Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Superhighway to Happiness


Whatever you're focusing on, you're experiencing.  Simple.  What's not so simple, until you've got the inner musculature stronger, is moving your attention at will.  If you want to be able to do 100 pushups (yes there's an app for that too...), you've got to start with 1 pushup, well performed.  Then you can move to two and 20, and according to the app, within six weeks you'll be doing 100 pushups if you follow the program.  There's some work involved, and if you don't know why you're setting out to be someone who can effectively do 100 pushups (at one time), then when you hit challenges, it's easy to get distracted which leads to diminished results which leads to quitting.  If you're human like me, you've done this in your life, at least once, if not more.

So what are you focusing on?  What are you giving attention to?  Do you like it?  Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy?  Or does it make you a bit prickly, a bit difficult to be around when you're obsessing internally about your insecurities? 

If you're suffering, you're focused on an illusion and relating to it like it's real, true, and likely permanent.  Nothing is permanent.  That's basic Tao 101, Change is constant.  Yet when that feeling comes up, yes, you know the one....the one that takes you out of commission when you believe it....the one that your mind starts gathering all variety of "evidence" to support....when that feeling comes up, and your ego is building the case, there's an addiction at play.  There is literally a secretion of hormones in the body, a particular order of neurons firing and the system gets habituated, or addicted to that feeling, however lousy it may feel. 

Then there's the accompanying feelings of powerlessness to change that can come along for the ride.  The next thing you know, the mind is chiming in with all the "to do" items that are more urgent and time-sensitive than actually stopping all action and getting back into your right mind, into the felt presence of contentment, or even authentic happiness.

At this point in my life it's clear, the only thing I have a say over consistently is my own inner state.  The stronger my inner state, the more leverage I have in the outer world.  The weaker my inner state, the more the prevailing challenges in the world have ongoing impact on every aspect of my life. 

You can either become an organizing principle, or be organized and shuffled around by the chaos of the world.  An organizing principle in the way I'm working with it here is a power point, deeply grounded into inner strength that is grown through attention and practice.  Like an electro-magnet that turns neighboring iron filings into mini-magnets, you become this force that life organizes itself around.

So to begin this reversal of the power back to you, back to your choice to be happy independent of circumstances, we start with what you're focusing on, what you're paying attention to, what you're animating and perpetuating with your own life force.

At some point, this kind of self-reflection becomes an ongoing habit.  Along the way, it's not only an enormous support, it's CRITICAL to set aside daily time for formal practice.  What do I mean by 'formal'?  Suit and tie?  Cocktail dress and Jimmy Choo's?  Not so much. 

I mean specific scheduled times each day with set beginning and ending times that you don't let get preempted by anything. 

What do I do during this time?  Since the focus of this note is meditation, I'm going to suggest actually meditating.  It can be easy, it can be enjoyable (which is a key to depth in meditation), and there's a tremendous amount of support for learning how.

I use the EOC Institute's "Balance" mp3 ( nearly every time I meditate.  It uses tonal frequencies through your headphones, masked in the sound of gentle rainfall to literally train your brain and nervous system to live in meditative states.

Working with a seasoned teacher shortens the learning curve tremendously and helps troubleshoot places where your attention is getting caught or stuck, and restoring you into the awe-inspiring free-fall of deep meditation.

Just start. 

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