Leading a meaningful life and having meaningful relationships with others are important factors for happiness to arise but equally we need to be making a certain kind of effort working on ourselves.
Recently I was on a 2 week solitary meditation retreat in the south of Spain, I was forced to be with myself with no distractions, i.e no mobile or netflix! The retreat was not always easy, but by the end the quality of my mental and emotion states were better than usual. One of the main reasons for this was gently going deeper into my own experience and being more honest about how I was and working effectively in meditation from there. A bigger perspective on live opened up and I noticed a certain quality of happiness arising on the basis of that. With this perspective and experience I was able to review 2016 and look at some changes I needed to make. Changes that I hope will lead to a richer internal life.
Most of us are very busy with life and pulled in several directions, if we are not careful the tendency is to live on the surface just getting by. I notice this particularly with work which is sometimes high pressured. If my awareness fragments my experience narrows down and I loose touch with a ‘bigger picture’. In other words I loose touch with purpose and direction and start feeling oppressed, in those moments happiness goes out the window!
Meditation or some form of it seems to me vital for the health of the human mind. Formal daily sitting practice is important but not enough if we want to have an effective practice of meditation and mindfulness. We need to allow some other time in the day to ‘sink deeper’ into felt experience and learn to be with that. We need to find ways of doing that, it could be a mindful walk or time sitting at home with a coffee or tea noticing how we are. If we can be with ourselves in this way at least some of the time, positive and deeper reflections will arise which will help enrich experience and maybe more importantly prompt us to make changes as my solitary retreat helped me to do.
It is easy to underestimate the importance of learning to be with ourselves. It’s difficult and there are so many more apparently interesting things to do! The less I do this the more I tend to ‘eat’ into formal sitting practice trying to figure out how I am deeper down. You can’t really move forward if you don’t know where you are or what you are working with. If you want to practice mindfulness and meditation effectively you will need to take an honest look at your life in this way.