Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The contemplative attitude

Happiness is an inside job. That's often hard for people to accept because we are easily conditioned to believe that if only we could change our outward circumstances we would be happier. Jon Kabat-Zinn speaks to this in his book, Wherever You Go There You Are:

Dwelling inwardly for extended periods, we come to know something of the poverty of always looking outside ourselves for happiness, understanding, and wisdom. It's not that God, the environment, and other people cannot help us to be happy or to find satisfaction. It's just that our happiness, satisfaction, and our understanding, even of God, will be no deeper than our capacity to know ourselves inwardly, to encounter the outer world from the deep comfort that comes from being at home in one's own skin, from an intimate familiarity with the ways of one's own mind and body.

Dwelling in stillness and looking inward for some part of each day, we touch what is most real and reliable in ourselves and most easily overlooked and undeveloped. When we can be centered in ourselves, even for brief periods of time in the face of the pull of the outer world, not having to look elsewhere for something to fill us up or make us happy, we can be at home wherever we find ourselves, at peace with things as they are, moment by moment.

This is so true. It's the reason I really value taking a meditation break during my day - especially when things get hectic. Through meditation I always know that I can "touch what is most real and reliable" in myself.

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