As the headline says, happiness is more a state of being than something we achieve by doing or accomplishing things. In fact, the headline could stop right there, at the word BEING, and we,d still be talking about the same thing..
Why is it so difficult for us to simply be? What prevents us from being in that state more often? Right now, what stands between you and happiness ?, between you and being at ease and feeling calmed? .. See what arises in your mind as you ask yourself this question.
For many of us, what gets in the way is being trapped in states of tension or stress. This is what prevents us from feeling at home. Worrying and constantly doing things without a pause causes our body to tense and our mind to get anxious .. and that prevents us from enjoying our moments.
It,s the rush of the society in which we live, the demands and pressures of our daily life that leads us to a way of living that keeps us further away from the well-being and happiness that are our natural state.
How stress works
Let’s see for a moment how stress works: when we perceive something threatening, it automatically triggers the fight, flight, freeze mode in our brain, which causes a whole series of physiological effects in our body.
When these triggers are extreme or continuous, our nervous system is overloaded and trapped in a system of constant fight, flight, freeze. This means that our body is regularly bathed in the biochemistry of stress and our mind begins to create thoughts that feed the cycle: judging, worrying and adding more pressure.
In this toxic inner state, our muscles become tense and our mind becomes overloaded. When this becomes chronic, we end up exhausted and this undermines the quality of our lives.
Research indicates that stress can reduce our health and shorten our lives. In fact, studies show that practicing attention to the present moment or mindfulness reduces cortisol levels – which helps prevent inflammation (the first cause of many diseases), and also reduces the risks of depression and coronary heart disease, among many other benefits.
An always unsatisfied mind
Apart from the automatic response of our body to stress, there is also a system in our brain, called the achievement and reward system, which generates one of the most addictive hormones that exist: dopamine. This makes us always want more and more pleasant stimuli.
This part, called the limbic brain, is always operating. It,s a system that makes us goal oriented and allows us to prosper in life, but unfortunately it,s easily activated and remains eager for more satisfaction, pleasure and goals,.. at least 20% more of what we have, according to scientists.
So, no matter our status in life or what we have achieved, if we aren,t able to stop, appreciate the present moment and send to those parts of our brain the message that it is enough and that we are comfortable with what is, we can,t have peace.
The sacred pause
There is a saying that goes: ‘there is freedom is the moment between a perception and an opinion’. When we cultivate conscious attention to what happens in the moment, we can stop and disidentify with everything we think, feel and do automatically. In mindfulness, the first instruction we are given is to pause. This pause is sacred because is the door to free ourselves from that automatic way of doing, achieving and worrying.
When we allow ourselves to pause, we realize what is going on, inside and outside of us. We,re aware of our sensations, emotions, thoughts, reactions and attitudes as they are happening, as well as of what surrounds us: sounds, colors, smells, space, textures .. Then we can let go of unnecessary tensions, and go back to appreciate the richness of the present moment.
By consciously pausing, we can change the state of internal tension to a mode of openness and awareness. When we take the time to stop all that doing and relax in our body, we see that the mind follows. This conscious relaxation is the next step to enter presence.
The relaxation that brings us to presence is not something we do. Relaxation is not another doing, but rather a non-doing that allows the tension to dissolve. When we relax consciously, we stop doing, and then relaxation naturally occurs. It’s just about bringing a natural awareness to the areas of tension in our body and letting them dissolve on their own, without effort.
At the time of consciously relaxing, we can also put a slight intention to relax, but without letting it interfere too much with a process that is natural. Depending on the degree of tension or contraction in our body and mind, and on the practice that we have in releasing our tensions, this relaxation will take more or less time.
And let me know how it goes in the comments. Thank you for reading 🙂