So much of the suffering we experience in our lives comes from our own selves, from our own thoughts, from our own thinking, from our minds.
We can get lost in thought and carried away with ideas and stories we tell ourselves in our heads.
We have unconscious beliefs and patterns and tendencies that shape how we view and relate to the world.
Here are three illusions we cling to that cause us suffering:
We long for permanence, stability, for things to endure. We want what we know, what we like, to continue. We avoid thinking about death. We resist loss. There’s a part of us that wants to grasp, hold on, cling to what we know—especially to what feels good, to what we like, to what we love. We want what we love to go on, to continue.
But everything is impermanent, and things are always changing.
If we really reflect on this, we’ll see the truth in it.
There are people who used to be my closest friends who I no longer talk to. There are people I’ve loved who are no longer in my life. There are places I’ve lived that I didn’t think I’d leave, that I left. There are things I used to believe that I no longer resonate with—things I can no longer relate to. There are things I used to do that I no longer do, things that no longer feel like me.
Things are always changing; we’re always changing. We can’t grasp or hold onto anything. We can’t make anything last forever, even if we’d like to.
This is why it’s so important to be in the moment, to be fully present in our moments. The current moment is the only one we will ever truly feel, the only one we’ll taste, the only one we’ll breathe in. It’s the only one that’s vibrant and alive and fully here.
When we go out for a walk, we feel the wind on our face or our fingers, feel our feet moving across the earth, see the trees and the sky and the birds and the world around us. After we’re done, when we’re back inside, all we have is a memory of the cool air on our skin, a fuzzy image of what we saw when we’d been outside.
The only moment we ever truly have is this one right now.
Many of us cling to control. We want things to go the way we want them to go. Feeling like we’re in control gives us some sense of safety, of security, of permanence.
But we can’t make everything go the way we want it to all of the time. We can’t control every nuance of every situation.
When we learn to ungrasp our fingers, to stop clinging, we soften. We feel the tension ease. This can be a process, a practice, an intention we hold within ourselves. We can watch the parts that want to control and learn from them, soften around them, hold space for them as we continue to release our grip.
When we do this, release our grip, we realize that we can intentionally and intuitively figure out how to navigate each moment, in each moment. We can learn to embrace what is rather than try to force what some part of our mind thinks should be.
We may not be able to control everything in life, but we can choose what to do in each moment. We can align with what feels right and true and move intentionally from our present moment space.
We can choose how we act and react. We can intentionally move with life while it’s unfolding. We can intentionally shift thoughts and expand our perspective. We can turn inward and learn and discover and become aware.
We can have goals and dreams and plans and also allow life to unfold around us and through us, holding our visions lightly, allowing ourselves to shift intuitively with life as it unfolds.
3. “If only…then.”
It’s so easy for us to think, “If only I have this…then I’ll feel happy.” We think if we reach a certain milestone, or learn a certain thing, or have a certain job, or have a particular person in our lives, or have a certain amount of success, or have our lives look a certain way, then everything will be okay. Then we’ll finally be totally happy or content or peaceful or at ease.
But the truth is that this way of thinking is an illusion. There is no ideal moment in the future when everything will be just as we like it, a moment when everything is perfect and will always remain that way.
And if this is our pattern of thinking, it will only continue in the future. If we reach a milestone, there will just be another one we’ll want to meet. There will always be something our minds want or long for, something we want to experience or feel or do.
We can allow the mind to think and dream and imagine, while remaining grounded in our present space. We can understand the illusory thinking patterns of the mind and expand our awareness and come back to the fullness of the present moment.
If we look at the last two points, we can see that they’re really, in some way, part of the first—seeking permanence.
The only moment that we really have is the present moment, the one we’re in right now.
The more we reflect on this, the more we’ll understand the truth of it.