If I told you there’s a three-week or three-year plan to achieving lifelong happiness, peace, and fulfillment is your mind tempted to hear this plan and read on? If so, I bet the 3 week one is your preferred option.
The mind loves to operate in terms of the “future” and on a “time-frame”. It is always looking for ways to achieve something better than the current state. The mind can churn with thoughts of “I am not good enough yet, there is more I should be doing” or “there are more things I need in order to be happy”.
I know my mind tells me this a lot and there are times I get caught in the trap and the feelings of frustration or discontent take over…. I think I “should” be doing more when in reality I need to just focus on what is going to support me in this moment of my life. At times I often need to do LESS! The mind lenas into the future, thinking everything will get better than it is right now. The Someday Isle….that Happiness will be achieved because… “I will be retired” “I will be fit” “I will have enough money”. This belief is just an illusion.
I struggle with these same thoughts about the future and when I catch myself I try to reframe to “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 just a brief moment out of Twenty four hours.
The answer to freeing oneself from thousands of years of human experience and conditioning does not require you to work hard to spend lots of time and energy bettering yourself. The simple truth is that it requires us to be present. In this moment you can move away from your thoughts of past and future and welcome a sense of presence. You are here to be Here, not There, so I challenge you to practice” Being Here Now”.
Close your eyes.
Take five deep breaths…. sighing all the air out on the exhale.
Take this moment for yourself.
To just be present.
Be Here Now.
Mindfulness is not the brain’s default mode, yet with practice, we can exercise our Mindfulness Muscles, and change mindfulness from a state to a trait. Over time it becomes a more natural way we move about in the world rather than a state we enter once or twice a week. Perhaps as you hit the pause button and did the above practice you felt a deeper sense of presence or maybe the opposite, perhaps a tug of war in the mind. Just with anything that is worthwhile, it takes practice, patience, and nonjudgment.
Just as you walk your dog, exercise,, eat and drink water, you can practice mindfulness in your daily life. You don’t do it because you “should”, you practice for the good that it brings to your own life and the ripple effect it has on others.
Mindfulness 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 or do something that is not aligned with my values or truth.
This week I encourage you to dedicate 5 minutes to just being present with yourself, sitting, standing, or walking slowly. Use your breath as a focus point or put on a guided meditation. Set an attainable goal for yourself to practice. If you can do all 7 days this week great, just start where you are and notice the cumulative effect of a daily mindfulness break.
As you practice your mind will inevitably wander, this is natural. Simply bring it back to the breath and observe your thoughts float by without getting caught in the content.
Most people give up meditation because they “can’t stop thinking” or “can’t stop thoughts from popping up”, but this is part of the practice. This is how you exercise your mindful muscles. You consistently catch the mind wandering and bring your attention back to the present moment, a more neutral object of attention, like the breath, sounds, or scanning the sensations in the body.. It is like you are flexing your muscles in that very moment you catch yourself from going down the rabbit hole of automatic thoughts.
It helps to practice in community and reinforce your practice with supportive readings and inspiration. I recently attended Piero’s Mindfulness and Happiness workshop that watered the seeds of mindfulness and shined a BRIGHT light on the here and now (and that is some great feat these days) and how I can take charge of creating a happier, more fulfilled, and meaningful life.
Go to Sacred Treehouse and sign up for the next Mindfulness and Happiness class.
With love and gratitude,
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. Lizzie is a student of life and is dedicated to helping others reach a greater state of wellbeing, both inside and out.