Imagine a time when life opened your heart. It may be a memory of the first time you fell in love, or when you received kudos for a major project. It may have been when you had time with a puppy, looked into the eyes of your child, went for a walk in nature or came across a group of children laughing in pure delight.
Even if you don’t have a memory in your mind, your body remembers these times of connecting with the pure joy of being alive.
In moments such as these, you’re not trying, doing, resisting, withdrawing, or grasping. You’re simply open to life.
But if you are honest with yourself, that is not how you usually live. You, like everyone else, are constantly efforting, hiding, resisting, attacking, defending, expecting, judging, posturing. You try to get rid of the difficult and try to make life be what you think will bring you lasting happiness:
- A headache comes, and you contract around the pain.
- You hear a friend has judged you and you want to attack in return.
- Your to-do list gets longer, and you close down in overwhelm.
- Your new lover doesn’t return your calls and you react.
- Your boss says she wants to see you in her office and you tighten up.
- You wake up to a gray morning and you feel depressed.
- Doubt arises, and your mind goes into a meltdown.
- You get a difficult diagnosis and you implode in despair.
- You starve yourself in order to make your body look the way you think it should look.
- You are asked to speak in front of a group of people and your neck and chest constrict.
- Anger arises inside of you and you close.
- Fear arises, and you resist.
It is important to understand that meeting all the uncomfortable parts of life in resistance keeps you caught in a prison of struggle. This is not something to judge. It’s something to notice.
What would happen if you could stay open to all the parts of life you don’t like, for this is the path to joy? Happiness is getting what you want, and this does happen in life for short periods of time. But joy is the ability to be with whatever life is offering.
All your life you will have many unwanted states of mind and experiences. Staying open and curious about whatever closes you allows a softening. This open curiosity brings forth a spaciousness which allows you to creatively engage in the flow of change that is life. You can then rediscover the pure joy of being, no matter what is happening in your life.