The other morning I arrived at my favorite beach on the Sunshine Coast. Consciously, I focussed my attention in the present moment. I felt into the warmth on my skin as the sun shone above me. Golden grains of sand soothed my feet. The turquoise water glittered cheerfully in my open sight and the smell of salt air filled my nostrils. Opening to the current moment was simple because the experience was pleasurable. However, we often mistake the experience of pleasure is a goal to strive towards.
Happiness… The great myth
So often, we want the experience of happiness above the not so pleasant experiences. We strive to seek happiness, only to become bitterly disappointed at its absence. We close ourselves off to our pain, resist uncomfortable feelings and tense at stressful situations. Yet, it is often our belief that only happiness is acceptable, and our expectation that we can constantly achieve this state of being, that creates so much discomfort.
The truth is that practising mindfulness is not about seeking pleasant experiences and happiness. Rather, it is about experiencing whatever the present moment offers. Only when we accept “what is”, can we begin to make conscious choices that may eventually alleviate pain and create happiness.
The benefits of remaining mindful in the present moment
When we practice mindfulness with the intention of remaining present with an experience irrespective of whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we learn new meaningful insight and build inner strength. OK, remaining present with the experience of leaving our hand on a hot plate while we burn may be pushing it too far. However, given that the experience is physically and emotionally safe, we can gain a lot from learning how to not resist pain.
Perhaps even more confronting than remaining present with physical pain, emotional distress offers some of the most powerful challenges. I do not mean that we should leave ourselves in situations where we are being emotionally harmed, but rather, when we learn to stay present with our own emotions rather than run from them, we open ourselves to learn some of our richest lessons in life. Only when we can tolerate our emotion, can we listen to messages within and then change our situation with wisdom rather than knee-jerk reactions.
Perhaps these Christmas holidays, adopting a regular mindfulness practice may help you to increase conscious awareness of your emotional patterns and acquire valuable wisdom about your life. Whether this practice influences your family relationships at Christmas dinner, your inner psyche, or simply awakens your awareness, expanding personal insight through mindfulness can open your appreciation to the magic of the moment.
Conscious Solutions www.conscioussolutions.com.au