We live in a culture where the pursuit of pleasure is alive and flourishing. We work hard and we seek relief and escape that we find in many different ways, many pleasurable ways.
For some, pleasure is defined as freedom from work, unstructured time, travel, leisure activities, not following a proscribed plan, or leaving responsibilities behind.
Pleasure can be seen as an escape from:
- our responsibilities (recreating rather than working)
- things that are “good” for us (eating chocolate rather than a salad) or
- things that benefit us (taking a day off from exercising).
We many see exercise or meditation in this way, activities that we “should” do.
For many years I struggled in my meditation practice. I struggled because I believed that meditation should be a way to free my mind of thoughts and I should enter a state of bliss. My meditations were not like that.
Rather than a quiet mind, my sitting meditations consisted of list-making, obsessive thinking and attempting to follow a structure, like counting breaths, letting go of thoughts, and putting thoughts aside until the meditation was finished.
Those forms of meditation were not helpful for me. I felt frustrated and I felt as though I had failed to meditate correctly.
I started thinking about mindfulness and how to apply it in my daily life. As I practiced mindfulness off the cushion, my intuition told me it was a form of meditation that suited me. I instinctively knew that I would benefit by practicing mindfulness, that I would learn about myself and become more aware, kinder, more honest and more generous to myself and others.
Then I read a comment about mindfulness that helped me to commit to this practice without feeling like I should do it but rather I want to do it. I read that mindfulness is pleasurable in itself, and I found it to be true.
Tasks previously considered mundane, repetitive or unimportant, when done mindfully, became pleasurable. Sitting with a friend is pleasurable. Driving to work early in the morning became pleasurable. Even sitting in meetings, when mindful, became pleasurable.
Mindfulness, being fully in the present moment, giving full attention to what I do is truly pleasurable. Mindlessness, running on automatic pilot, doing one thing and wishing to do something else or be somewhere else is the opposite of pleasurable.
Being a person who loves pleasure, and experiencing the pleasure of mindfulness made the practice something I wanted to commit to and has become a way of life for me. When I am mindful, I am living life fully, in the present moment and even during difficult times, I see beauty, blessings and wisdom that is always present.
When I am mindful, my mind is quiet and my heart is open and I find great pleasure in that. I wish the same for you.
I found that once I became the observer of the thoughts, I wanted to see and was able to let them go. Shoulds and musts never worked for me as I instantly resisted the task. Not a good frame of mind for meditation.
Great post! Thanks for sharing. I have had a nice holiday-“escape” over the last few days, but now I am back to regular routines and it feels good. I enjoy the routines, because when I get the occasional “escape”, I enjoy it even more. Happy New Year!