BLOG: Why does being human complicate happiness?

29 May 2019

Our human experience is simple, and yet it’s excruciatingly complex.

We have opposing forces within us, and that’s the core of the battle. On one side, the mind has this natural tendency of using it’s sense of self and it’s single focus is on recreating that sense of “me”, that pulls us towards pleasure and away from pain. On the other side, an inexplicable presence, something more conscious than the human mind’s primitive forces of survival, is trying to get us to meet ourselves right here, and all the time working against the push and pull of the mind.

Most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search. I truly believe we mistake the innate pull into ourselves for a fleeting feeling. This is why we believe we will find what we are all searching for outside of ourselves. We know how good pleasure feels, and that something deeper is calling us towards ourselves, but we get distracted and stimulated and we lose our way into an ice cream container, a financial gain, a physique mirrored in magazines, a bottle of wine, a curious state altering substance or more promising, the arms of another human being.

We are looking for ourselves but instead filling up from the outside. I know it’s deep, but truly, if we can acknowledge this, if we know what we are working with, if we know what we are really looking for, and why we get off track and what the meaning of the pain, the stress, the anxiety and the fear all mean, and what to do with them, we can then suffer less. We can stop getting caught up in our own stories, we can stop striving for perfection of our bodies, our jobs, our cars, our relationships, our parenting skills and how our lives look to everyone or the expectations of that “I” between our ears.

What we want is lasting fulfilment but forget that we are in a world where you cannot capture nor hold onto a moment. In order to find everlasting contentment, we need to connect with something that never dies. The quickest way to identify if your mind wants it or your soul wants it is to ask, “will this last” or “will it bring me closer to myself”. If the answer is yes, it’s your soul, and if the answer is no, it’s your head.

Our mind will always have a very good story as to why we need what we need, why we want what we want, and our entitlement towards it. It will especially be great at criticising itself and highlighting dissatisfaction, thus able to secure our attention back on looking outside ourselves again, so we remain distracted and dissatisfied.

Acknowledging that this is the structure of the game we are playing allows us to play it differently.

After all these years, if I have learnt anything about life, our experience of it and our current state of feelings about it, including ourselves, it has nothing to do with what we see, touch, taste, physically hold or hear. It’s certainly not about what happened, is happening or what might happen.

The exact position of where our attention lands in each moment determines the experience of it and thus determines the quality of our life itself. Gurus, spiritual philosophers and muses have blasted this for centuries and now, science and research can prove it.

This is why some people are completely at ease in times of stress or challenge, while others find something to be upset about or complain about despite having privilege and opportunity above most of the planet. I am not suggesting that external situations aren’t of importance or should be ignored. All I am saying is that the mind is the basis of everything we experience.

Given this fact, it makes sense to train it.

This is why I created Calm Mind Project, and it’s also what I will be touching on during the RISE Mindful Parenting workshop this Wednesday (secure your free tickets here).

Our minds are really, truly, all that we have and all that we have ever had that we can use to navigate this paradox with more flow. And no, that doesn’t mean zero discomfort, it means the ability to face it, front on, open, with humility, non judgment, kindness and compassion to self, honouring our truth. That means every emotion, every thought, every circumstance, every person and every idea of who we believe we are, is met this way.

Every experience we have had, have and will have is shaped by the mind. It’s nature, it’s contents and most of all your awareness of it’s behaviours and ability to focus and command it’s direction.

So what can we do to shape the mind, so not to avoid pain, but so that pain itself becomes really, just an idea of which we know our mind creates, and thus we flow instead of force, lean in instead of pull back, laugh instead of ruminate, and breathe instead of tense?

A few ways begin simply with basic meditation, which I’ll give an example of below.

The magic of the mind doesn’t bypass science and the study of neuroplasticity has given us insight into the power of simple practices that we can implement and use to take advantage of the mind’s ability to physically and neurologically reshape and therefore transform how we experience and process the world around us.

At Calm Mind Project we have an acronym; GIEK, that are all supported by scientific studies and research outlines. Each of these expands into philosophy, techniques and practices for daily life that build mental strength, emotional resilience and inspiration for life itself.

Gratitude
Intention
Empathy
Kindness

How to meditate From Sam Harris Waking Up:

  1. Sit comfortably with your spine erect, either in a chair or cross-legged on a cushion.
  2. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel the points of contact between your body and the chair or the floor. Notice the sensations associated with sitting—feelings of pressure, warmth, tingling, vibration, etc.
  3. Gradually become aware of the process of breathing. Pay attention to wherever you feel the breath most distinctly—either at your nostrils or in the rising and falling of your abdomen.
  4. Allow your attention to rest in the mere sensation of breathing. (You don’t have to control your breath. Just let it come and go naturally.)
    Every time your mind wanders in thought, gently return it to the breath.
  5. As you focus on the process of breathing, you will also perceive sounds, bodily sensations, or emotions. Simply observe these phenomena as they appear in consciousness and then return to the breath.
  6. The moment you notice that you have been lost in thought, observe the present thought itself as an object of consciousness. Then return your attention to the breath—or to any sounds or sensations arising in the next moment.
  7. Continue in this way until you can merely witness all objects of consciousness—sights, sounds, sensations, emotions, even thoughts themselves—as they arise, change, and fall away.

There is one infamous line that reveals the necessity of dissolving our attachment to holding onto some kind of sense of constant pleasure, happiness or any emotion at all for that matter. The only constant is change. Our mind wants everything to be controlled so we can feel a constant state of good. Thus we know the fight is not to reshape the outside world to match this futile and unreachable goal, but to reshape our inside world so the experience of life is shaped by the presence and connection we hold somewhere behind and beyond the mind and hopefully maintain it…. even for three seconds, maybe even one day, thirty.

Republished from Amber Hawken

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