Some of you have taken up the meditations and really given them some consideration during your day and already you’re subtly feeling the effects. Now let’s use your increased awareness of what you want to move toward and away from, and now we can develop a way for you to steer yourself using every tool available.
Your mind stores ideas of you and the world in much, much more complex ways than you currently imagine. It’s why we walk and age like our parents and we can always ride a bike. We might have to find the part of us where the bike is, but when we do we’ll have a lot of it back at once. Well, we want to make happiness like bike riding.
Why does the bike riding work? Muscle “memory,” although all of you is smart. Your mind is your experience of it all–but your being does know how to ride in a way that’s difficult for you to comprehend. But because happiness doesn’t require your balance and because falling off is less immediately painful, people don’t store happiness with the same detail that they store bike riding. So let’s change that.
For the next few days just monitor your mood and your being. Notice signs of you being low or signs of you being up or signs of you being angry etc. etc. Maybe it’s how you talk, maybe it’s how your breathe or stand. Maybe you walk differently or keep your eyes fixed somewhere differently. For instance, if I start to feel hurried my hand will curl into the position it was in immediate after my accident. That will lead me to stand up and shake out the tension, do my breathing exercise and then settle back into work in a different frame of mind.
Know signs that you’re in a state of mind you enjoy and don’t enjoy. Then (unless you’re learning something valuable), you can just use your “memory” of what your body moves like when it feels good and you can literally steer it away from feeling bad. Your thoughts and resulting brain chemistry will trigger a smile but a smile will also need a bit of brain chemistry. It’s like boosting your car or fiddling with a radio dial. Make yourself an antenna for nice feelings.
Don’t think this is hard because you already do this. Maybe it was an important work day and you were sick but you bucked up and went–the act of “bucking up” was the conscious switch. Likewise when someone can tough it through a bad cold for a day out in the snow with friends, whereas a day of work would tilt them towards resting. You do this all the time. Start doing it on purpose, not just when your family patterns and habits would suggest it.
If you’re focused on learning about yourself you’ll have less attention to pay to others. That’s good because as we discussed yesterday, their opinions are varied, fleeting and meaningless in almost every single case. Better that you’re focused on your own life. You’re amazing. Get to know you and you’ll realize you have all kinds of ways to influence yourself.
Get conscious. Less thinking about others and yourself and more just watching and noticing. You don’t have to search or make efforts to change. Just observe. Trust me, if you’re mindfully observing you won’t need any help in noticing useful things. Then when you catch yourself demonstrating low behaviour you can decide to switch to something nicer whenever you’re ready. Just adopt the physical signals that your body recognizes as happiness and shift your thoughts to the nicest things available. The rest your body will know how to do by nature. It really is that easy. Enjoy.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.