December 16, 2013

Our Biggest Roadblock to Mindful Living? ~ Melli O’Brien

Warning: naughty language ahead!

Do we want to be productive consumers, “just putting one foot in front of the other” or do we want to be conscious—I mean really fucking alive, drinking in the miraculousness of life here and now?

Yeah, easy choice right?!

Or is it?

Which choice are most of us making every day?

You know what tends to get in the way of mindful living? This whole pain-in-the-butt “I need something more” belief. You know the one right?

The one where we keep dreaming, “I’ll be happy one day when…” The one that keeps us striving and struggling our way through our days looking for the next thing and the next, hoping that this next thing we’re straining at will finally fill us up.

This belief dowses the flame of mindfulness and drowns out the full technicolor 3D aliveness of life and flattens it into a 2D humdrum “just gettin’ by” experience.

I’ve heard every version of this pesky belief (and said a lot of them to myself too).

Do any of these sound familiar?

When I get this car, this holiday, this job or this achievement, maybe that will finally make me happy and whole inside.

When I lose weight, achieve my potential, when I find the right person (which then often becomes when I get rid of this person), when I have kids (which then becomes when the kids leave home), when I retire—then finally I can relax and be at peace and find wholeness.

What’s your own story of “I need something more?”

This unconscious belief is a doozy. It keeps us looking for fulfillment in the 2 places it can never be found. Outside ourselves and in the future.

It’s a game we can never win. Why? Because it is the exact opposite of the truth.

Happiness can only ever be found in the here and the now and it arises from within.

This is the essential message of all wisdom traditions, its what all their parables, preaching and practices are all about. It’s what mindful living is all about. It’s all about the outrageously exquisite discovery that everything you’ve ever wanted is right under your nose.

So the invitation is this—stop seeking.

I’m not saying stop doing and creating and enjoying life. I’m saying this—realize deeply that doing things and getting things and having things does not bring us lasting fulfillment, peace and joy.

Things can’t fill us up or make us feel whole. It’s a simple sobering truth.

So, if what we really want is lasting fulfillment, peace and joy then we must drop the mental habit of seeking.

Do this by recognizing those “something more” beliefs when they arise and recognize them for what they are—just thoughts. Not reality. Not the truth. Not something we have to play out. Not something that has to make our life into a stressful series of tasks we must get done.

Each time we discover that belief arising we can smile at it, drop it, then take three deep slow conscious breaths, returning our awareness to the present moment and the magnificent miracle of life unfolding right in front of our eyes.

In returning to ourselves and our lives in this way, we can make the discovery that all the beauty, all the love and all the peace we ever wanted was here all along, if we’d only open our eyes to see it.


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Assistant Editor: Holly Horne / Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Sander van der Wel, Flickr

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