You can be happy, right here, right now.
It is possible to summon a feeling of joy in every single moment, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
And if it is possible to consciously create a joyful moment, doesn’t it then follow that you can bring that practice that to every moment and create a joyful life?
Yes, it does! Keep reading to find out how.
Chanting and Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all the rage at the moment, with thousands of people adopting the ancient Eastern Buddhist wisdom which has been popularized in recent years. The gist of the teaching is to bring your awareness to the present moment, to observe your breathing, your body, your thoughts, your surroundings, without judgement. This brings your attention away from the distracting and often stress-inducing thoughts running around your mind, by focusing on nothing more than the present moment.
While there are many mindfulness courses, books and recordings now available, I have found that chanting nam myoho renge kyo brings about a natural state of mindfulness.
Mindfulness allows us to watch our thoughts, see how one thought leads to the next, decide if we’re heading toward an unhealthy path, and if so, let go and change directions. It allows us to see that who we are is much more than a fearful or envious or angry thought.
– Sharon Salzberg, Tricycle Magazine
A few years ago, there was a person in my life who was being unkind and had been making me unhappy. After I started regularly chanting nam myoho renge kyo, I found that I became naturally better able to observe my own thoughts and emotions towards him, to notice that his very presence brought up feelings of anger and upset within me – and best of all, to consciously change my attitude towards him to one of compassion. Compassion towards him for whatever was going on in his own life that caused him to treat others around him so badly. The chanting practice and resulting mindful attitude enabled me to simply wish him well, send loving thoughts towards him in the hope that he would find whatever it was that was missing in his life – and ultimately then to move on from him and release myself from being the victim of my own reactions to him.
It is the mind’s chatter that tends to create suffering, while simply observing the chatter as it comes and goes, and being less identified with the precise content of the mind, gradually dissolves pain and stress.
– Vidyamala Burch & Danny Penman, Mindfulness for Health
Savour Every Sensation
Mindfulness is thus great for grounding yourself, reducing the stress brought about by your own uncontrolled thoughts, and bringing a sense of peace to everyday life. But you can even take it a step further, to not just shut down the mindless chatter of your brain, but to savour every sensation and make any moment one that is filled with joy. Right now, as I’m writing the first draft of this post, I’m sitting on a bus in Malaysia, travelling from the Cameron Highlands to Penang. I didn’t get enough sleep so I’m pretty tired. It’s a long and weary journey.
Yet the view outside the window is mostly green, topped with a bright blue sky. It is a delight to gaze at.
The gentle breeze from the overhead air vent delightfully complements the comfortable heat coming through the window beside me.
The seats on the bus recline very comfortably, but with ample leg room so you’re not imposing on anyone’s personal space (if only airplanes could have seats like this!)
Even the interior design of the bus is a calming blue with an abstract pattern you could lose yourself in, almost like lying on the grass looking for shapes in clouds.
These are examples from one moment, one place. You can imagine how much potential there is in every other moment, every other place! The comfort of the backrest of the chair you’re sitting in. The colour of the sky. The merging motions of the raindrops rolling down the windowpane. The softness of the sleeves you’re wearing. The stolen glances at that cute guy or girl on your commute. The refreshing breeze against your face.
This physical life we are living is a gift, a privilege. The human body is a miraculous machine with 100 billion nerve endings – take a moment to think about that. Our bodies were created to feel, to experience, and the world around us provides an endless variety of opportunities to see, listen, touch, feel, enjoy. Each sensation you choose to savour can summon that feeling of elation in the experience of simply existing in this life.
Where Should I Start?
For a truly effortless experience, start chanting nam myoho renge kyo on a daily basis. You could even try the 21 Day Challenge!
Then, simply pay attention. Practice shifting your focus to where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling. By doing this, you can not only become mindfully aware of the sensations of your body and your immediate surroundings, but you can also find something to take delight in!
Just as you would take the time to close your eyes and slowly savour every melting bite of a delicious dessert, bring your attention to all the feelings and flavours of life itself and savour every sensation to bring an endless supply of joy and happiness to your life 🙂