One thing that I keep trying to impart to my yoga students is the fact that there is no past and there is no future, there is only this present moment of now. I encourage students to not tell themselves the story that they will achieve happiness as soon as X, Y, and Z conditions are met; happiness happens now, because now is all that we ever have. I also am acutely aware of the mind’s fundamental tendency to be dissatisfied, to want to seek ways of soothing hurt, anger, feelings of not measuring up, and how the mind can easily trick itself into believing that sense pleasures will bring happiness–and so I have a lot of compassion for those who are trying to be present, I have a lot of respect for their efforts, knowing how utterly difficult it can be to establish and maintain this kind of awareness.
It’s actually quite challenging, and at times discouraging, to note my own inability to remain present and attempt to uncover the happiness that is available in the here and now. My intellect can easily grasp the idea of existing in the now, and it can completely comprehend that dwelling in the past or grasping for some imaginary thing in the future cannot give me a sense of lasting peace and happiness, because these temporal illusions distract me from just being present in this moment, which is the only place happiness can blossom. But taking hold of a concept, mulling it over, and creating some kind of clarity around it is profoundly different from absorbing a truth and living it in every cell of one’s being.
As much as I have tried to be aware of the hopeless stories I tell myself, and as much as I have tried to not assign too much weight to them, I still have many ideas of what it would take to make me happy at some point in the future. These ideas are so deeply embedded in my consciousness that they torment me when I’m attempting to meditate, they haunt me when I’m having a particularly hard moment, they infiltrate happy moments and turn them a little sour. How to put a little more distance between myself and the stories, so that I can perhaps detach from them enough to discover my true identity? I’m thinking that if I could write them all down and look at them fearlessly, I would discover that most of these stories are wrapped around the desire to manifest a specific sort of sensory experience. Just becoming aware that I’m getting caught up in these stories is the first step in reclaiming my attention and making myself more available to the here and now.
I could tick off a list of of things that I think would contribute to my happiness, and I’d see that the list is ever expanding, that there is no end to desire. When I start looking at the conditions that I have placed on my happiness, I end up feeling sheepish, a bit embarrassed..how will I ever be free? I’ve been trying so hard for so long. When will I be free?
One that note, I just wanted to know if anyone out there has been able to take a detached look at their desires, to really look them straight in the eye and honestly asses what feelings arise in response to them. Do you tell yourself the same story that you will find happiness someday when ___________________________ happens? The question is, what are you waiting for? What experiences are you waiting to have, what sense objects are you waiting to acquire, before you can let yourself feel happy, contented, peaceful?
Courage! When entering a dark room, bring a headlamp so that you can see. In the light of awareness, all will be transformed.
there is no end to my desires
and so I won’t attempt to list them all.
my body is tired, and I need to sleep.
maybe when I awaken tomorrow
I will feel a renewed sense of courage
and I’ll greet the desires head on,
I won’t give in to their siren song.
For now, though, my desire is sleep,
and I need sleep to be healthy.
I’m going to give in to that desire.