Don’t change your life to change how you feel about your life. You don’t need to leave your home, your city, your family and your job to feel coherent, whole and fulfilled. But you can change one thing that changes everything: being more and more present in your own life.
We all have developed bad habits over time: regretting the past, worrying about the future. With our minds all over the place, we hardly ever notice/focus on what is going on right now. While we are on the stepping machine, we watch TV. While we are in the meeting, we think about our last meeting and think about what is going on after the meeting. While we play with our kids, we think about our jobs. While we are in the yoga class, we think about the nice dinner we will have later. While we are doing one thing, we are thinking about other things.
We are masters at pretending to listen to other people while we are thinking about ourselves, what we want, what we will do and what we will say. We pay attention to everything except to what is going on. We are so used to these habits that we don’t even realize it. We are unaware of our own unawareness.
This constant distraction is like poison for our mind and leads to unprecedented levels of exhaustion. Our lifestyle and technology doesn’t help either.
We can survive our lives like this. The only problem is that we are missing out on living: It feels stale and shallow. Fixed on the future and the past, obsessed with what happened and with worries and hopes about the future. We are simply missing ourselves. We will never arrive anywhere but in the here and now. There is no other place to be. The future will be the same “now ” as the past was. We cannot escape it. Once we are diving instructors on paradise island, life will feel the same, after we have gotten used to the new circumstances. Nothing ever changes.
Paying attention to what is going on in this very moment is very, very difficult. We haven‘t cultivated this practice. When we meditate, we don’t manage to focus our mind on our breath for 30 seconds. Our mind runs off like a badly-educated dog, all over the place. We are thinking about people, plans and experiences that have happened or maybe will happen. None of the persons we are thinking about are in the room – they are in our mind and they blur our senses.
When we start becoming aware of the here and now, when we start to feel our feelings, sense our body and notice the beauty of simple things, taste our food, enjoy the presence of people we love, focus on our boring work… life becomes deep and meaningful. You know the moment you see clearly through your glasses after cleaning them? We did not realize how dirty they were. Everything is colorful and shiny in an instant. It needs a lot of focus and attention to practice focus and attention. We need to counteract actively and learn how to live a life. Starting with five minutes a day of practicing the experience of pure being can be a life-changing experience, without having to change your life.