This week was my last week of the eight week meditation course I’ve been doing.
Overall I definitely found it worthwhile, and while mileage may vary on any given day, I think I I have gotten a lot out of it.
Quotable quote from tonight was that “You have the right to remain calm, no matter what.”
We were also talking about depression and about happiness. And what buddhist meditation argues, I guess, is that the attitude that you bring to any situation is at least as much, if not more a part of how you feel about it, as any external stimulus is.
Meditation is all about trying to exist more in the moment. And if we think about it, the times in life that we remember as having been really happy are usually times when we’ve been “in the moment”. Reading a really good book, watching a really good movie, hanging out with friends, family. Even eating a really good meal. A lot of the times when we are genuinely happy, it’s because our brain has stopped thinking, and is just totally there, free from worrying about the future, free from thinking about the past, just in the zone.
When we remember those times, we tend to associate them with the external stimulus. So we try to repeat the formula and to recapture the magic of those moments, by going back to the same place, re-reading the book or author, watching more films, eating that same food. But so often it’s not the same. And so we spend a lot of our lives chasing a feeling we once had.
What meditation teaches us is that we may never be able to recreate the magic of those moments. But we can train the mind to be more receptive; to be ready, to leave aside the thoughts that get in the way of those moments, to be here, now, as often as we can. And that is a more conducive way to recreate what we remember as “happiness”, as opposed to seeking to produce the external conditions.
Of course, it then follows that, while certain situations and experiences might be more conducive to creating happiness (good movies rather than bad movies, for instance), the better we become at being in the moment, the broader the experience we can encompass within that zone of good feeling.
I wouldn’t say I have come a long way, but I have definitely taken steps toward that openness, and I have already felt a difference in my life. And while none of that makes you immune to setbacks, ups and downs, I do feel that I am, at least, moving in the right direction.