5 Habits for Everyday Enlightenment
Enlightenment is a big word. It conjures images of sitting under a tree, renouncing your family, going to a monastery or living in a cave. None of these options look very attractive or practical in today’s world. How can you become enlightened while tending to your busy life? And, why should you even bother with Enlightenment?
Why seek Enlightenment?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I truly happy?
- Do I feel free?
- Am I relaxed in every situation?
- Do I feel contentment?
- Am I whole?
If there is room for improvement, then Enlightenment is your path. Seeking Enlightenment is a process that eliminates unconscious attitudes and behaviors that make you feel bad and creates lightness, freedom and happiness.
It is also the next frontier.
Once you have your house, your family, your career, your riches, what is next? The next step according to Maslow (see the hierarchy of needs ) for people in the Western world is Self-Actualization. Personal development while attending to our worldly business. The path to Enlightenment takes this development to an even higher level, from personal (Ego-based) to spiritual (beyond Ego).
How do you become Enlightened?
The fastest way to become Enlightened is to spend time in meditation.
However, meditation takes time and in the Western world we live a fast-paced life, we have much to do, people to meet and places to go to. For most of us there is no way that we could take time off and withdraw from the daily business solely for the purpose of becoming Enlightened. But, is it really necessary to withdraw from daily business?
In five thousand years there have been millions of monks and nuns, but how many have become enlightened, realized souls? Not that many. This means that completely withdrawing from daily life is not a prerequisite to becoming Enlightened.
What is necessary, is a commitment to your own evolution and to your own happiness.
Everyday Enlightenment for people with no time to meditate
The best way to move forward is to turn inward.
Here are five powerful habits that will help you do just that:
1. Make yourself the object of observation
Watch what you do, think, feel and experience. Observe that you are a person who is thinking, feeling and experiencing the whole day through. In the act of observation awareness arises. Awareness about your habits, personality traits and quirkiness. But also awareness that you can observe from a position that is not identified with the daily experiences. That there is a silent witness in you. This witness is beyond Ego, non-judgemental, even peaceful.
The key point to understand is that meditation is about observation, observing whatever is happening inside and out, no matter what is going on. At home, at work, in the morning, in the evening. there is always something for the observer to watch.
2. Realize that the self is not fixed
In the act of witnessing you will see that your personality is ever changing. You change over time and your actions today have an effect on who you are tomorrow. Experiments have shown that if you put on a long face for 3 days, you make yourself thoroughly depressed. You are a self-creating phenomenon, you create yourself, moment to moment, as you go along through life. As you realize this, you become conscious that you have choices. What you think, say and do determine who you will be.
3. Don’t fight old habits
Habits are sort of hardwired in our brain. When you are a smoker, just the thought of taking a break will trigger an automatic search for a cigaret and lighter. That is because the neurons that are related to taking a break are wired with the neurons that signal smoke a cigaret. What fires together, wires together. Now, if you want to quit this habit, it is no use to fight the urges. The neurons of the new thought “I must not smoke” will wire together with the old neurons and actually strengthen the old neuronetwork.
If supporting or fighting a habit both strengthen the neural networks, then your only option in breaking with a habit is to do neither. This is what Buddha referred to as ‘choiceless awareness’: do nothing, neither for, nor against.
This is the essence of meditation. If you can see an unconscious habit with full awareness, it will fall away by itself and create a lightness and freedom in its place.
To be choiceless is to be blissful.
4. Develop an attentive kind of attitude
You may look at a flower and think you are looking at a flower. The moment you started thinking about the flower you have moved your attention away from the flower. You moved your attention to your thoughts. That means you are no longer present with the flower and you will miss its essence.
True attention means that when you are looking at a flower, you are looking at a flower and not doing anything else. It is as if the mind has stopped, as if there is no thinking, just the experience of you and the flower. Attention means a silent awareness with no thoughts interfering.
5. The world is your play
When you take the world very seriously, you cannot really be happy. Seriousness creates unhappiness.
Happiness happens when you are grounded in the attitude that the world is just a play and everyone is playing a role. By observing the roles and your own role in it, you slowly disengage from the drama.
You will find that you’ll laugh at situations where before you got angry. You will find peace in chaos where before you were overwhelmed and irritated.
You withdraw from the world into your self, your sanctuary, your temple. You play your role efficiently, but you are no longer disturbed by it. You are in the world, but not of the world.