Good morning from South Africa! I’ve been here for about a week now and so far my trip has been great. It’s funny how I knew I was going to have to approach this topic at some point while abroad, and only a week in, it’s already gotten to me; coping with the feeling of being uncomfortable. The statement alone is foolish. How can I be in a brand new place, having brand new experiences, surrounded by optimal beauty and still find something to grumble about? Lucky for me, I created the “no judgement space” for myself a long time ago. This way I can mindfully examine my bad habits and “foolish” thinking from a viewpoint of self-study as opposed to self-hate. I encourage you to do the same.
In this instance, when I looked at myself feeling grumpy over a (not-so) dirty bathroom or the lack of my usual comforts, I found that it all came down to three things.
As mindful seekers we strive to release our reliance on material items to provide happiness. I do yoga and meditate and take a mindful approach to life, yet as hard as I try, I still find that material items bring me a feeling of success which in turn gives me a feeling of happiness.
How do you live in a modern world and still renounce material happiness? It’s a balance I struggle with and write about a lot. My first suggestion is to truly give yourself the space to recognize just how much you actually do rely on what’s around to make you happy. It’s easy to brush your material reliance off, just as I did above, but when you take yourself out of the traditional comforts, if even for a day, you give yourself the space to be thoughtful and reflect.
I feel comfortable, uncomfortable, happy, sad, grumpy, mad. We feel something, we label it, and then we identify with that feeling until the next one comes along. That routine cycles from sunrise to sundown every day. The importance that we place on our feelings is a gift we have only now in a modern world. From day to day our focus has shifted away from survival of the body and turned instead to attention to the mind. Just like in meditation when you notice a thought and let it pass, try that technique with your feelings.
The Big G.
This word is thrown around a lot in the name of being mindful but it’s true, it all comes down to “the big g”. Gratitude. For the material things that bring us happiness and the space we have to reflect, now and always, gratitude.
As I continue along with my trip, I give myself the task of remembering the three lessons above. I am off for more travel now, this week we are taking to the ocean for some shark expeditions! I am sure I will be comfortable and uncomfortable in times, but most importantly, I will try just to be.