The very purpose of life is to experience happiness. Each of us has the same potential to develop inner peace and thereby achieve happiness and joy. The Dali Lama
Dear Ones, I love this quote by the Dali Lama because it connects our experience of happiness and joy to the development of inner peace rather than acquisitions, achievements or advancements. Most of us equate happiness with getting something we want in or from the external world such as; the right partner, a new home, a new car, a promotion at work or a bunch of money. Or, getting rid of something we no longer want such as; the wrong partner, debt and mortgage, a job that isn’t satisfying even though it is giving us a big pay check. But, the older I get, the more I realize that happiness is an inside job!
I’ve been doing a minimum of an hour a day of meditation for some time now. Some days my mind is relatively calm and peaceful, with thoughts simply emerging and passing by, and other times it’s like wild stallions demanding my attention and compelling me to jump on their backs and go on an endless ride of worry, fear, self doubt, judgements, what if’s and could be’s… But as the hours and days of meditation unfold and I stay present, without grasping, resisting, adding to my thoughts, just coming back to my breath, body and sensations, I discover a natural sense of peace and happiness arising from the stillness...
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony Mahatma Gandhi
My teacher of many years, Gabrielle Roth, used to describe people as trizophrenics, “they think one thing, feel another and act in a third completely different way.” Her antidote to escape from this prison of fragmentation and find congruence and harmony was to consciously dance, to move the body with awareness. The dancing path has been my meditation for over 40 years, but having extended my sitting meditation, I find myself reaching new plateaus of spacious awareness and embodied peace of mind. Movement takes me more deeply into a happiness that I believe can only come from a deep exploration and acceptance of our infinite interiority. True stillness is not still, it is attuning to the rhythm and pulse of life and moving with rather than against the natural flow.
It isn’t what we have, do, or where we are or who we are with that makes us happy. It’s what we think. The problem is we think our thoughts have something to do with reality. Thoughts are triggered responses to unwitting reminders of something from the past, and usually have little to do with what’s happening in the moment. What most people call thinking is simply having thoughts, and we have the power to transform our thoughts!
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts Marcus Aurelius
So how do we change the nature and quality of our thoughts? By not resisting, ignoring or pushing them away, but embracing and allowing them. The other day I was walking along the beach here on the Coast and there was a woman with a small baby. I had this thought, “I should throw the baby in the ocean.” WHAT??? OMG! Where did that come from? Who knows, maybe from a past life... Obviously, I didn’t do it! It’s like my friend Linda says, “Now that’s a thought that’s not going to happen!” We act as though our thoughts have something to do with reality. That’s called being psychotic or delusional, and we do it every day.
Our thoughts are a reflection of our story, or identity, which is a product of personal, familial, cultural and ancestral heritage, in other words, the past. With every thought there is a momentary gap between the stimulus and response where we have a choice as to whether we act from that thought, respond to it’s message, or choose a reaction that is more in alignment with the moment. It would be far more powerful to choose from a vision of what could be, thereby calling forth a new world of possibility. Our words and thoughts are what create our world, not our circumstances and past based mental triggers.
When you bring love to whatever your beliefs are, you create a space for yourjudgements to leave, and when judgements leave, you create room for possibility Kyle Cease
Happiness doesn’t come from chasing or pursuing it. It’s comes from loving all the thoughts, judgements, and stories that arise - the good, the bad and the ugly - it comes from completely surrendering to what is, and what isn’t. This allows something entirely beyond the limits of our stories and beliefs to emerge… We invite you to work with your journal this month and take some time to write down some of the disempowering thoughts that you are having. Then see if you can accept those thoughts simply as thoughts, without adding meaning, judgement or action to them. Just loving that you have the capacity to not only think, but to replace and transform your negative thoughts into new possibilities and actions. You do have a say in the matter and can choose the thoughts that you want to live from and into...
Meriel and I will be joining you in this practice and would love to hear from you as you discover what new experiences of happiness, joy and power arise out of allowing yourself to accept and embrace your thoughts without adding meaning, action or more story. This creates rich fertile soil to plant new seeds of possibility in your life and the world. We look forward to hearing from you.
With Love and Gratitude, Michael & Meriel
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free Thich Nhat Hanh