What’s the big unattainable goal so many people are striving for?
Be happy…all the time.
I recently attended a 10-day silent Vipassana Meditation Retreat. The days consisted of a repetitive cycle of nothing more than…sleep, eat, walk, meditate.
Sounds tough, right? And it was.
All you had to keep you company were your thoughts.
When I told friends I was going to do it, they said “I couldn’t be alone with just my thoughts for 10 days…sounds way too scary”!
So, why did I do it?
I was looking to stretch myself and grow…I was asking myself “Could I really do it?”
“Will this help me be happier and more fulfilled?”
“Will I be able to make a more positive impact on those around me?”
Leading up to it, I chose not to focus on it too much, I just knew that I was going to do it…no if’s, but’s or maybe’s.
The first day I was ok…until the evening meditation session when the voice in my head started…
“What have you got yourself into?!?”
“Why are you doing this to yourself?”
“You’re not ready for this…you can just come back next year.”
And the voice in my head continued to try and talk me out of it.
I thought to myself…”Oh, this is going to be a bumpy ride!”
Well…I made it through the 10 days and came out the other side…I like to think, a little wiser.
I learned a lot over the 10 days…
Obviously, I learned about meditation and a lot about myself…I also learned that there is only so much rice I can handle!
One of the most important lessons was…be willing to feel all the feelings.
I came to realise that even though I had heard this before and I knew conceptually to ‘feel the feelings’…I wasn’t applying it to my life as well as I thought.
What does ‘feel all the feelings’ mean? It means…trying not to avoid feelings and also trying not to crave feelings.
So, trying not to avoid feelings that are uncomfortable and can feel painful or unhappy.
But just as importantly, trying not to crave feelings, feelings that cause happiness, elation or joy.
The goal is not to avoid or crave any particular feeling. The goal is to be ok with feeling any and all feelings that arise in you.
The key is simple…be able to sit with whatever feeling comes up and don’t try to get rid of it or try to get more of it.
If you constantly avoid or crave feelings…this reinforces the same patterns of thinking and behaviour that has resulted in any imbalance in your life and this repetition makes it harder to change.
I’ve heard this concept before…but it wasn’t until day 8 of the retreat that I realized I wasn’t really living that way. I became acutely aware that I was trying to avoid certain feelings.
So, I’m working on sitting with whatever feeling comes up, observing it without adding any emotion to it. Easier said than done…but the results are coming day by day.
I encourage you to become more self-aware of your feelings when they arise. Then, be willing to sit with them and be ok with whatever is coming up for you. When you can master this, and learn to manage your emotions…then and only then will you truly be free.