Experience Yourself

During the half hour drive home from Wayne, Nebraska Thursday afternoon, I didn’t remember riding over a somewhat tricky curve in the road. It is somewhat hazardous because it is much sharper than most curves, it’s on an upgrade, it divides a farm property, and the highway intersects in the middle of the curve with a graveled county road.

This was unnerving because I must not have been paying full attention to that outmoded, dangerous stretch of highway. Even though I’ve driven on that portion of highway hundreds of times, maybe a thousand times, I’ve always paid careful attention to that curve. That is, until Thursday.

We might say that our lives are made up of our many experiences. Sometimes we fully experience an important event such as going on a date, or attending the funeral of a close loved one. Much of the time we only experience events very superficially, like performing routine tasks while our minds are thinking about other things.

When we pay attention to what we are experiencing, we not only do what we’re doing better, we might live each moment more profoundly. We can choose not to be automatons, but more fully human. This is the essence of the popular mindfulness movement in society.

Being mindful of one’s own actions, feelings, and sensations can be more tricky than we might think. A person needs to find a healthy balance between paying close attention to oneself and to what is going on outside of oneself. Could too much inner questioning lead to symptoms of hypochondria, and self-centered behavior? This question is a paradox because one must inquire within even more in order to answer it.

Sometimes it’s best not to pay too close of attention to the details of the present moment. Paying rapt attention to every single, sound, smell, and sight can be a distraction when driving a motor vehicle. These sensations are kept in the background while one’s attention is focused on the highway conditions, other vehicles, and watching out for dangerous surprises. When driving, it is best to just drive.

In the same way, all of us become distracted from the business of living. Our minds flit from one thought to another while we go about our daily routines. If we want to experience our selves, we can pay attention to what we think when we go about our day. Notice how we interact with people. What do we think when in the company of friends and family? What goes on in the mind when meeting a new acquaintance for the first time?

When outdoors, do we only notice that the air is very hot or very cold or if there is precipitation? Do we pause to hear the traffic on the street, the birds in the trees, and smell the odors in the air?

Some of us need a little reminder to pay attention to our lives. I activated the hourly beep on my wristwatch. At least once per hour, I’m brought back to the present moment by that gentle reminder. The hourly beep is a tiny version of the gongs that are used in monasteries to remind monks and nuns to pay attention to the moment.

An effective way to experience yourself is to set aside some time to decompress and meditate. There’s no need to sit in formal meditation during that time unless that is what works best for you. While decompressing, we can let go of our judgments and opinions for awhile. We can pay attention to if we feel tense, angry, belligerent, indifferent, sad, happy, or joyful. Notice the thoughts and let them go. Just breathe and notice what is going on around you. Pay attention to what this does to you.

Happiness isn’t what you think it is. It is simply experiencing who you are.

The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes your life is deepened every day by fully experiencing yourself.

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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