If I told you there’s a three-week or a three-year plan to achieving lifelong happiness, peace, and fulfillment, is your mind tempted to listen and read on?
The mind loves to operate in terms of the “future” and on a “time-frame”. It always is looking for ways to achieve something better than the current state. It may repeat an inner mantra of “I am not good enough yet, there is more I should be doing” “there are more things I need in order to be happy”.
I know my mind tells me this a lot and it overwhelms me. I think I “should” be doing more when in reality I need to focus on what is going to truly support me in this moment of my life. The mind can tend to create thoughts that in the future everything will get better than it is right now. That happiness will be achieved because… “I will be retired,” “I will be fit,” “I will have enough money”. This belief is an illusion.
I often struggle with these same thoughts about the future being better, and when I catch myself I rephrase the thought….“it will be different”. There is no reason why we can not be at peace and feel fulfilled every day, every moment, starting now, even if it is for just a brief moment. The answer to freeing oneself from thousands of years of human conditioning does not require you to work hard to spend lots of TIME or MONEY bettering yourself. The answer is simple and includes learning to be present. In this moment you can move away from your thoughts and welcome a sense of presence. You are here to be Here, not There, so I challenge you to practice being Here.
- Close your eyes
- Take five deep breaths sighing all the air out on each exhale
- Take this moment to be right here
- Be Here Now
This is where mindfulness comes in. Since mindfulness is not the brain’s default mode we must exercise our Mindfulness Muscles.
Just as you walk your dog, go to the gym, eat and drink water, you can practice mindfulness in your daily life. Don’t do it because you “should”, practice for the benefit that it brings to your own life and the ripple effect it has on others.
Mindfulness practice has brought me a greater sense of patience, compassion, empathy, faith, clarity, and curiosity. My mindfulness practice has strengthened my ability to catch myself in a moment of reaction before I say/do something that may cause harm or I may regret.
This week I challenge you to dedicate 5 minutes to just being with yourself, just as you are, being still, being present. Use your breath as a focal point or use a guided meditation. Set an attainable goal for yourself to practice. If you can do all 7 days this week great, if you can commit to practice 2 days this week that is equally as great!
As you practice… your mind will wander, this is natural. Simply bring it back to the breath and observe your thoughts float by without attaching to them or pushing them away. Return again and again to the sensations of the breath and allow these reputations to build your mindfulness muscle.
Most people give up on meditation because they “can’t stop thinking” “can’t stop thoughts from popping up”, but this is a part of the practice. This is how you exercise your mindful muscles. You constantly bring your attention back to the present moment (breath or sounds). It is like you are flexing your muscles in the moment each time you catch yourself from falling down into the rabbit hole of thoughts.
As you practice mindfulness meditation, you practice with kindness and care. This way of being PRESENT with your breath, your body, this moment will also be a way of cultivating self-compassion. What a beautiful combo! If you would like further resources or want to talk about different types of practices (there’s more than just sitting meditation) We are here for you!
Lizzie Shutt and the Sacred Treehouse faculty!
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida. She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement. When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.