How Mindfulness Deepens Our Fulfilment
What’s the most important thing to you in this lifetime?
No matter how many events we run around Australia and how many times we ask this question - the same answer is continuously repeated, by parents, teachers, students, businesses and everyday people. Deep down, we all just want to feel content.
We might choose to use different words like happiness, family, having an impact, travel or freedom, and they’re definitely not wrong. But if you sit back for a second and take a few big belly breaths, begin to notice the feeling that lies underneath that which is important to you. It’s that ‘post Christmas lunch’ or ‘cold glass of water on a hot day’ or that ‘freshly cut grass’ kinda vibe that makes you feel all kinds of yum on the inside - except it has nothing to do with anything external. It’s because those things that are important to us take us to a place of complete presence. Translation - our minds are simply still. And that, ladies and gents, plainly speaking, is contentment.
Before you ask, no, contentment and settling are not the same. Settling is a shrinking back away from life and adjusting our outer world so it’s not uncomfortable to our inner ego. For example, not speaking up when you want to because you’d rather keep the peace by stay silent. Or remaining in a relationship far past it’s expiration date because your fear is that you’d rather settle here than face the thought of loneliness. And note, I said ‘thought’ there.
The truth is, we are actually afraid of the idea of pain or discomfort, rather than the discomfort itself. We are constantly living based on what we think will be too much for us to feel. Crazy, eh? We live misaligned lives because of a thought in our head about the chance that something might feel a bit rough for some time and that we can’t come out of that roughness feeling alive. Have you ever been through an experience that was incredibly challenging emotionally and came out stronger? Yes, of course you have. Because it’s our minds desire for comfort over inner contentment that is what really creates the suffering.
True fulfilling contentment is when we feel full from the inside. So regardless of how we look, what our grades or social status is, how many like or followers we have or if we are more organised and efficient than everyone else, we still feel full on the inside.
Meditation is the practice of sitting back from the stories in the mind and the emotions in our body and taking a break from engaging with them. It’s the practice of focusing on no-thing.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the mind’s attention fully on what is in front of us and being with it without letting the mind go into chit-chat about it. Both sound simple - but when was the last time you looked at a tree without thinking about it’s height, shape, size, colour, location, type etc, let alone another human being. When was the last time your mind was totally clear and you could see your thoughts floating in and out and observe your body and feelings without identifying with any of it? Right. It’s an easy concept but difficult to hold that attention for more than a moment or two.
In saying this, a moment of contentment each day is better than a life of constant and unconscious discontentment. That desire for “more” is a human thing. The habit of spotting the “negatives” is a primitive survival tool to ensure we are scanning for potential threats. A mind unmonitored or unfocused is a busy one. A busy mind equals suffering, either a little or a lot, period. A calm mind, cultivated through a daily practice of meditation and mindfulness builds contentment because it literally re-wires the neural pathways in our brain and nervous system, extending the times between stimulus (external happenings and internal thoughts, emotions and interpretations) and response.
Viktor Frankl, who wrote Man’s Search For Meaning said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
When we have space between our engagement with the thoughts going through the mind and space between the world and it’s people and our automated opinion about it, we have access to a deep contentment. When you have that, freedom and happiness are independent of your life circumstances. Now that, ladies and gents, is why Calm Mind Project exists.