Contentment and Joy.
I need to go to work, when shall I leave? What time is my alarm set for? Oh, I’m guna need some lunch… there’s nothing in the fridge, okay ill buy some stuff at work but that’s not healthy and I can’t afford it, how can I afford it? I better work more… Should I go to the gym tonight? No, I need to work extra hours… how can I get a raise? shut the fuck up. The malignant mind is a disease which has taken over the vast majority of our population. It doesn’t need to be this way. You can choose to switch of that incessant chatter; using your brain as a problem-solving tool, not a problem creating tool, as and when its required, still function perfectly, going about your day to day, but as a more productive, efficient, loving and peaceful human being. Uh oh he said love and peace, well…
“leaving aside the metaphysics, mythology and sectarian dogma, what contemplatives throughout history have discovered is that there is an alternative to being continuously spellbound by the conversations we are having with ourselves, there is an alternative to simply identifying with the next thought that pops into consciousness”
If that beautiful quote by Sam Harris taken from his book ‘Waking Up’ wasn’t enough and you still find yourself eye rolling at the mention of inner peace there’s not a lot I can do, either your past experiences trump mine or you currently self-identify as the voice in your head – your ego and therefore your mind will do everything possible to disregard, fight and object this concept because shutting off that voice occasionally would be to silence yourself (which may not be a bad thing either).
If this isn’t the case and your life is in fact a true and pure abundance of happiness, completely without flaw then please crack on – who the fuck am I to even suggest otherwise? My best guess however, is that it isn’t and the lurking feeling of discontent isn’t shrinking as much as you try to bury it in money, drugs, sex, alcohol, video games, phones or by whatever other subconsciousness form arises as the driving force that steadies you as you continue ploughing on grudgingly through the mass ball of confusion and unanswered questions which is our fragile existence within the expanding and the unlimited. Mouthful. This needn’t be the case and it is very possibly to feel more content, more connected and more love right now by stopping the incessant compulsive thinking and halting the malignant mind. A process which grows easier and easier with practice, as contrary to popular belief – practice makes permanent (for the better or for the worse).
Just look beyond the dogma and preformed opinions you may have about presence, mindlessness, inner peace or whatever other words you associate as “hippie snowflake” language and hear this out. I’m speaking from first-hand experience as a 20-year-old construction worker from England, whom having recently introduced the concept of disassociating myself from my mind and observing my thoughts have certainly found my life being filled with an ever-growing list of positive changes. Content being the most obvious, followed quickly by the removal of many harmful substances and environments for when you live in the now and you take every moment as it’s own, fighting addiction doesn’t seem so hard as you reconnect – as connection is in fact the opposite of addiction. I’m proof that you don’t need to have lived through the 60s and 70s, smoke weed and stick incense sticks up your bum to put these principles into practice. Not that I’m disregarding any of that or denying my own engagement with incense-stick, marijuana-based foolery but I’ve derived my opinions from well-established sources who’s impacts worldwide are undeniable. Those 535 million practising Buddhist we have on our planet might have just been on to something.
A massive thank you is in order to anyone who took precious time out off their day to read my first article and to anyone reading this now! The comments I received and the support people gave me was incredibly uplifting and the public response made it clear that my efforts weren’t in vain. It was requested that I elaborate on this topic and seeing as it was the first thing I spoke about and many of the ideas I’ve formed were derived from the first book I read – this is the path I shall be taking.
‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle was given to me by a close friend when I opened up to him about my feelings of discontent, feelings that I believe are shared and ignored by a vast proportion of society. There is no possible way that I could relay and summarise the 236-page book and its included ancient wisdom with more clarity, in a brief blog article, after only one read, but I shall certainly attempt it and I hope my portrayal of this message can inspire you to read the book and begin your own journey of love, happiness, self-discovery and awareness. Yes, that does mean you might have to read something or at least get the audio book. Before reading ‘The Power of Now’ I had begun to formulate a few basic ideologies and slogans which I was living my life by; 1. Work hard play hard 2. Moderation in all things 3. The fact we are here is a miracle and therefore life should be treasured and 4. Someone is always worse off and therefore you should be grateful. Now some of these motto’s are pure and true and worked on some personal levels for me, however, some did not. They lacked depth, understanding and experience and the fact I took pleasure in knowing that someone is worse off than me oppose to using that same knowledge to be the driving force for being nice or helping others, I can now see as slightly twisted and deranged – they certainly required an upgrade. The book provided me with this and so much more. I can only describe my experience with it through metaphor; imagine you’re trying to complete a 1000-piece puzzle but you’ve only got two or three pieces, they’re all crumpled and dirty and then someone comes along and hands you the fully finished piece; all shiny and glossy. It was overwhelming and had an instantaneous and profound effect on me. As happy as I became with the new-found knowledge provided for me by this book, it was clear that this was just one of many great puzzles I am to complete as I try to become a better, more rounded and aware human being on my journey through life.
In short and to the best of my knowledge; to be present is to shut off the inner voice or to at least recognise it and observe it from a non-judgemental position. Focusing on the internal and the external that you experience in that moment, for all we have is the now, you can only ever be in the present moment, so by bringing this to attention and learning to enjoy what’s currently going on rather than thinking about the past or the future can generate a great sense of contentment and joy (real contentment and joy, nothing superficial about it). It can also help to perish that long list of wants we all seem to carry. Everything blurs into one in the now and looking at each individual moment as its own makes it hard to hold on to anger, allowing you to be more at peace with the people and the world around you. You can have a higher level of focus and clarity on the tasks you’re completing and waiting becomes a thing of the past, as you are now solely enjoying the moment – taking it and accepting it for what it is. Again, easier said than done when its 6pm in the hospital waiting room and your appointment was at 12… or you’re ridden with cold, nose and face is streaming and you’ve got to spend the next six hours stuffing insulation into wall cavities… but it is achievable.
The more this sensation of true mindlessness is experienced, the easier it becomes to take yourself to this place. Close your eyes, concentrate, and tell me what your next thought it going to be? Anything come up? Now stare intensely at your finger, any thoughts? Its possible that during these activities you experiences no thought because you increased your level of focus. You may have disconnected the flow of incessant chatter. Now I can only maintain this myself for a small amount of time but with just a few attempts at home and during yoga – I believe I’ve had some success. When I get myself into this state, I find my body being filled with happiness and love, the level of which varies on how well I’ve controlled my mind (if that’s the right word). Its not all about peace and love though. Practising “Being in the now” can; increase and improve your concentration, your reflexes, your memory and most importantly and something I can attest to is that it can improve your relationships with the people around you; loved ones, friends, family and total strangers, as it removes your judgements, biases and discriminations and allows you to build a proper connection as it bypasses the narratives that we have been telling ourselves, that make up our judgements and opinions. People appreciate this raised level of attentiveness, it’s recognised, and you might just find things going your way a little bit more. If someone starts beeping me up in the car, I don’t want to get out and tell him to fuck off I just feel bad for him, why’s that person so mad? What has led them to get to this point. Human judgement and interaction are other topics I look forward to exploring.
I’ve noticed thousands of positive changes from attempting to apply this technique in my life as and when I can. I would love to share with you my little day to day techniques another time but for now I want to leave you with something that will hopefully encourage your own pursuit of inner peace. As well as a few momentary feelings of happiness and an overall positive increase on my outlook on the world, I’ve had two crazy moments which have stood out for me after managing to maintain what I believe is a high level of presence for a significant amount of time. I have experienced such powerful feelings of ecstasy, joy and happiness that they have been similar to previous experiences of taking MDMA but without the gurning or maybe a more classical moment like winning something big or whatever -I’m from Medway – I draw from what I know. One beginning during a day playing my role as a construction worker… the other a bit more cliché after speaking to a friend after a yoga class. Both times I’ve managed to maintain being entirely in the now for an extended period, functioning normally as a human being and getting on with my day to day yet being close to tears, feeling nothing but content and gratitude with no external influences other than taming my mind. If you cannot engage with the idea of being present for inner peace at least let your path begin with the quest for this sensation. You bloody junkies.
Side note time; if you thought the content was valuable in any way to you, or to someone else, please give it a share, a LIKE and drop me some feedback. Received heaps of support after my last article as I said… but please keep it up as it helps me improve further and most importantly makes me feel good, you may even find you yourself smiling as you write me a lovely comment 😉. I would also like to add that if everyone could wham a like onto the actual article on my website and maybe go back and do the one before… that would be great too, as it was defiantly slacking in the online-like department.