talk recently led by a teacher I enjoy very much and look forward to attending the group when he is there. I like the simplicity of his instructions during the sit, e.g., “However you are sitting is completely spiritual enough.” He seems to understand and relate to the struggle and expectation that can come from exploring meditation and mindfulness and verbalizes the essence of this skillfully and with humor. I have appreciated this about him since the first time I sat with him (shout out to my friend Melanee for the intro to this group).
One of the things he spoke about was this notion of “if only.” The idea that in some future moment, we will find happiness or peace. If only I had this car, then I would be happy. If only I had a partner, then I would be happy. When I stop being angry, I will find peace. When I get a new job, things will make more sense. When my boyfriend and I are living together, then our relationship will really begin. While I think it may be the case that if/when any of the above is attained, we may indeed be happy or peaceful, etc.; the idea here is that while we are waiting for that next moment to arrive, and while we are living in the mirage that the next whatever will be better than the now, we are completely missing out on what is happening in our current experience. “When we think some other moment holds what this one doesn’t, this is suffering.” Nothing that hasn’t happened is guaranteed. I find myself needing to be reminded of this in my own mind as I am in limbo and waiting for two big changes in my life to occur. It is almost certain that both will happen, but not guaranteed. I find myself frequently thinking the “if…only” scenario. This talk was a timely reminder of being aware of what is happening in my mind right now.
Sometimes, it is incredibly difficult to stay present, especially when there are negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, and/or sensations. It can feel intolerable and all we want to do is get away from it. The funny thing about how our minds work is that the more we try to run away from something, the more it tends to creep back in. The paradox seems to lie in leaning into the pain a little. There are things in my life that I want to lean away from, I definitely know that. I’m trying to work on exploring what it might be like to just entertain the idea of opening one of those doors and just peeking in to see what is there. It seems to be a delicate dance of opening the door and shutting it and perhaps opening it a little wider the next time around.
“For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then, life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” ~ Alfred D’Souza
May you find happiness and peace in this moment.