Us humans love to think we’ve got this thing under control. We love to think we know how things work. We love to think we know that if you do this and this, you get that.
But that’s not how it works. Not how it works, at all.
We so badly want to feel that we’ve got this; that we’re in control of this little - infinitely masoooof - thing called Life.
We do our damnedest to convince ourselves that if we work really hard at doing life ‘right’; managing our thinking right, making the right decisions, making the right parenting choices, we’ll keep whatever it is we’re afraid of: death, shame, ‘failure’, at bay.
We really (like to) believe life works like that.
I too have been caught up in the idea that I can bend life to my whim in that way: if I pay attention, learn from my mistakes, if I notice what works and what doesn’t, I can slowly find a way to an easier, nicer way of doing life.
That way of living builds expectations, which - when you look carefully - get dashed all the time.
An extreme example of this is someone lamenting on hearing about a cancer, or death of a loved one: ‘But…., I did everything right, I was a good person, I tried to do the right thing by people all my life, and THIS happens…?
I found myself commenting to a friend yesterday that when I wake up in a bad mood, noticing I’m in a bad mood often helps shake me out of it.
But on more exploration I realized that actually some days I’ll notice I’m in a bad mood, and I head into a worse mood, or my mood stays the same, or it improves. There is no predictability. There is no cause and effect.
This kind of blew my mind as I realized I’d been playing the age-old game humans like to play of looking for ‘reasons’ why things happen to help explain our experience:
‘You do this, you get that, you do that you get this.’
IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT (shouty capital letters for my own benefit …)
THERE IS NO CAUSATION between something you do, or something someone says to you, and how you feel as a result.
Meditation does not make you feel a certain way.
Chocolate cake does not make you feel a certain way.
Think about it: sometimes you meditate and you feel amazing afterwards, other days you feel the same, other days you feel worse. Same with chocolate cake: sometimes you LOVE the experience of eating it, sometimes you feel guilty, sometimes you don’t have an opinion – you’re too busy nattering or watching Netflix to notice.
What determines how we feel in any moment is energy.
The formless energy which moves through us, animates us, keeps us breathing and our hearts beating. It’s the ebb and flow of that energy which gives us our experience. And WE do NOT control that.
(If you really want to get into it: there is no ‘we’ because we are that energy - non-duality, oneness and all that jazz.).
Human beings DO NOT have the capacity to change their feeling state at will.
Which is super good news, if you’re up for it, because it means we can let go of trying to manage life to make us feel a certain way.
Because it just doesn’t work like that.
Take that news to heart and (in my experience) two things happen:
- Your mind gets kind of blown apart
- You can sit back and enjoy the thrill-ride.
So watch yourself meditate, or not meditate. Eat the chocolate, or not eat the chocolate.
There is no holy grail to feeling the way you want to feel.
All you ever feel is the flavor of energy moving through you, moment to moment to moment.