Buddhists talk often about happiness. It is a focus on the path. My journey with spirituality, particularly Buddhism and Daoism, has led me to realise that essentially I am a happy being but as I have grown older I feel, for me, the spiritual journey is now more about attaining a state of contentment rather than cultivating happiness. Happiness seems somehow more frivolous–like an energetic, rather fast heartbeat whereas at my ripe old age of fifty eight contentment sounds like a centred, steady, regular heartbeat.
To encourage the growth of contentment in the unruly garden of the mind there is no better tool than that of Mindfulness. Buddhism has helped me to understand that when I hang on to old emotional states such as anger, grief, anxiety, or fear I suffer. Freedom from attachment to these states arises when we let go of them in this moment and move towards an acceptance of what is in this moment. This is Mindfulness.
I had polio as a child and now have post polio syndrome. This has been a fantastic opportunity to cultivate Mindfulness. Whenever I feel sad, angry, fearful or in pain I tune into the feelings that I am identifying with and then let them go realising “I have feelings but I am not my feelings”. And in opening to this moment I appreciate my being and my environment right now. Through choosing Mindfulness rather than attachment to my feelings, comes contentment.
A conversation with a friend, the warm smell of the dinner cooking, the play of sunlight on leaves –the small things of life are here for us to enjoy when we let go of identifying with our cares and woes and instead live in a calm appreciation of this moment. When we do this we are giving the body and mind the chance to deeply relax and in this contented space healing can take place. I am deeply grateful to this practise of Mindfulness