Whenever I'm suffering—depressed, panicked, down on myself, afraid, stressed, sad, dreading, anxious, etc., etc., etc., I find that my mental habits lead me to spirals of thinking that keep me stuck in either the past or the future. In other words—and I have learned this over many, many years and with many, many therapy sessions, spiritual teachings, support groups, meditation sittings, life lessons, and talking with others—the only way to not suffer is to be in the present moment. The nature of our human minds is to think... to be carried away by thoughts and feelings... to cling and be attached to things... to focus on wanting what we don't have and not wanting what we do have... to resist the way things are... to be identified with our minds, our egos, our "little MEs," our views and opinions... to worry about the future... to regret things from the past... to resist the present moment exactly as it is. Why is this our nature? Who knows? But I believe it is. However, we can—if we practice and if we actually really, really, REALLY want to develop mindfulness awareness and presence—learn to first accept our mind's natural tendencies and then learn that we can change our mental habits that we have strengthened for years and years. We have to simply (thought by no means easily), every time we become aware that we are suffering, come back to the present moment. We can learn to do this through meditation, for one thing. This is not to say that we won't feel all of the feelings I mentioned in the first sentence. They will be there. The poem, "The Guest House" by Rumi explains this so well (you can find it in this blog from sometime within the last couple of weeks). We can let all of the feelings be as they are. We can let go of the need for perfection. We can learn to accept ourselves exactly as we are in this very moment... with this mind and this body. We can learn to accept what is. In the moment that we are in. The only place and time that life actually happens is in this moment. Everything else is a thought form.
I feel like I'm leaving out something important. No doubt that I'm leaving out lots of important things. Most importantly, I think, is that lately I need to remind myself that life is in this moment, and if I'm not here for it (by being stuck in past and future thoughts), I'm missing my life. Even during times of sadness, fear, anger, or even pleasant feelings, I can remind myself that I can deal with anything that is happening in this very moment; what I can't do is deal with something in the future or the past because it doesn't exist except in thought form. It also helps me let go of what I can't control (which is almost everything!).
I'm going to go meditate now. By the way, I found a great app called "Insight Timer" that I have on my phone to use for guided meditations (it has TONS of great guided meditations!) as well as just a timer for basic sitting meditation. There are a lot of cool features, and the great thing is that it's free!
May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings enjoy happiness.
May all beings realize that everything they need, they already have.
May all beings experience kindness, love, compassion, and understanding.
May all beings know they are connected to all other life.
May all beings be at peace and at ease.
May all beings learn to live in the present moment.