Happiness, joy, contentment, well-being- whatever word you feel most comfortable using- is something you can create for yourself. It isn’t something that requires stuff, nor is it a goal to aim for. It’s not about denying difficult feelings, you’re not selfish to what to feel happy and by experiencing it you won’t make it go away. I’m guessing that when you stop to really think about what makes you happy in your life, you’ll find that it isn’t the big things. In fact, it isn’t things at all. It’s the intangible, seemingly small stuff of life that connects you to others, that has meaning, that lights you up inside.
Myth- To be happy you can never be sad
While fully in a happy moment you aren’t sad, but that hedonic kind of pleasure isn’t a permanent state of being. Eudaimonic well-being is about experiencing a range of feelings- not just the positive ones. Denying difficult feelings doesn’t guarantee happiness. How well could you experience calm and ease if you’ve never felt stress or pressure? By knowing how difficulties and sadness feel you can experience joy and contentment. It also involves experiencing feelings that you may not have readily associated with happiness, such as purpose, meaning, fulfillment, and altruism. Positive psychology research has found that practicing proven methods such as mindfulness and gratitude help increase the happiness felt and builds resilience. This means you are better able to cope with life’s challenges and difficulties.
happy. sad. despair. hope. kindness. repeat.
inquiry for today~ so now can you re-inspire again? 1000 more times? lifetimes?
Meditation comes alive through a growing capacity to release our habitual entanglement in the stories and plans, conflicts and worries that make up the small sense of self, and to rest in awareness. In meditation we do this simply by acknowledging the moment-to-moment changing conditions- the pleasure and pain, the praise and blame, the litany of ideas and expectation that arise. Without identifying with them, we can rest in the awareness itself, beyond conditions, and experience what my teacher Ajahn Chah called jai pongsai, our natural lightness of heart. Developing this capacity to rest in awareness nourishes samadhi (concentration), which stabilizes and clarifies the mind, and prajna (wisdom), that sees things as they are.
We can employ this awareness or wise attention from the very start. When we first sit down to meditate, the best strategy is to simply notice whatever state of our body and mind is present. Observing what is so, we can take a few deep breaths and relax, making space for whatever situation we find.
From this broad perspective, when we sit or walk in meditation, we open our attention like space, letting experiences arise without any boundaries, without inside or outside. Instead of the ordinary orientation where our mind is felt to be inside our head, we can let go and experience the mind’s awareness as open, boundless and vast. We allow awareness to experience consciousness that is not entangled in the particular conditions of sight, sound and feelings, but consciousness that is independent of changing conditions- the unconditioned. Ajahn Jumnien, a Thai forest elder, speaks of this form of practice as Maha Vipassana, an ideal or a distant experience. It is always immediate, ever present, liberating; it becomes the resting place of the wise heart.