What comes to mind when you imagine the idea of enjoying this present moment? Most likely, the pictures that surface in your mind are images of what you think enjoyment or happiness is supposed to be. These are the typical images that your mind gives to you, based on how your mind has been influenced by media, by people, and by this modern world. These notions of idealized bliss are made-up — these bright and shiny faux images are merely symbols for happiness, but they are not real.
The person jumping up and down, shouting hooray, is not necessarily enjoying the moment. Rather, he or she is responding to something that seems to bring relief — the person just got a job they wanted, for example, or just received a much anticipated phone call. Well, those events are wonderful, but then what do you do in the ordinary circumstances that are more typical of daily life?
Are you supposed to behave as some positive-thinking trainings teach you to behave — as if you were a buoyantly happy cheerleader at a football game, yelling that you are having a wonderful time? That might generate a jolly spark or two for a moment, but it’s not real enjoyment. Unfortunately, such pumped-up efforts can only try to mimic happiness, and they may actually take you farther from true enjoyment. The simple reason for this is that deeper enjoyment is connected to awareness, and awareness is a subtle experience.
Awareness requires that you be present to what is actually happening in the moment, and this is why you can’t make yourself feel enjoyment. When you demand to feel good, you are making your emotions jump through a hoop like a trained seal. However, your emotions want to be charmed into enjoyment, and not forced into it. This is why the artificially happy behaviors of people who want to prove that they’re having a good time don’t generate real happiness.
But what if your immediate situation seems boring, unpleasant, or difficult? Wouldn’t you need to be hearing good news, or surrounded by symbols of success in order to enjoy the moment?
Actually, feeling good in the present moment requires your awareness of the world around you — as it is. When you are able to sense the world around you, then you can combine that outer awareness, of whatever you find there, with your inner awareness — and that combination can bring you to some delightful feelings.
The world around you, that you can see and hear, is the world that you experience with your five senses — sight, hearing, feeling, smell, and taste.
The world within you is the realm of your emotions, your thoughts, and of your subtle inner spiritual awareness. You might call it your imagination, or your inner sacred space; it is the realm of your divine soul.
With the power of your awareness, you can comfortably combine your sensing of the outer world with your inner feelings and thoughts. This combination doesn’t produce instant delight, however, because real enjoyment only takes place over time — it evolves. That means that if you demand to be happy or relaxed right now, you’re only creating tension. But why is it so important for you to be aware over a period of time?
The key is that each moment becomes magical when you are aware of how each moment evolves from the previous moment, and evolves again into the next moment.
This is the mysterious secret of consciousness — that the subtle shifting that happens from this moment to the next is only fascinating if you are actually present to experience it as it shifts and evolves — your consciousness is required. You can’t replace that moment-to-moment awareness with anything else. You can’t buy it, and you can’t force it. You just have to be present so that you can notice the subtle shifts as they happen.
But you are already experiencing each moment, aren’t you? After all, you’re there, in that moment, so why question whether you’re really experiencing it? Actually, when you’re trying to be happy, or trying not to be unhappy, then you aren’t really experiencing the subtle energy shifts — the fascinating ones — that are taking place now, moment by moment.
And when you aren’t experiencing the subtle shifts, then everything feels coarse and somewhat unpleasant. Or perhaps it seems somewhat unreal or flat. This begins to explain why so many people think they must find a special reason to be happy. This is why they have come to believe that happiness looks like jumping in the air while shouting hooray. They missed their deeper connection to enjoyment, and they thought they could substitute an emotional fireworks display.
Since real enjoyment looks nothing like what you expect it to be, this hints that enjoyment is a subtle art, to be discovered anew each day. This art, though it takes a bit of skill, is easy to experience, especially when you discover that you have the ingredients you need already within you. But will you use them?
Let’s explore how your awareness of the outer world combines with your awareness of your inner world. To start, here is a little meditation to discover the subtle elements of the world around you. This will help you get a sense of the vital power of your conscious moment-by-moment awareness.
Meditation to awaken your senses to the world around you:
- Notice the shapes of the objects around you. For example, the rectangular picture frame, the round clock, the cylindrical pencil, and so on, throughout the room. Do not judge them; just notice their shapes.
- Gently trace these shapes with your gaze, so that you really become aware of the designs within your environment. Don’t stare — just let yourself experience gentle focus as you explore the shapes.
- As you gently trace the shapes around you, gently breathe, so that you are aware of your body.
- First, notice the obvious sounds, such as a car horn, a telephone ringing, or a voice nearby. Next, notice the subtle sounds around you, such as a clock quietly ticking, the breeze flowing through a tree nearby, the quiet hissing of a heater or radiator, and quiet voices in another room.
- As you notice each sound, experience it as a sound vibration — without judging it. Imagine that you are cataloging the sounds in your environment, and experiencing them as rare examples of sound.
- As you experience the sounds, breathe gently into your body, and notice that you are experiencing the sounds — but you are not the sounds; you are still centered within yourself.
Deeper feeling or sensing:
- Notice the temperature of the room, and experience how the air feels on your skin.
- Discover how each object in the room, and each person present, has an aura, or vibe. It’s OK if it seems that you’re imagining this — let your imagination give you permission to sense the subtle realities that are present in your world.
- Let yourself notice your reactions to each aura in the room. Without judging yourself or anything in the room, discover if you can experience each vibe or aura as a phenomena of energy, rather than as a label or judgment.
- Notice the feel of the neighborhood. Each locale has its own feel, or specific quality of presence. You don’t have to put this in words — just experience it, and let yourself recognize the felt sense of that place.
Seeing, hearing, and feeling — integrating your senses:
- Gently notice what you see in the shapes, colors, and textures around you.
- As you look around you, include the sounds in your environment in your awareness.
- As you look and listen, gently include your felt sense, as if you are sensing the vibe or aura around you.
- Quietly shift from seeing, to hearing, to sensing. There is no one way to do this. Explore your senses one at a time, and also combined, in any creative way that you choose.
- Breathe gently and easily as you shift your sensory awareness from looking, to hearing, to sensing. Stay centered in your body, and keep breathing.
During this meditation, do you find that even though you are generally focusing on one sense or the other, your senses seem to combine into one large multi-sensory experience? You may find that your senses are working together, all helping you experience your environment with the deep realism of a close-up photograph — combined with a high quality audio recording — combined with the multifaceted sensory experience of a vividly rich environment, such as the forest or the ocean.
In part two, you’ll discover how to link your conscious intentional awareness with your subtle sensing, to create an awareness loop that brings you ever-new levels of subtle delight…
Joel Bruce Wallach
Founder, Cosmic-Living for spiritual empowerment – tele-classes and self-paced mp3’s