There may be a Christmas shopping frenzy outside your front door but will any of that ‘stuff’ that’s for sale make you feel better about your life and yourself? Not in the way that changing your focus to look inwards and find the real you will, writes Mahesh Hayward, who this week offers us a simple meditation exercise to get started on a new path to happiness...
How many of the objects that you own do you really love? And do they love you back? Was the purpose of the object to serve you in some way - for example your phone, or car, maybe the kettle you use every day without a thought? Is the key to happiness the things, we own, and can we really buy our way to fulfilment?
Guess what? My answer is a big fat NO!
How we spend our lives now is all about the labels we put on ourselves and the ones we carry and wear on our bodies. My rucksack will scream hippy to you as it’s a material Aztec-design one with bright colours on it and has the Om sign stitched across the front. Am I trying to tell the world who I am with my bag and more to the point what I have in my bank account?
We work hard all month to receive money to spend on stuff in a house we leave every day for 10 hours just to come home and ignore everything, apart from our laptop or TV. When we do get paid the first thing we do is open our online account to our fave shop and buy more stuff we don’t need, often as a reward to ourselves for working so hard so that we can pay for it.
Let’s not be too hard on ourselves though. We can make a purchase here and there to brighten up our week, month or year, but is that really the end goal ... to fill your home with so much stuff you’re ecstatic? Do we all desire a home full of stuf?f And once it is we then become a fulfilled human being? Are you now on Rightmove right now looking for another bedroom to fill up?
I always thought that only rich people said ‘money isn’t everything.’ I mean if you’re financial and material goals have been meet or even exceeded then money isn’t everything, but there are people living a very basic life who would use the same phrase. These people are called “Happy “or “Content “because they have looked not just beyond the shopping centre but in a completely different direction - they have turned their outlook inwards.
That’s right - you don’t need a pair of binoculars to see beyond and you don’t even need to be in a mansion or castle to find what will make you a happy and well-rounded person. Turn your eyes inwards (not physically) but close them and listen to the heartbeat of your own body.
If you can please take a moment, if you’re reading this at a desk or on the bus or in your own home just take a moment and humour me by trying the following practice:
1. Sit up nice and straight if you can, with your hands on the lap. If you can sit on the floor with the legs crossed even better.
2. Soften your jaw, and relax the shoulders for me now.
3. Just breath through the nose and try to soften the belly; that’s it... just relax the tummy. It’s ok, nobody knows what you’re doing.
4. Now, you’re going to take a lovely long inhale and fill up your body - hold for a count of three in your head and release the breath out of the mouth.
5. Did you feel your whole body respond to the simple breath? Good. Now, just for the count of 30, close your eyes and just listen to your inhale and exhale through the nostrils.
This my friends is called meditation, and learning to listen to your own body and heart. This is the place to visit when you need a moment before you make that next purchase when looking for that happy fix.
Ask the real you the inner you “Do I need this to make me a happier person?
Just 30 seconds of breathing and sitting with your own breath can make you more considered in your actions. Now when you chose not to make that purchase take the money out of your account and put it into your savings. If you don’t have savings, you’ve just started!
Use this technique too when you are feeling uptight or someone has ruffled your feathers a little. Take yourself off... just to sit. Go off to the loo and for a moment breathe with the thought of kindness; believe me this is the stuff that really works.
The point I’m trying to make is that all the material goods in your life mean nothing if you can’t just sit with yourself for a few seconds without looking at a phone or email. Be aware that if every object you own was taken away from you right now you are still YOU. It could all go and it wouldn’t change the true, authenic you.
Attachment to your inner self will take you to a nicer place than any attachment to material goods. No one can take your inner peace away from you - this is your space to fill with happiness and love for you, because you matter.
Please take a moment for yourself each day; love you as you want to be loved by others and remember to give a stranger a smile today.
Be well and blessings to you all, my dear friends.
Mahesh Hayward is a regular Lush Life columnist writing about Modern Living and Well-being