Wherever You Go, There You Are.
This Is One Of Those Rare Expressions That Is Also Accurate.
I spend a lot of my focus noticing things. You could call it mindfulness or awareness. My practice is to observe without judging myself, which is not always so easy. This habit of observation began as a child, then an adolescent, sometimes being in environments that didn’t feel safe. I learned to pay a lot of attention to my surroundings. What began as a coping mechanism has morphed into a practice that serves me well. I practice choosing how to respond, and I do pretty well with circumstances, it’s the feelings that sometimes trip me up.
Recently I took a couple of short trips. Despite my efforts to fully embrace this expression about taking yourself with you, there was a part of my mind thinking it could tip-toe around the corner where I couldn’t see it and look for a different outcome. You might be surprised what the mind can get up to when you are focused elsewhere.
Being “Positive,” or Being “Negative,” Both Are Judgments
I went to Texas thinking I would luck-out and escape the snow here in Colorado. The weather dropped from 80 to 40 the day I arrived with humidity at around 80% making it chilly indeed. While it did get warmer, it never stopped raining. The weather was not a deterrent to having a good time, but I noticed that I was complaining and judgment ensued.
I also spent a week in Florida recently and had a wonderful time at a friend’s wedding. In both these recent trips, there were some small things I had hoped for which were not forthcoming. The fact that I focused on those things threw me off. That little bit of judgment, “you shouldn’t be disappointed,” was all it took to create an imbalance. The upside is this, in taking myself along, I was able to uncover something. I was secretly thinking something like, “Oh boy, a vacation! Apparently, “vacation” paired in my mind with escape from the mundane. Good weather, fun, good food, fabulous adventures, lovely, happy people, in other words, a preponderance of positive experiences. And yes, many of those were available despite unpredictable weather, rental car drama, gastrointestinal ups, and downs, etc. I came back thinking about those things when I could have chosen to think more about all the beautiful, one-of-a-kind moments. Again, judgment is the differential. When a thought catches your attention remember, it’s just a thought. Allow yourself to move on to the next moment, focusing on the thought holds you in the past. Thinking it should be positive, or should not be negative is a subtle trick of the mind, a judgment toward oneself. A thought is a thought, we can choose to make it a thing or let it go.
It’s Not Circumstances That Make Us Happy
What you focus on is what you get, true enough. But it’s the habitual thought that attracts not the fleeting thought. If you begin complaining about the weather, then you diagnose yourself as irritable or disappointed you’ve compounded the thought with a judgment of yourself. If you focus on how remarkably green and abundant everything is even in the rain and breathe into the enjoyment of that there you are. The key is allowing yourself to keep moving from one moment to the next letting go as you progress forward.
There was a discrepancy between my view of everyday life and vacation life. We tend to assume one is meant to be better than the other simply by circumstance. If we create our reality here and now, then there is no “other” place or time. Leaving joyful experience to chance or circumstance is a risk. You are probably responding to circumstances as if they occur first, before your state of consciousness. Huh? Yep, here’s what I’m postulating, observation without judgment is pleasant in and of itself because our natural well-being arises when we are not throwing judgment in the way. This heightened state of awareness occurs first and from there you create the, “Oh my, look at the rainbow!” We assume it’s the other way round. The rainbow, the party, the beloved, the fantastic job offer, these things happen, and as a result, we become happy, right? Nope, I’m not finding that to be the case. Have you ever had the experience of anticipating a longed-for event and then feeling less than excited by the actual result? That is a perfect example of how we assume the event or circumstance is meant to make us happy. When it doesn’t we feel bad, often becoming critical of ourselves or others. Now take it a step further. You notice the outcome doesn’t “make you happy” and you just watch that thought pass. Without judgment, you release any attachment to how it was supposed to make you feel and voilà, you’re on to the next moment without getting derailed emotionally.
I took my self with me on my little holidays and because of a belief involving reality versus vacation, my expectations generated a sense of let-down. There is nothing wrong with that. Noticing a “negative feeling,” you move on to look for something more pleasing to observe. So next time you travel, be sure to take yourself along and be kind to yourself in whatever you notice.