We live in a time of material frenzy and obsession. We are continuously bombarded with adverts of things we “need” to make us better, happier, thinner, more successful or more attractive.
Every day, the media tell us we are not happy and not enough. They tell us we need product X in our life—it’s the missing piece to a happier and much better you. And most of us, we buy into this never-ending cycle of wanting and craving.
The solution, we are told, has a price tag and a location.
But does it?
How many of us have found ourselves miserable on a beautiful beach? How long did those shoes really make us happy? Did they ever? Or was the magic lost the moment we handed over our credit card?
We cannot be blamed for thinking that the solution lies outside ourselves; we are told that it does every day. But if this were really the case, wouldn’t we all be happier? We live in a time when depression is on the rise. It would seem that the more we have, the less we have.
In the purchasing circus of today’s “modern” society, we have lost simplicity—and we have lost ourselves.
External fixes are transient and fleeting; the highs are quickly followed by the lows in our fruitless search for contentment. The craving can never be satisfied. The advertisers know this. Why else are new products released every week?
So we find ourselves in the perceptual cycle of craving and dissatisfaction—dissatisfaction, the very thing we are trying to avoid. The irony.
If only we knew that the solution was ourselves. Equanimity: “a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.” It is our reaction to our feelings, our cravings, our circumstances that is the key to our peace of mind.
For most of us, our mind is like an untamed beast and we are at its mercy. One negative thought inevitably leads to another, and before we know it, the mind has taken us on a dark and painful journey.
But what if we took back control?
Control can be found in acceptance. Have you ever noticed that when you accept pain or accept the cold or accept your anger that the sensation instantly loses its grip? Through the acceptance we find detachment, and we suddenly find ourselves free from the pain.
What if we accept our thoughts? Accept that they are there, but don’t attach ourselves to them. Instead observe the thoughts as if they were being played on a show reel in our mind’s eye—allowing them to pass through our mind as quickly as they entered.
If we practice this acceptance and detachment, then we are practicing equanimity.
When we are detached, we are freed from suffering. When we are detached, we are freed from craving and desire, and so in this detachment we can find some peace.
A new handbag cannot frighten away our demons, at least not for long; sadness can still find you on a beach. Our demons, after all, live within us, and they go wherever we go.
The transformation has to come from within.
It requires some discipline, a lot of practice and ultimately the decision to take control of our mind. It is only when we quiet the mind that we open ourselves to inspiration, intuition, wisdom, clarity and awareness.
By connecting with these greater truths we are guided to a path of meaning and contentment. And while we will inevitably find bumps and will probably lose our way on more than one occasion, we can trust that we are walking in the right direction. The glimmers of unobstructed joy and gratitude—a joy that moves us to our core, a joy that is priceless and complete—reminds us that we are.
The path is there. We just have to learn to quiet the noise so that we can see it.
Author: Rebecca Leakey
Editor: Toby Israel
Image: Julian Böck/Unsplash