What comes to mind when you imagine the idea of enjoying this present moment? Most likely, the pictures that surface in your mind are images of what you think enjoyment or happiness is supposed to be. These are the typical images that your mind gives to you, based on how your mind has been influenced by media, by people, and by this modern world. These notions of idealized bliss are made-up — these bright and shiny faux images are merely symbols for happiness, but they are not real.
The person jumping up and down, shouting hooray, is not necessarily enjoying the moment. Rather, he or she is responding to something that seems to bring relief — the person just got a job they wanted, for example, or just received a much anticipated phone call. Well, those events are wonderful, but then what do you do in the ordinary circumstances that are more typical of daily life?
Are you supposed to behave as some positive-thinking trainings teach you to behave — as if you were a buoyantly happy cheerleader at a football game, yelling that you are having a wonderful time? That might generate a jolly spark or two for a moment, but it’s not real enjoyment. Unfortunately, such pumped-up efforts can only try to mimic happiness, and they may actually take you farther from true enjoyment. The simple reason for this is that deeper enjoyment is connected to awareness, and awareness is a subtle experience.
Awareness requires that you be present to what is actually happening in the moment, and this is why you can’t make yourself feel enjoyment. When you demand to feel good, you are making your emotions jump through a hoop like a trained seal. However, your emotions want to be charmed into enjoyment, and not forced into it. This is why the artificially happy behaviors of people who want to prove that they’re having a good time don’t generate real happiness.
But what if your immediate situation seems boring, unpleasant, or difficult? Wouldn’t you need to be hearing good news, or surrounded by symbols of success in order to enjoy the moment?
Actually, feeling good in the present moment requires your awareness of the world around you — as it is. When you are able to sense the world around you, then you can combine that outer awareness, of whatever you find there, with your inner awareness — and that combination can bring you to some delightful feelings.
The world around you, that you can see and hear, is the world that you experience with your five senses — sight, hearing, feeling, smell, and taste.
The world within you is the realm of your emotions, your thoughts, and of your subtle inner spiritual awareness. You might call it your imagination, or your inner sacred space; it is the realm of your divine soul.
With the power of your awareness, you can comfortably combine your sensing of the outer world with your inner feelings and thoughts. This combination doesn’t produce instant delight, however, because real enjoyment only takes place over time — it evolves. That means that if you demand to be happy or relaxed right now, you’re only creating tension. But why is it so important for you to be aware over a period of time?
The key is that each moment becomes magical when you are aware of how each moment evolves from the previous moment, and evolves again into the next moment.
This is the mysterious secret of consciousness — that the subtle shifting that happens from this moment to the next is only fascinating if you are actually present to experience it as it shifts and evolves — your consciousness is required. You can’t replace that moment-to-moment awareness with anything else. You can’t buy it, and you can’t force it. You just have to be present so that you can notice the subtle shifts as they happen.
But you are already experiencing each moment, aren’t you? After all, you’re there, in that moment, so why question whether you’re really experiencing it? Actually, when you’re trying to be happy, or trying not to be unhappy, then you aren’t really experiencing the subtle energy shifts — the fascinating ones — that are taking place now, moment by moment.
And when you aren’t experiencing the subtle shifts, then everything feels coarse and somewhat unpleasant. Or perhaps it seems somewhat unreal or flat. This begins to explain why so many people think they must find a special reason to be happy. This is why they have come to believe that happiness looks like jumping in the air while shouting hooray. They missed their deeper connection to enjoyment, and they thought they could substitute an emotional fireworks display.
Since real enjoyment looks nothing like what you expect it to be, this hints that enjoyment is a subtle art, to be discovered anew each day. This art, though it takes a bit of skill, is easy to experience, especially when you discover that you have the ingredients you need already within you. But will you use them?
Let’s explore how your awareness of the outer world combines with your awareness of your inner world. To start, here is a little meditation to discover the subtle elements of the world around you. This will help you get a sense of the vital power of your conscious moment-by-moment awareness.
Meditation to awaken your senses to the world around you:
- Notice the shapes of the objects around you. For example, the rectangular picture frame, the round clock, the cylindrical pencil, and so on, throughout the room. Do not judge them; just notice their shapes.
- Gently trace these shapes with your gaze, so that you really become aware of the designs within your environment. Don’t stare — just let yourself experience gentle focus as you explore the shapes.
- As you gently trace the shapes around you, gently breathe, so that you are aware of your body.
- First, notice the obvious sounds, such as a car horn, a telephone ringing, or a voice nearby. Next, notice the subtle sounds around you, such as a clock quietly ticking, the breeze flowing through a tree nearby, the quiet hissing of a heater or radiator, and quiet voices in another room.
- As you notice each sound, experience it as a sound vibration — without judging it. Imagine that you are cataloging the sounds in your environment, and experiencing them as rare examples of sound.
- As you experience the sounds, breathe gently into your body, and notice that you are experiencing the sounds — but you are not the sounds; you are still centered within yourself.
Deeper feeling or sensing:
- Notice the temperature of the room, and experience how the air feels on your skin.
- Discover how each object in the room, and each person present, has an aura, or vibe. It’s OK if it seems that you’re imagining this — let your imagination give you permission to sense the subtle realities that are present in your world.
- Let yourself notice your reactions to each aura in the room. Without judging yourself or anything in the room, discover if you can experience each vibe or aura as a phenomena of energy, rather than as a label or judgment.
- Notice the feel of the neighborhood. Each locale has its own feel, or specific quality of presence. You don’t have to put this in words — just experience it, and let yourself recognize the felt sense of that place.
Seeing, hearing, and feeling — integrating your senses:
- Gently notice what you see in the shapes, colors, and textures around you.
- As you look around you, include the sounds in your environment in your awareness.
- As you look and listen, gently include your felt sense, as if you are sensing the vibe or aura around you.
- Quietly shift from seeing, to hearing, to sensing. There is no one way to do this. Explore your senses one at a time, and also combined, in any creative way that you choose.
- Breathe gently and easily as you shift your sensory awareness from looking, to hearing, to sensing. Stay centered in your body, and keep breathing.
During this meditation, do you find that even though you are generally focusing on one sense or the other, your senses seem to combine into one large multi-sensory experience? You may find that your senses are working together, all helping you experience your environment with the deep realism of a close-up photograph — combined with a high quality audio recording — combined with the multifaceted sensory experience of a vividly rich environment, such as the forest or the ocean.
Your consciousness is the key
Now you have a deeper respect for your consciousness. You recognize that your awareness, from moment to moment, is aware of so many subtle things that transcend ordinary descriptions and judgments. The shape of the clock, when you experience it in the pure realm of shapes and colors, is expressing something to you. Not something specific like a poem, but something meaningful in a different way — it is the subtle-energy world of the clock, expressing itself. And this sharing process takes place, whether or not you personally enjoy the design or the sound of the clock.
Why is this little meditation so important to your discovery of how to enjoy this moment?
If enjoyment required the perfect situation, then you might have to wait forever. And if you could produce instant enjoyment by shouting that you are having a great day, then you would generate the superficial kind of enjoyment that only lives on the surface of reality. This meditation helps you open the door to a refined inner experience of genuine enjoyment.
Enjoyment is not something that has any particular appearance, so it isn’t obvious. It is not something that sounds a particular way. And it is not a dramatic expression that promotes its own happiness. This is the beautiful paradox — that your real enjoyment becomes stronger when you aren’t trying to feel good.
Enjoyment is your willingness to experience your world in a subtle way that lets you engage with your self and the world around you — with sensitivity, intelligence, and awareness, moment by moment.
But does this mean that you are to just passively notice the subtle details of the world around you, and that you will get delight from that only? The experience of this sensory meditation was just to help you clear your mind, and engage with your senses on a deeper level. There is more to this process, because now you are going to explore another meditation that brings your inner voice to this experience.
Although your inner voice is often the part of you that automatically comments on everything, you have other options when you use your inner voice consciously. When you do this, then your inner voice becomes part of a healthy feedback loop that unites body, mind, and environment, in support of your well-being.
Meditation for using your conscious voice to cultivate enjoyment in this moment:
1. Look at any object in your immediate environment.
2. Notice the shape — the color — the texture — and the general vibe or aura.
3. Experience this object without labeling or judging what you are looking at.
4. As you feel the presence of that object, sense or imagine its inner light or presence.
5. Now notice your own inner light or presence — imagine it if you like.
6. Notice or imagine a healthy resonance between your inner light, and the inner light of that object.
7. As you sense this subtle resonance, say:
- I support this object’s right to exist, and this object supports my right to exist.
- I find something fascinating in this object, and this object finds something fascinating in me.
- I enjoy this object, and this object enjoys my presence.
- I bless this object, and this object blesses me.
8. As you say each statement, really sense or imagine the harmony between your inner self, and the inner intelligence within that object. This is possible whether the object seems to be an ordinary chair, a computer printer, or a clock. Or perhaps you are experiencing an exotic rare goldfish in a tank, or a fragrant Hawaiian flower. No matter; they are all living expressions of the universe.
9. Quietly notice the subtle characteristics of other objects in the room.
10. As you notice these qualities, let your inner rapport with those objects resonate. Don’t try to make it happen; rather, you let it happen.
11. Discover how easily you can make those blessing statements with the other objects in the room. The inner light within you is sharing and communicating, at a level beyond words, with the inner light of those objects.
Are these methods the one way to enjoy the moment? Actually there is no one particular way. There are many ways of learning to be present, but they have something in common. Any hope you have of bringing enjoyment to the present moment requires your relaxed, yet focused attention.
Talking with objects in your home or office might seem a little silly, but you are discovering the basic principle here. Enjoyment is engagement with the moment. It is participation between your conscious mind and your subtle senses. When you bridge the inner and outer self with your environment, you create an intelligent, living flow that has depth and meaning.
Does this mean that you can’t have critical thoughts? Not at all — your critical thoughts can lead to helpful solutions.
Does this mean that you have to be in a special mood or special place to practice this? At first, you may well want to explore these meditations in your own quiet environment. But consider the fascinating options available to you — the potential for subtle and enjoyable experiences exists even where you least expect to find it.
When you discover how to place your attention, and how to extend blessings to even the most mundane things in the world, then you enter the charmed world that you have been waiting for. It is the place where you can be with the world as it is, and help co-create a spiritualized world at the same time. This is not a fantasy, because consciousness is the essence of everything in the universe.
Being in this world
There is a sense that many modern people have — that they are separate from reality, or not in their real spiritual home. These feelings and thoughts may come from their lack of engagement with their environment. Honestly, many environments are challenged, and so these meditations are more easily done in some places than in others. But that doesn’t mean that the meditation can only be accomplished in a special place. In fact, maybe these meditations can do the most good in those challenged environments that are really calling for healing and harmony.
Is it possible that the lack of engagement with the world around you could relate to how you have been treating yourself? What may seem, at first, to be an irrelevant activity — tuning into the subtle energy of your environment — is actually a profound exploration in tuning into the essential nature of reality. And when you choose to bless or appreciate that subtle world around you, you are creating a deep harmony experience that uplifts you, your environment, and everyone it your world.
Every time you tune into the subtle energy of your world, it helps heal you within, because that subtle engagement with reality automatically extends to you, too. You benefit from your deeper awareness experiences, because you are learning how to bless yourself, as well.
The true location of harmony
Perhaps you had supposed that enjoyment had to be a stereotype. Maybe you’re surprised that what started as an exploration of enjoying the moment turned into a spiritual discovery session about the nature of reality. But it does make sense, because your life is an expression of a divine creative force that created your soul, and that manifested this universe. These subtle explorations reunite you with the universal consciousness that you are made of, and that everything, whether grand or mundane, is also made of.
The eternal harmony that you can discover within yourself, and within your world, is always there for you. But, being a subtle expression of universal consciousness, it speaks the language of subtlety, and not the dramatic language of fake happiness. Any amount of ceremony, noise, drunken antics, or loud demonstrations of happiness are all taking place on the surface. Deep within, enjoyment awaits you.
You can enjoy this moment when you are no longer trying to do so. It happens when your subtle senses are engaged, and you discover the resonance that harmoniously exists at a deeper level. Let yourself sense it, in your own way. This is your personally meaningful experience. It is the fulfillment and happiness that doesn’t look like what people expect fulfillment and happiness to look like.
So have your fascinating experiences, without waiting for approval and understanding. Just experience, sense the gentle smile appearing within you, and breathe this emerging delight into your being.
Joel Bruce Wallach
Founder, Cosmic-Living for spiritual empowerment — tele-classes and self-paced mp3’s