If you desire a better quality of life, then using more accurately the capabilities that make us distinctively human should be on the peak of your value summit. Mindfulness is one of the greatest and simplest tools for a marvellous experience of every single day. Anything material and even emotional that is temporary and flies away like a sheet of paper in a swift swirl of the wind, will not improve the holistic quality of your life. Something will always be missing.
Superficial people are inherently lying to themselves by not acknowledging what is truly making them happy in the long-term. One can look at a painting from an aesthetic perspective, on its fame and monetary value, yet there is more in art that has the ability to penetrate our hearts, connect souls and induce the feeling of unity, and this is wonderful.
Emotions and thoughts are the essence of humanity. Therefore we shall take our time with focused thinking, feeling fully and naming the emotions racing through the body and mind, and try to use the higher level of awareness that enables creativity and empathy. After all, these superior traits gave us advantages over the other species living on Earth. Still, we need to control some of our overwhelming emotions for wellbeing. There is a healthy way of doing this and a harmful way – repression, etc.
The need to tame our minds for wellbeing beyond the individual
Variety is natural, but can also be overwhelming, especially for a complex thinker. It can become a burden when there is too much stimulation going on around as it does in our modern cosmopolitan world. I am a thinker and world traveller, so I am deeply in this red alert zone myself. I learned that I’d better select what I want to see and what to ignore in order to create a more comfortable and peaceful life. Though my own efforts consequently I am contributing to a better world as a whole.
When we open the doors of our consciousness for certain ideas we let them shape our worldview.
Ovid wrote that men feel the good less intensely than the bad. In psychology it is called the negative bias. Seneca went into extreme as he mentally discarded any belonging (attachment) to avoid pain from loss.
But, one can go easier with oneself. Our attitude can be influenced by mindfulness. For example if instead of material ownership we focus on experience and creating meaningful relationships, we may become more content. Attitude can also be used as a mantra: “Do not worry, there are problems all the time. Do not pay attention to them, they will disappear anyway.” As the result of thinking this impermanence-leaning way, one is eager to experience the world in all shades as it passes by. A form of non-attachment that is more balanced than the stoics’ rashness.
Direct your emotions so they flow smoothly
To think and perform better we need focus. To tame the gushing stream of disruptive emotions, we need to be able to stop and acknowledge them, and only then we can profit from the higher level of general awareness. This simple awareness can heal, in fact it is so potent that it has been used for almost fifty years in an increasing number of open-minded hospitals to alleviate pain. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the father of mindfulness in the West, has written countless by experience and science-backed books on the magnificent potential of engaging awareness for a better life.
Athletes improve, writers become more connected and precise, while a mother upset about her child crying can change her aura, so the baby is soothed without much effort.
Float on higher awareness
A dog may be more aware of smell than us, but cannot create something lasting that imprints on his kin and inspires, well except procreating puppies. While we create relationships with animals, they are based on simple attachment such as not feeling lonely and sharing trust with someone who does not challenge us with judgement and words, a comfort zone pleaser.
Science ventures forward by pushing the boundaries of some of our knowledge, and as long as we are far more complex creatures (before AI takes over), an animal is not capable of inventing something. Thus sharing knowledge immortalises us through intellectual effort.
Human complexity though can make our lives messy, so we need to tame the wild herd of thoughts and emotions in our body. Hectic lifestyles of large cities, obsession with speed not just on the roads, in sports, but also in thinking, these are not sustainable for a long, healthy life. Most contemporary diseases are caused by stress, repressed feelings and our automatised daily actions. All the while, millennia of wisdom and experience teach us that we are getting more off balance if we do too much. Mindfulness facilitates awareness of our limits and realising where we are currently in our own life.
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, said:
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
The reality of life is harsh for most people. We need to work in order to survive, yet even in this situation trying to get the best out of the moment. Being mindful of what we are doing brings more satisfaction with even the most boring or highly challenging chores we have to do.
In a consumer society, when excess is the norm more than scarcity, we can become the victims of the wrong circuit of life. Material pleasures in life are enjoyable, yet do not form a holistic completeness in long-term, genuine satisfaction with our existence.
We can also ask, what makes that pleasant experience last for longer? One of the easiest tools is mindfulness. Turning our attention off in some instances while keeping our focus on the pleasure experienced in that certain moment would make it even more enjoyable as well as preventing us from skipping off to other subject, experience or object way too soon. It is like stopping time. Perhaps this can even prolong orgasm, which is all about hormones and the mind can turn them on and off.
Overcoming the challenges: do not fight, but still use your weapons
Being in the moment may sound as an overwashed phrase in the media lead by the flamboyant entourage of self-help gurus. Yet this is not just another luxury invented by the contemporary, emotions exploiting marketing savvily pampering the eccentricities of affluent comfort. Yes, yoga became cultish and a lifestyle of many stressed city dwellers seeking peace of mind, but our busy lifestyles instinctively crave something grounding and yoga does it well.
I struggled with this musing. Half-way through writing it, I realised that I am tackling something that I have not mastered myself yet despite practicing yoga for twenty years. I battle with mindfulness on a daily basis. Am I thus suggesting a solution to something that is not easily applied?
As it often happens, when we let go, a mountain veiled in fog renders into a bright, clear glacier. The revelation occurred one morning during my yoga practice. Conceptualising awareness in my mind as a battle was actually a hurdle I had created for myself. The combative mode stopped me from allowing mindfulness into my mind and residing there. Muscle-tensing determination can flood in anxiety. Yet, mindfulness needs to enter softly, like a dancer with an intuitive sense for movement tiptoeing into everyday existence. Relax and it happens naturally.
BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
Your focus will improve in most daily activities. As a result your performance will too.
Achievement is a short snippet of happiness, but if we make the experience of getting towards our goal more meaningful every day, if we connect with our most cherished values, then we more likely enjoy our journey as much as the milestone or the final destination.
You might be happier as you notice the subtle nuances of your surroundings and become more interested in digging deeper into daily necessities such as preparing and savouring a meal with your loved ones.
By shifting attention to the positive side of reality we create and spread happiness to the people closest to us. We can further contribute to everyone’s betterment by helping them to shift their attention from pain, emotional strain, grief and other discomforts in life.
Mindfulness guides us away from the robotic mode that we tend to slip into naturally when doing something familiar repeatedly.
Improved control of your cravings as you will be able to detach from minute pleasure, and achieve more balanced and healthy body weight.
Listening to our body and mind’s needs is crucial for holistic and sustainable health maintenance.
If we employ mindfulness then we won’t be able to exploit anyone or anything because of our higher state of awareness is about being engaged with something meaningful, genuinely nurturing and positive.
Appreciate the fruits of nature and human labor. Savour the great moments in life by paying a greater attention to them through mindful enjoyment. Guilt-free since this is the most sustainable way of living.
By appreciating the beauty of seemingly ubiquitous feelings and objects around us, we will become attentive observers of our surroundings. Smell the roses in the garden, look closely on the brush strokes on a painting and feel the softness of the silk blouse you are wearing to work. Be grateful for living in this wonderful world! La Muse Blue is founded exactly on this premise, and I hope that my essays will guide your journey to happiness.
I shared the Best mindfulness practices that will elevate your life in another post.