Imagine. You shake off the day’s stresses and sit. Quietly. At peace. Yes, it’s possible and not only that, it’s easy. Believe it or not, living mindfully — happy and at peace in the now — is actually your natural state, hidden beneath all the conditioning of a lifetime. At least that’s what Zen teacher Stephan Bodian says. He wrote the book Beyond Mindfulness, and knows the unparalleled psychological and health benefits of living in the moment. And he’s sharing. Happiness is something you already have, can discover, and develop, not something out there in the distant future that you need to work to achieve. But beware the witnessing trap — where you become adept at doing mindfulness but struggle to live in a spontaneous, intimate way. Instead, live it by finding small ways to be present in your present and find acceptance and appreciation where you’re at. Right now.
To achieve this natural state of relaxed openness, spontaneity and ease, try these guided meditations. They’re designed to help you reach a state of awakened awareness.
Ohm. It’s going to feel so good.
MINDFULNESS: 8 KEYS TO LIVING IN THE MOMENT
1. Rest in the stillness Beneath all the drama lies the ground of being that’s eternally awake and undisturbed by the ups and downs of life. Connect with it directly.
2. Discover the I AM Prior to all the identities — I am smart/stupid, I am loveable/unloveable, I am attractive/unattractive — lies the simple declaration I am. Follow this statement back to its source.
3. Let it be You don’t need to manipulate the mind in order to induce some special experience. In true meditation, you welcome everything just as it is and lay bare your naturally enlightened state of openness and ease.
4. Experience the inherent perfection Without consulting your thoughts, ask yourself, Is anything missing from this moment right now? What you find may be a revelation.
5. Rest in the gaps between thoughts The mind is filled with thoughts and feelings. But every now and then, a natural pause or gap appears that effortlessly reveals an inner spaciousness. Practice resting in the gap.
6. Dissolve the boundaries of the body We often assume the body stops at the skin, but this is just an arbitrary distinction. The body is actually boundless and includes everything.
7. Realize that the separate self is just a construct If you look closely at what you take yourself to be, you’ll find a collection of stories, memories, thoughts and beliefs, without any abiding substance. See through the self-construct, and let your suffering go.
8. Ask yourself who you are Who is experiencing this moment right now? You say, I think, I feel, I see, I know but who is this I you refer to? It can’t be the body or the brain, because those can be the objects of experience and so can’t be the experiencer. If you can the answer this question, you’ll free yourself from the burden of a lifetime.
Ordained as a Zen monk in 1974, Stephan Bodian is a licensed psychotherapist as well as a spiritual teacher who has created a vibrant, intimate approach to counselling and mentoring that blends psychological insight and spiritual realization. For more guidance on living in the now, check out his book Beyond Mindfulness.