The Dali Lama was asked once by some reporters, “What was your happiest moment?” He thought for a while and gave a smile and said “I think now is my happiest moment.” Isn’t it true? The only time we can really be happy is right now. The only time we can really feel love, peace, or anything that really matters to us, is right now. We can think about love, we can dream about it and hope for it, but the only time we can really inhabit it is right now.
So with mindfulness meditation we are learning to pay attention without judgement. We are learning to pay attention to now and we can learn a lot about ourselves and the world in this way. The poet Rumi asked, “Do you pay regular visits to yourself?” When we visit ourselves, do we enjoy it? Or do we have a grudge in going? Sort of like when you have to visit a relative who always asks the same questions over and over, or complains incessantly or nags constantly. Does this sound familiar? Is this how our visits go to ourselves? Or do we just get bored and want to leave almost as soon as we get there? When we choose to stay in the now, we also choose to stay with the uncomfortable and the boring. They have their place in our lives also, and can become great teachers if we will allow them. Non-judgmental attention means that we just allow all things to be, even our own thoughts.
When we train our minds with meditation, we are learning how to become available to what is happening right now. We want to become available to listen to someone we care about, or look at a beautiful sunset or actually enjoy the work we are involved in. We want to be available to have the freedom to live life, not just run through it. What we are looking for is already here. We just are unable to see it when we are constantly doing and striving. When we meditate, we are almost “un-doing” the ways that we distract ourselves so we can experience what is already here. Meditation is not about getting somewhere. We are just trying to uncover who we are already so we can shine freely.
There’s a great analogy to what we want to experience as we live in the now. Imagine that you have a pot of water full of sediments and imagine that pot is constantly shaken and agitated. The water appears cloudy. Imagine that you stop agitating the pot and just let it rest on the floor. The water will become calm and, after a while, all the sediments will settle and the water will appear clear. Our mind represents the pot of water and the sediment is all of our thoughts. When we become still and quiet, we allow ourselves to live in this moment and clear our minds of any past or future. When we allow this quiet to come, we learn that we are already enough. We learn that we have enough and that we are beautifully satisfied with our lives, just as they are.
Here is a link to a YouTube video that I love about the moments in life. It’s by Will Hoffman and I think it is beautiful.