"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." ~ Rumi Today our lives are filled with information overload and all kinds of professional trainings that we have forgotten who we are, naturally. Being authentic has turned into one more task we have to check off our many to do lists.
The busier people get the more distracted and unsettled they seem. Our attention spans are shrinking, but what are we doing about it? Trying to be mindful creates more anxiety because we are, again--trying.
There are schools and methods and techniques for everything imaginable and it seems that many of us grasp for all of them. Could all this learning actually keep us from ourselves? Our Joy?
I recently went to a dharma talk on the importance of meditating and "how" to meditate. One of the objectives of the instructor was to value the practice and not seek for an "end goal.". Even Kafka had said that if you just sit, the world will roll at your feet. It is really that simple: Sit. Don't get up. Breathe. Eventually your breath will find its natural rhythm if you don't allow your mind to interfere. (My mind interferes often...)
Many years ago, while reading Shunryu Suzuki's, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", I remember a similar message: enlightenment is really our true nature. So why do we make everything from how and whom we love, what we eat and how we breathe so complicated?
Could enlightenment simply be knowing what it means to feel alive?
Enlightenment and mindfulness is a coming home to the place before The Confusion began. Muddled Minds have their early stages rooted in turbulent pasts at a time when caregivers, religion and society decides much of our training and ultimately much of how we think and feel as adults.
Happiness. Happiness is the state of feeling alive. Meditation gets you to that feeling. Breathing keeps you in that feeling. It is that simple, but not so easy to achieve.
Misery is: Distraction. Overthinking. Anxiety. Busyness. All the things that keep us from ourselves and from any amount of joy.
Enlightenment can be a sudden moment of clarity, a gestalt of some sort that changes our lives forever, yet it can take many painful years to unravel the accumulated clutter from our rigid and overly structured pasts.
We are collecting the patterns of our future with the routines of our days. When we are curious about life and our world around us, we can settle our pasts and re-pattern our future with each day, naturally.
Unless we can lasso the feelings that support our thoughts, now, life can take us on a tumultuous course against our will, without ever knowing that our memories are preventing us from living richer, happier lives.
In Buddhism they suggest that we do not go digging up our pasts for we have too many pasts to glean into and it would take lifetimes to resolve each one. Whether the Buddhist philosophy is correct or not, I have discovered that it is more than enough work to change my old beliefs about myself and the world.
Even if there are other lifetimes, those life-times are as flimsy as our yesterdays and will only keep us from being available for our life today. When we focus our attention on ourselves and where we need to grow, ultimately we find a reservoir of energy and love available not only for ourselves but we find giving to others is a natural expression and extension of ourselves.
When we focus on the changing of others and the changing of the world--we actually find we are too depleted to give of ourselves to anyone.
Obviously the most challenging of memories are the negative ones from our childhoods that we unconsciously haul into our adult lives. For many of us, our past messages do weigh heavily on whether we are happy or not. The latent background memories and voices from our pasts are what prevents us from any hope of enlightenment.
What can we do?
We can heal our pasts today, every day by committing to being happy and by changing ourselves and not worrying about the anxieties and fears that make the world go busily around.
By being happy we will know how and when to slow down. When we are happy we seek out the silence in our day, even if it is for five minutes. Five minutes feels like eternity when you become friends with that intangible quietude and stillness--that space and place that holds the key to our soul.
So when that Clock is about to strike 12 and that noon train is approaching around the bend; the tracks are laden with golden bricks pointing in a Direction and your life is asking you: Decide, decide, decide....what will you do? What will you do? Mediate or procrastinate? Be happy or sad? (only time will tell...)