By Thomas McConkie, adapted from an episode of the Mindfulness+ podcast
Sometimes it may seem like no matter where you go in this modern world, people are exhausted.
Perhaps you’ve felt it. Maybe you've gone back to school to get a better job. Maybe you aren’t feeling fulfilled in a relationship and want to trade your partner out for another to see how you fair in the lottery. Maybe your mind is wandering from the present moment, fixating on an even better moment that might, you imagine, lie just around the corner.
Whatever the specifics, chances are that you’re exhausted in part because you’re reaching for that which you don’t have.
Of course, I'm not suggesting for a moment that it’s a bad thing to get further education and a better job. Or that it's inherently bad to leave a relationship that's not working anymore. Or even that it's bad to let your mind wander. These experiences are all just part of human life. They're what it means to be human.
But what I want to point out is that when we're stuck in this mode, when all we can do is seek better things that don’t yet exist, we tend to feel exhausted. If we're constantly in a posture of reaching, we can't let go, relax, and be with exactly what is right now.
It doesn't have to be that way.
Instead, you can practice taking up the attitude that everything you need is right here.
Take a moment and see what it does to your body when you internalize these words: "everything I need is right here."
In one sense, the practice of mindfulness is the practice of giving that thought more time each day.
Of course, that thought can itself be pitfall. You might pick up mindfulness because you hear it will help you relax more, and all of a sudden mindfulness becomes a new task — a new form of seeking. In that instance, mindfulness itself puts you back at square one, where you're in a posture of reaching.
So I want to invite you to really sit with the thought that wherever you are and whatever you're doing right now, absolutely nothing is missing.
When I teach this concept, people often ask, "If nothing is missing, why would I get out of bed in the morning? Why would I do anything at all if everything is right here?”
It’s a good question, and it’s important to note that the point isn’t to learn mindfulness and then become so passive that there's no need to ever leave our meditation cave for the rest of our lives. Rather, mindfulness is a practice that helps us replenish. It's a practice that helps us rejuvenate so that we become deeply present and then paradoxically become more vibrant in our actions.
Let’s see what this feels like in practice.
Whatever you're doing right now, come to stillness.
Starting with the experience of the physical body. Just notice in this moment how you feel. You can notice any pleasant sensations as well as any challenging sensations — any physical discomfort.
It's deeply instinctual to want to move away from discomfort, but what you can do here is just invite all of your experience to be present right now. Notice the comfort and discomfort in the body. And then notice that there's a part of you that’s even deeper than the body, a part of you that can just allow comfort and discomfort to exist as they are. Be present to this full experience.
And you can notice what emotions are present. Maybe pleasant emotions, maybe neutral emotions. Maybe you’re not feeling much of anything — an emotional idling. Or maybe you’re aware of challenging emotions, or negative emotions. Whatever the case, notice that you're able to just stay present to all of it.
If you're feeling really good, you don't need to grasp on to that good feeling. If you feel negative emotions at the moment, you don't have to drive those emotions away and go looking for a better experience. You can just rest in this moment exactly as it is.
And now notice what thoughts might be going through your mind. Maybe thoughts about things that have happened in the past. Maybe thoughts anticipating what needs to happen today or what you hope will happen in the future.
Rather than struggling with the thinking mind, rather than trying to stop thought, you can just allow thought to flow without diving into the stream yourself, without pursuing thought or elaborating on it.
You can just allow thoughts to flow as naturally as blood flows through the veins.
Notice that whatever the state of the physical body and whatever the state of the thinking mind, there's a part of you deeper than the physical body and deeper than the thinking mind. And this part of you is just aware.
For this moment, you don't have to struggle. You don't have to strive. You can simply rest in this moment that is full. Rest in this moment where absolutely nothing is missing. Everything you need is right here.
So, why would we want to experience this?
Again, because we live in a world where we are constantly driven to exhaustion.
We are constantly reaching for what comes next, to the point we forget that there's a moment right here. We forget there's a moment right now where we're already complete. And when we rest deeply in this sense of completion. When we really take on this posture and attitude of nothing is missing and everything you need is right here, something really amazing happens: we start to move in life.
Improvement itself is not the problem. Striving for all the things we care about most in our lives is not the problem itself. The problem is the forgetting.
When we remember we are complete, we paradoxically start to reach the things we care about most. Not from a place of lack. Not from a place where we feel like something’s missing and we just need to work harder and won't be ok until we have it.
Rather than moving from a place of scarcity, trying to get more and trying to bring more in, we start with a quality of deep fulfillment.
You could say we start from a place of abundance and from that place where everything is complete and everything we need is here, we move to the next moment where everything we need is already here again.
And in that way we let go of exhaustion.
Transcribed by Seth McConkie, edited by Jon Ogden
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