mindfulness as an antidote for disappointment

A not insignificant benefit of mindfulness I have noticed: when we are not mindful, our habitual mind seems to be almost-constantly making “micro-plans” … “I’d like to do get time in the garden today”, “I need to put air in the tyres later”, “I really should make sure I blah blah blah”, and because this is happening a mile a minute, soon enough (sometimes within five minutes of waking) our mind has made plans on our behalf and our day is loaded with the dreaded expectation; because we could never achieve the myriad things we imagine every five seconds, this mindless planning is an automated way of setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment, our day resulting in ten thousand micro-dissatisfactions, which accumulate over a lifetime.

One way of defining “dukkah” that isn’t as frightful and extremist as suffering is dissatisfaction, or maybe disappointment: we expected that hedonic pleasure would be satisfying in away that it usually isn’t, and then we are disappointed. Samsara, being characterised by dukkah, is inherently dissatisfying if we aren’t mindful of the way our habituated and conditioned mind creates all these micro-expectations for us.

When we cultivate mindfulness on the cushion, we begin to notice ourselves creating these expectations throughout the day and it becomes easier to keep them in check.

If we have to be dualist and say that nirvana, being the “opposite” of samsara, is a state of being satisfied with what is, then it may not be hyperbole to say that by cultivating mindfulness we place ourselves in more-consistent alignment with a lived experience of nirvana which, after all, is not some other place we need to get to in time or space but more like a way of perceiving correctly where we’re already at.

By enjoying this place without loading ourselves up with expectations, we experience an abiding state of enoughness and are free to do what we can without aspiring to do what we can’t.

more enoughness ;)

A reader liked an old post today, “on self-esteem as a precursor for achievement …” and it showed me there is a theme running through my thoughts about enoughness, which I wrote about yesterday.

Societal expectations drive a lot of us to be always achieving, never satisfied to just exist and accept ourselves for our inherent worth. Our self-esteem is dependent upon achievement.

I think it’s essential we question the narratives telling us we need to achieve more — always more, never enough.

What is your enough? Do we need more enoughness 😉

What would your life look like if achievement was just something you did for fun? Because you didn’t need to achieve to just feel good about yourself.

enoughness

My affirmation for today is that I am enough.

That should be enough said, but we all know I like to get a bit long-winded.

It is enough to just be a kind and present observer in and of the world, a being that brings laughter and lightness and other authentic qualities to their experience and to that of those around them. Or to be a kind and present observer who is grouchy. We don’t need to add or subtract anything from ourselves to be worthy of joy, happiness and love.

This doesn’t mean that we don’t do. Just being is not enough.

Is that a paradox? I don’t think so.

It just means that from our place of being enough, everything else we do comes with ease, is additional, expectation free.

It means that whatever I do today it’s because I choose to add this to my already-enoughness. It also means that if something gets in the way of what I want it doesn’t matter because I am already enough without getting to the thing I wanted.

Alan Watts has a nice quote about this:

photo by Felix Mittermeier