Since we often operate in a bouncy ball game of craving for something else, whether it's a future event, tasty meal, arrival of something, etc., we get lost out of observing what is and we move into an imaginary state of "what will be" and this often comes with expectations and attachment so that when the imaginary expected moment comes, we are not with it just as it is but rather as a comparative moment from the past imagination of what it was to be.
Further, when we are not craving for the future moment, we may find ourselves in a moment of aversion; a moment that feels unpleasant so we may feel that urge to escape as soon as possible. Again, the moment is not spent on observing the present time experience but rather it's spent on the escape plan. The mind has many avenues of escape; you can check out with a daydream, escape to future thoughts of an external stress reliever of food, drink, etc. You can also escape physically by finding a way to get up and walk away from the moment. Either way, what I've learned is that you can be in any moment and be with it just as it is, even if you are labeling it as unpleasant. Try on this for size, the next time you find yourself in an unpleasant situation, see if you can detach yourself from it and simply observe your thoughts about it. Just notice how you are breathing, how your body is feeling and what types of thoughts are happening for you. Challenge yourself just to be with it before you decide to physically or mentally find an escape route. Just like in a yoga class, you may have poses that don’t feel as good, but if you can ask your mind and body just to settle into it, the struggle and fight lifts and you realize the many great benefits to surrendering and letting go to the moment just as it is presented to you.
The realization comes from accepting that we have so much influence over how the moment feels and goes. For example, when we experience something unpleasant, our mind and body can start to react with negativity, thus further attaching to the negativity of the moment and this can make the observed unpleasantry work double time because now we are associating with it and attaching to it like a bunch of negativity magnets piling up on each other. If you can stay in a more objective place and just notice, it can keep the bunches of negativity magnets at bay and this will allow for a more timely passing of this unpleasant moment. Patience is your friend with this practice, since patience does not involve a reaction; it simply sits and observes without expectations of time.
Similarly, we have to be aware of those pleasant moments that we want to last and last and last. Those joyous, happy, loving moments that feel oh sooo good. When we become attached to those pleasant sensations, we also create a certain game of craving for those moments and we can feel a sense of loss when they are not there. This holding onto those moments can create cravings for more and more of it, which can lead you on a dangerous lovable moments chase, which again can easily lead you out of the present moment.
Again, the idea is to be with what is as much as possible. Just start by observing how much time you spend thinking of the past or planning for the future. Just observe it and see if you can practice coming back to what is happening now. Of course, we all have jobs and things we need to plan for, but see if you can leave those to designated times instead of whenever it seems to pop up. Observe what it feels like in your mind, body and/or spirit when unpleasant moments arise and see if you can sit with it just as it is without moving away from it and without reaching for something external to soothe it. Again, patience here is your friend :-).
This takes a consistent practice; a truly diligent and strong effort, but believe me, it's worth it! You will start to experience a more even balanced way of living, where the roller coaster of life will not take you on a bumpy ride since you will be able to detach more from the ups and downs and just observe it all calmly and with deeper sense of appreciation. It will allows for more love and compassion to enter into your heart and you will have more focused energy so you can serve others from your highest ways of being.
If you want to find out more about Vipassana mediation, visit their site here: http://www.mahavana.dhamma.org
If you want to learn how to practice a more balanced mindful life, send me an email and we can set up a time to sit and have a session.
Liz Myers, MA
Founder, Rooted Living Wellness.
Liz Myers, MA, RYT200
Spiritual Life Coach, Yoga and Meditation Teacher.
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