When I graduated from college with an engineering degree, I thought I had arrived. My joy was short lived; I had to find a job, and in 1971, they were in short supply. To insure that I’d be happy, I got married immediately upon graduation. Surely, being married would bring lasting happiness!
Neither of these worked so well. As it turned out, engineering was not a good fit for my interests and adjusting to marital life was difficult at best. For me and many others, searching for happiness was much like looking under rocks. There had to be something under one of them to fulfill us.
Fortunately for me, it wasn’t too many years later that someone pointed out that there was a better way. I met a wise teacher who told me there’s a deeper truth to finding happiness and inner peace.
Happiness is inside
Yesterday, I had the good fortune to accompany my five year old granddaughter to story time at our local library. The story teller had the children mesmerized by a tale of frogs and pollywogs. She had them hopping, dancing and wiggling with joy. The kids were in ecstasy.
And this is with them every day. My granddaughter is delight personified. She doesn’t need to be given a gift to have joy, her happiness just is. She’s excited by life – a silly expression, a new idea, a song, almost anything brings her delight.
I’m grateful to have her in my life, her joy is contagious. The good news is that it is a memory or state of BEING that we can nurture even as adults.
My first meditation teacher often told us that the nature of life is bliss. He explained that stress blocks the flow of energy and bliss in our nervous system. By releasing inner stress and tension, meditation allows us to reclaim the well-being and joy that resides inside all of us.
States of being
I see the evidence of it with every Effortless Meditation™ course that I teach. As we progress through the series of seven sessions, the mood gets lighter and more joyful. Frequently, couples who express relationship concerns notice after only a few days of meditation practice that they are more patient with each other. They also recognize they are happier and at peace for no apparent reason.
Eureka, happiness, inner peace, and delight don’t need a reason to exist! They are states of being that occur spontaneously and effortlessly when our brain and nervous system are functioning more normally/optimally.
In his delightful book, Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, author Eckhart Tolle states that “true happiness is found in simple, seemingly unremarkable things.” You may experience it when watching your dog run playfully through a meadow. “But to be aware of these little quiet things, we need to be quiet inside. A high degree of alertness is required. Be still. Look. Listen. Be present.”
To get there, try this…
Meditation is rapidly growing in popularity. It is simple to learn although it helps to have a skilled teacher and good technique. Meditation enables us to experience our “quiet mind” and be present. With regular practice, the simple pleasures of life become a growing part of our daily experience.
Walk mindfully through a forest or city street; give in to listening. Observe your surroundings as you stroll silently without trying to get anywhere. Don’t try to quiet your mind, your mind is already quiet just not on the surface or conscious thinking level. To get to the deeper quiet areas of the mind, meditation is helpful but just walking quietly and mindfully is a good start.
Finally, beyond the sounds and stirrings of nature there is something greater, a sacredness that cannot be understood through thought. This is the world of wonder to which my granddaughter and her playmates have access. The world is a delight to them. And it can be a delight for adults as well. Just learn to experience your quiet mind using the suggestions above. Become child-like, if only for a few minutes each day.
Director, Stress Reduction Resources