Hide and Seek: The Power of Awareness
Discovering True Contentment
Several years ago, I was tasked with speaking to a troubled teenager grappling with anger, drug use, and constant conflict. Part way through the conversation, I asked him a simple question, “Would you like to explore ways to find peace of mind?” He responded with unexpected candor, “I don’t want peace. I want the rush.”
Often, the allure of instant pleasure outshines the path to what is beneficial to attain lasting fulfillment. Vice can seem more enticing than virtue, and distractions offer quicker relief than resolution. It’s easier to bury our inner turmoil than to confront it head-on.
We’ve grown accustomed to the notion that we can sidestep our internal struggles through distraction. We reach for drinks, drugs, binge-watching, social media, and using our smartphones as constant companions. The pursuit of excitement and pleasure, the quest for new sources of entertainment and stimulation, have become second nature. Distraction has become our escape from introspection and Self-discovery.
Moreover, we’ve been conditioned to believe that external circumstances hold the key to our happiness. We’ve been led to think that desires fulfilled and approval and inclusion will quell our anxiety, pain, and fear. Our response to anxiety has become escapism, diverting our attention with distractions and fueling our yearning for desires.
Every moment presents a choice, a crossroads between the quick fix and long-term resolution – the rush or serenity, the effortless distraction or dedicated effort, personal gain or selfless giving. We decide, consciously or habitually, whether peace of mind, contentment, joy, and thriving are worth our commitment. It’s not an easy or automatic choice, as conditioned responses often lead us towards temporary relief rather than lasting contentment.
Contentment is a state of tranquil acceptance, a satisfaction with the present moment. However, it’s rarely a state we encounter. When asked, “How are you?” common authentic responses include exhausted, frustrated, angry, stressed, and sad. “Blissfully content” seldom finds its way into the conversation.
Genuine contentment remains elusive for most. Even when we acquire what we desire, even when external circumstances are peaceful, our internal landscape often remains fraught with mental chatter, unresolved feelings, and persistent worries. The majority of us have seldom experienced true contentment. We may accumulate all we wish for and employ endless distractions, but our minds remain unsatisfied.
Distractions only lead to greater exhaustion and pain, while desires with attachment breed anger. Both offer temporary relief to symptoms but fail to address the root cause of our discontent. Both contribute to the turbulence of our minds. Our chosen mode of existence, marked by distraction and desire, results in a mind teeming with anger, sadness, frustration, and ceaseless thoughts.
The closest many of us come to contentment are fleeting moments of relief and pleasure through a distraction or the fulfillment of a desire. This is why we cling to distractions, desires, and expectations. But the satisfaction of pleasure, the thrill of triumph, and the joy of acquisition are swiftly replaced by the relentless tide of thoughts and discordant emotions. When asked if we want peace of mind, we turn to our conditioning and habits and say, “No, I want the rush, the pleasure, the distraction.” We choose the pleasurable over the beneficial, distraction and desire over resolution and realization. It isn’t easy to persevere along the path to contentment when our plates feel half-empty, and we yearn for love, sufficiency, relief, and external validation.
Contentment is often misconstrued as a fleeting moment of calm, a respite from the chaos, or a brief interlude of pleasant thoughts. Contentment is, in fact, realizing that we are consciousness, the essence of life, and allowing life to fully express itself through us. Contentment is recognizing and expressing the Self. It embodies boundless bliss, intelligence, and power. This profound understanding is far removed from distractions, rushes, acquisitions, or relationships – it’s an idea we can barely fathom.
To fully experience this realization, our commitment, resolution and balance are indispensable. Pleasures, triumphs and excitements don’t need to be forsaken; they should be balanced. Contentment unfolds gradually, one step at a time, as we work toward resolution and realization. Shedding our conditioned belief that desires, attachments, and outcomes hold the key to our fulfillment is challenging. It’s arduous to confront and accept when we encounter resistance.
Contentment comprises both being and doing, stillness and activity. It emerges when our minds consciously connect with the wellspring of pure awareness while expressing the energy and intelligence inherent in the Self. Achieving contentment necessitates a solid inner foundation of Self-awareness and the well-being derived from the creative, outward, selfless expression of our wisdom and power. Contentment is the realization of the Self and the joy of its creative expression, a state where we experience 200% of life. This is the purpose of life.
Peace of mind is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Every thought witnessed, every feeling accepted, and every inner conflict resolved contribute to peace of mind. Each step we take towards peace of mind increases our well-being and reduces our restlessness. Peace of mind fosters an inner atmosphere conducive to the experience of stillness. Once peace of mind is attained, stillness becomes a tangible possibility.
Stillness represents a mind at rest, a serene sanctuary where thoughts cease their relentless chatter. It is a state of heightened awareness devoid of the tumultuous fluctuations of the mental realm. When the mind achieves stillness, it unveils the essence of our existence – pure awareness, pure being, pure presence. This is the authentic Self, the very source from which all mental activity emanates. Life, in all its grandeur, continually guides us towards this expanded awareness of the Self, an enlightenment and realization of our true nature.
Within stillness, we encounter a realm of boundless potential, a fertile ground where all intelligence and power converge. It stands as the source from which manifestations flow. It is the very bedrock upon which contentment finds its foundation.
Life is inherently dynamic, characterized by perpetual change, constant evolution towards greater well-being. Contentment, a state of inner peace and acceptance, remains unattainable in a realm of entropy or quiescence. True contentment flourishes only when creative intelligence courses through our thoughts and actions.
Life incessantly weaves a tapestry of creation, maintenance, and destruction, forever advancing towards greater states of being. When we harmonize with this rhythmic dance of life, contentment thrives. The flow of our creative intelligence perpetually generates, uncovers, innovates, discovers, invents, and advances. It ensures the sustenance and expansion of life, supplying the essentials for thriving while perpetually seeking better ways to support existence. The old must yield to the new, the past must make way for the future, and through this natural process of creation, maintenance, and destruction, contentment emerges as we align ourselves with life’s vibrant symphony.
Our expressions can take on negative, neutral, or positive forms. Yet, when we express ourselves selflessly, with the genuine intention to alleviate suffering and unveil wisdom, we align ourselves with the very purpose of creation, thus nurturing the blossoming of contentment.
To embrace contentment, we must abstain from forging new, negative impressions. We must fashion thoughts, words, and actions characterized by neutrality or positivity. We must aspire to the loftiest thoughts, engage in benevolent actions, and shun malevolence.
Contentment can be unveiled incrementally, one day at a time, one compassionate thought at a time, one benevolent action at a time, one practice at a time, one acceptance at a time, and one realization at a time.
Our external life is always unfolding within the pairs of opposites. Our external life will never unfold in a way most people feel is perfect. There will always be pleasure and pain, success and failure. Yet contentment is not about only having pleasure and success. It is living with an internal foundation that is peaceful and blissful and allowing and accepting external outcomes without attachment while being the conduit for our internal love, joy, compassion and kindness to manifest in the world.
When we live life to the fullest, we unearth the purpose of our existence. Our minds attain a sense of fulfillment when we apprehend the Self and allow its creative intelligence to flow unrestricted. Bliss is not merely realized but is expansively experienced through the expression that is our life. The balance of Self-realization and selfless expression begets genuine contentment.