Take a moment to think about your life and ask yourself whether or not you are happy. Only you know the answer to that question. If you feel like something is missing and you have the energy and the desire to work toward improvement, where do you start?
I wake up every day of my life and ask myself if I’m happy at that moment. Before I open my eyes, I check to see whether or not I’m in a negative headspace. If I am, I take a few deep breaths and I try to frame my life in a positive way before I open my eyes. Over the last ten years of my life, this practice has been of paramount importance to me. But it’s not always easy to do it because sometimes I’m in a rush and I just want to get out of bed and get things done.
Sometimes I wake up and I’m in a negative space for no apparent reason. Maybe I feel resentment towards someone. Maybe I had a bad dream and I saw something that I didn’t like. Maybe I woke up with a pain in my shoulder. Or maybe I have a pressing appointment looming in the middle of the day.
Sometimes for no reason I wake up and I have something in my head creating anxiety before I even open my eyes. It took me a very long time to realize that the decision whether or not I would wake up with a positive attitude was mine.
If I train myself to wake up with a positive attitude, even a positive attitude towards the problems that I’m facing, then I train myself and I get into a pattern. Of course it’s easy to wake up with a positive attitude when things are going my way. But if things shift and become difficult, I can move my mind into a positive space provided that I do what I have trained myself to do.
You are now likely of the age in which you can practice and concentrate on where you put your focus. The first focus that we have to put ourselves in every day is the gratitude that we’re here for another day. If we’re struggling, we have to realize that our very life is a miraculous event.
We must not take our lives for granted. If we do, someday we'll look back, remember all the days that we took for granted, and count them. The worst type of regret is to be older, look back, and say, “Wow, I really struggled and suffered. I really missed out on the beauty of life while it was happening.”
Of course there’s no philosophy that’s going to simply and instantly change your mind. I hope that my words will inspire you and plant a good seed in your consciousness. If so, I hope that you will water it and allow it to grow over time.
To be able to focus on and savor the present, you need to identify your particular mental and emotional struggles and then trace them to their origins. You need to do that so that you can overcome those struggles.
Doing so can be difficult, because the origins of most of our problems began when we were little. We have anxieties that formed and developed in our childhood. We often unconsciously carry them into our adulthood. It’s not often comfortable to bring up the past and contemplate old problems, but we must do so if we want to heal. Complicating this situation is that most of society behaves as if the best option is to tell ourselves that what’s in the past should stay in the past and that thinking about it will not facilitate healing.
Thinking about things that have hurt us in the past for the purpose of healing is very valuable. Doing so is not the same thing as just wandering around in the past with no purpose. Doing that is just wallowing in your misery. Making time each day (perhaps about an hour) to write and talk about things that trouble you will help you release trapped energies and feelings. This is a healing process that we were designed to engage ourselves in. It’s one of the reasons why human beings need other human beings. We need people to talk to about our feelings, our fears, our ideas, and our desires at critical times.
Maybe you thought that you were too good at times in your life to deal with your past problems or to get into some type of recovery practice. Perhaps you thought it was not worth your while to read philosophy, understand Zen, or eat things from weirdo hippie diets. But perhaps it’s not wise of you to “blow off” things that you either don’t understand or are uncomfortable with.
If you consider yourself to be an intelligent and progressive person, then the most logical thing to do is to sit with yourself, dive into your problems, and work them out. There are thousands of different methods to help you do so. But the methods that are the most effective involve practicing breathing exercises and learning meditation.
It usually takes quite some time to learn the practice of meditation and experience its beneficial effects. The practice is especially difficult for those who have distracted minds. And it’s even more difficult and ineffective for those who see no value in it and just practice it because it’s a trend. Make no mistake—it is more than a trend. It is the way of the great elders of all the great tribes that ever were. Every great group of people had meditation of some kind at the center of their society and at the center of its healing methodologies.
We as a modern society have to bring ourselves back to the art and science of meditation. We could come together in separate rooms but united in our way of thinking. We could meditate on the healing of our entire world, particularly in the healing of human beings. This would bring about a shift in consciousness. That shift in consciousness would materialize into healing of the material world wherever such healing was needed.
Perhaps you think the world seems to be in a great place. That may be true in many ways, but there are tremendous problems everywhere. I believe that the top three of a great many are starvation, chronic disease, and warfare. It’s very unsettling to consider that those three things are man-made problems. They are unnatural.
Through meditation, we can heal our own minds. That is the first step in healing our societies. When we practice meditation, we take responsibility for healing the self. We are given a certain amount of time when we are alive to return to a Garden of Eden-like state similar to what we experienced as children.
But now we have great knowledge that we didn’t have when we were childhood. I believe that only when we return to a childlike state of happiness and freedom of emotional expression combined with great wisdom bursting forth from the recesses of our consciousness will we find a Garden of Eden here on this planet.