Have you ever heard the phrase “Live in the moment”? Our lives unfold moment by moment. Everything we have ever experienced, and everything we ever will experience, happens in a single moment of time. So really the only problem we have to deal with in life is how to deal with the moment in time you are experiencing right now. We are constantly worrying about the future, planning our lives out, trying to solve problems for our entire lives. But the reality is that our contact with life is happening in this moment right now. Thinking about action in the present is not only useful, but leads us to actually attaining our myriad goals. We cannot deal with past events, nor do our imaginary thoughts of our so-called futures have any validity today. Whatever happens in the future can be considered when those moments arise. Your quality of life will always be determined by how you deal with the moment you are living right now. We humans are mammoth thinkers. We never stop thinking, analyzing. “I like that; I don’t like that, accepting some things and rejecting others. But are our thoughts based on reality, or are they really just products of our imaginations? If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit it’s almost always the latter. As a famous song by the Rolling Stones says “Just my imagination, running away with me…” Our imaginations then create our beliefs. Most of the thoughts we have are actually interactions with what we believe, rather than the actual world itself. It’s what we expect from the world, or what we find interest in. It’s hard to actual perceive something objectively. We see things through our own “eyes”, meaning our beliefs, so much of these perceptions are our imaginations, how we feel about something. Our perceptions are often quite different from others’ perceptions, too. You may think it’s cold, but that same temperature may be warm for me. Hearing a particular song may bring thoughts of happiness to my mind, yet that same song may bring depressing thoughts to another person. Everything in this world is relative. Therefore life is subjective. It’s all happening in our minds. So how do we come to have more clarity of perception in our minds? Learning the art of mindfulness is the answer. The world brings all of us to our knees at some time or another. That’s just the way it is. Sometimes we enjoy, and sometimes we suffer. It seems that we suffer more than we enjoy sometimes, or that the enjoyments are only a brief respite from the suffering. It doesn’t mean that something is inherently wrong with you as a person, but it is this perceived need to escape from the present moment or somehow change it that drives us to despair. Everyone experiences suffering in life, but to what degree is up to us. Remember, it’s all in the mind, so learning the process of harnessing your mind means you will yourself to constructive action. Bad things happen. We can’t dwell on them forever. When we take responsibility for how we react to what happens, we can then act in ways (both within the mind and externally) to release the feelings of suffering. Please stop and contemplate this for a moment. It’s all about what you feel that makes you evaluate every situation as good, bad, happy, sad, etc, etc. When you learn the art of mindfulness, the initial cause and solution for every problem in life begins and ends in the mind. We are all controlled by our emotions and our beliefs. We are very much emotional beings, are we not? Our emotions can drive us to the most charitable and loving kinds of actions, as well as the most destructive and evil kinds of actions imaginable. But what are the basis of our emotions, and our beliefs? We have decided in our minds that something is so. Others may feel the complete opposite from us, but we stick steadfastly to these emotions and beliefs as truth. So our emotions and beliefs may make us narrow-minded, or limit our ability to grow, ultimately preventing a gain of actual wisdom in life. Our so-called objectivity in life is actually our subjective experience of it. Each life event we have is experienced through our personal viewpoints, and our emotions can easily make us biased, thereby curtailing our ability to ascertain truth. It’s no different than when as a child asking your mother, “but why…?” and hearing her retort, “Because I said so!” Eventually we all must hope to come to the stage of trusting our personal experiences, that by harnessing the uncontrolled mind that drags us through endless difficult emotions, trials and tribulations, we can actually perceive the truth of ourselves. You are the captain of your own ship in life and must learn to make the decisions that keep you safe and able to navigate the waves on the ocean of life. Objectivity is subjective and subjectivity is what real life is. We all experience the world a little differently. Our objective rationalizations are how we attempt to explain all that we are experiencing in life. As no two persons experience things exactly the same way, we need not take on board everyone else’s “objective” truths, not about the world nor of ourselves. This must also be true in the search for spirituality. We are spiritual beings inhabiting a material body, but we seem to be in ignorance of our inner identities, and the ultimate goals of human existence beyond this world of temporary enjoyment and suffering. Therefore without becoming some semblance of a living philosopher we will never learn to separate our thoughts, feelings and emotions to allow ourselves to experience something beyond this mundane world. Drug addicts and alcoholics that have sunk to the depths of destroying their lives, and often causing great suffering to those around them, came to a point of despair with their perceptions of themselves and of life itself. If just being religious works for you, without truly knowing much about the religious philosophy itself, fine. It’s far better to hold a belief of finding heaven after this life than to surrender to a life of addiction hell while we’re here, but judging from statistics it’s not a panacea for most people in this day and age. So how can we develop mindfulness and equanimity, leading us to a state of consciousness where we have true clarity of perception? That will be the subject of tomorrow’s blog. Howard Beckman Author of Tempting The Devil In The Name Of God…The Heavy Hand of Fate
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