When I was a teenager, in my quest to answer the ultimate question – why am I not happy? I went on a reading rampage.
Fortunately at the time I worked in a second hand book shop and the owner had a preference for new age, self help and spiritual books. So often I would find myself standing behind the counter facing a wall of these sorts of books.
I read many books on affirmations, attracting the life you want and the power of your mind etc. And then a book dropped into my sphere. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It was the first time I had been introduced to the concept of mindfulness and being in the present moment. It changed my life.
But here enters my mistake. I had read so many books about the power of the mind and affirmations, I was completely convinced that it was only okay to have “good” thoughts and “good” emotions. That anything else may lead to cataclysmic events or at the very least demonstrate what an unevolved and unspiritual person I was.
I started practising mindfulness…with a twist. I was completely present, it took a lot of practice at first, constantly guiding my mind back to the present moment. It became second nature to me after a while though.
My mistake however, was a rigid control of the mind. At any point I noticed a negative thought or emotion enter the present, I would talk myself out of it. And in a strange way, I hypnotised myself into this place of what I can only describe as ecstasy. Negative emotions did not exist in the reality I created, they didn’t have a place. I kept this up for a good 3 months. And then it all came crashing down spectacularly.
What I missed was the concept of neutrality. The state I was living in was not real. The state I was living in was a complete disregard to the entire spectrum that makes up my being. To practice true mindfulness, one must accept everything that comes into their space with open arms. It doesn’t mean you must like it or approve of it, but you accept it is there. That is the world of duality we live in, without “good” you cannot have “bad”. It can be likened to the yin and the yang. When you are mindful, you experience the now moment fully, but you do not identify with it. That is the difference and that was the mistake I made.
Happiness is not an end game. You can be completely content in the space of neutrality with “negative” emotions whirling around you. That is the complexity of our being, you can experience numerous conflicting or paradoxical things at once.
Often the new age movement will tell you that happiness and positivity is your goal, that if you are having negative thoughts or emotions then you are doing it “wrong”. The power of the mind is often preached with such fervour, that they often forget the one who sits behind the mind, the observer.
I invite everyone to take a step back, to really take in what is around them in this present moment and to witness it and welcome it in the space of neutrality and see what transforms.
~ Fox Robin