“If you desire to know where your spiritual work lies, look to your emotional pain.” — Alan Cohen
Meditation is one of the key practices to feel your emotions. Our normal reaction to most emotional pain is to run from it or suppress it. Meditation allows you to get more deeply in touch with what you’re feeling.
The truth is that as human beings, we actually feel numerous emotions at the same time. We also shift quickly, moving from one emotion to the next, often almost imperceptibly. Meditation attunes us to the subtle and multi-layered fluctuations of our emotional state.
To feel your emotions without fleeing from them, and without rationalizing or interpreting them (another way to not feel them), you need to develop two key capacities: focus and awareness.
They are not the same.
The first, focus, allows you to remain with a single object of attention. It is about concentration, rather than your mind wandering. Shamatha or zazen, where you bring your attention to your breath, is a form of concentration meditation.
The second, awareness, allows you to be curious about and open to whatever arises in the mind. It is your capacity to notice what is there. Vipassana meditation cultivates this willingness to notice whatever arises in the mind, and to notice far more than what you normally perceive.
From This is it:
This moment, this exact moment, whatever you find yourself doing. That is it. You have arrived. Enjoy!
Our minds constantly look forward to future events, telling us that after this or that happens, we will finally be happy. The truth is that there is only this moment. Now.
If you are not able to enjoy yourself now, you won’t be able to enjoy yourself in the future. But our minds are habit-forming machines and most of us are in the habit of looking forward to future events for happiness. How can we get out of this habit?
Simply get in the habit of reminding yourself:
This is it.
This is the right moment to allow yourself to enjoy.
One of Thay’s most famous quotes is “Present moment, wonderful moment”.
“This is it”, I think, has a similar meaning. But to me, it is much more powerful.
So many times, we are doing things that we’re supposed to enjoy in autopilot mode, passively.
Even when I am doing something that I truly like, my mind tends to think about the next thing I will do, or is craving for that other thing I wish I had.
Now, every time I am doing something that I enjoy, even slightly, I remind myself “This is it”. This is the moment you had been looking forward to, enjoy it damn it! Savor it.
It’s fairly easy to find those kinds of moments in our everyday life:
- Brushing my teeth while listening to chillhop music…This is it
- Taking a warm shower after a workout…This is it
- Lying in bed with my girlfriend…This is it
- Talking on the phone to my sister…This is it
- Sitting down, ready to enjoy a warm cooked meal…This is it
- Enjoying hot tea at home during a snowy day…This is it