Happiness Starts with a Spark

by: Dr. Linda Miles

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Do not seek perfection in a changing world. Instead perfect your love.
—Master Sengstan

Charlotte, a fifty-year-old housewife recovering from anxiety, described how good it felt to get a big whiff of the grass in her yard. Like many people who experience anxiety or panic, Charlotte could not enjoy the world around her. She often focused on fearful thoughts, which made things seem worse than they really were.

Small problems became huge and out of proportion to reality. The day when a small thing, like enjoying the smell of fresh cut grass, made the world real, she felt happy. Charlotte had begun to learn how to quiet the beehive in her head and live in the present. She became aware that she had stopped smelling the grass as a teenager when she had her first bout with anxiety. Charlotte's life changed as she learned to become aware of her surroundings and live in the present moment, and began to appreciate the small things in her life. She began taking yoga, listening to calm music, and learning meditation.

When she enjoyed the smell of freshly mowed grass, she knew she was getting better. She was able to shift her focus away from fear and self-doubt to reaching out to the world around her. Her inner world was filled with toxic gas made of past mistakes and future fears.

As Charlotte learned to remain centered in the present moment much of the time, she was able to reconnect with her husband. She needed internal freedom in order to move from ego to essence. "Feeling that we are continually falling short is like a toxic gas we breathe, making it difficult to be truly intimate with others and at home in our body, mind
and heart" (Tara Brach).

Awareness practice allows you to focus on the present moment and fully experience what is happening in your life. Dr. Fritz Perls referred to this as "getting out of your mind and into your senses." Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they walk around in a state of fear and, therefore, live in the past or future. It is difficult to maintain a well-being if you are not able to experience the present.
You need a practice that helps you stay peaceful and centered so you can travel away from the rooms in your mind that are filled with toxic fumes of guilt and fear.

Begin a practice of awareness. Focus your attention on simple everyday things and become fully present. Most minds do not live in the present. Most minds abruptly turn
and undermine the chance of humming. (Rumi) Keep focusing your mind on the humming of life around you and away from conditioned reactions. If you train your mind to tune into the hum of life, you tune out the beehive of negative thoughts. Hum the song of your soul.
When you develop a deliberate practice, you can smell, touch, and really experience the moment.

In the depth of winter I finally learned there was within me an
invincible summer. (Albert Camus)

Your Turn
Take a moment and look around your house or yard. What draws your attention? Focus on an object or person. Look at it as you never have before, look for details, and ask yourself what you really see. For example, you may see a plant and allow your consciousness to focus on the color
green and the lustrous leaves or their shapes. See what you see, hear what you hear, smell what you smell, and touch what you touch. Bring your awareness into your senses.
Try a walking practice for a few minutes, allowing your attention to remain focused on the experience of nature around you. Your mind may wander, but that is OK. Redirect your attention to what you see, hear, feel, touch. A practice of awareness is like training a puppy. You keep bringing your attention back from distractions. You notice a wandering thought then redirect attention through your senses. Train your brain to relax and enjoy the world around you. You will find that this focus brings a deeper experience of the moment, and these moments build into a practice of awareness. You might also want to repeat a phrase such as "Be calm." Say the word "be" as you breathe in and "calm" as you breathe out. Replace your beehive brain with the peace of mind that comes with surrendering to the moment.

How can you be more aware of the touch, smell, looks, and feelings that you have when you are with your partner? Think about how you could increase awareness as a couple. By developing your senses for things around you in the natural world, your senses can expand toward feelings
for yourself and others in the present moment. Feelings of acceptance and well-being expand when you learn to calm yourself, live in the present moment, and accept faults in yourself and others.

Dr. Linda Miles
Miles and Associates
800 Cinnamon Beach Way # 722
Palm Coast, Florida 32137
386 446 9291


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