Please Look Inside.

This will change your life. Whoever steps away from this without grasping that – I have failed you. But, I hope I budge some part of you, even an inch.

Whether it’s this, a Kandinsky painting, a time of crisis, a walk in nature, a monastery in Tibet, or staring into your oatmeal tomorrow morning, I wish something helps you discover this.

The Greatest Overlooked Treasure in Human Experience

I will get to the “greatest treasure” as quickly as possible. First, some context: Where does suffering come from?

In exploring this question, it’s only a matter of time until this cliché lands at our feet:

“Expectations are the cause of all suffering.”

The Tyranny of Expectations

Right right. Heard this before. What does this MEAN, though?

Charmed by the Future

Undeniably, we always seem tangled up in our imaginations about what the future is supposed to look like. Whether it’s uber eats showing up in 5 minutes, a vacation we are supposed to go on six months from now, or how we imagine an evening with a friend is suppose to go, and how they will behave. If any of these things don’t go according to expectations, we’ll experience varying degrees of surprise and devastation.

Fixation on the Past

Ruminating about past events…

“Why did I do that? I’m such an idiot.”

“Why did this person treat me that way? I feel so bad for myself.”

Of course, it is inevitable the movie reel of past events will play in our minds. Where it gets unproductive, however, is when we layer-on expectations about what SHOULD have unfolded. The past will never change. The only thing we accomplish reinforcing unmet expectations is regret and sadness.

Enter: Mindfulness

Where the hell do these expectations come from?

You might be tempted to say, well, I thought of them of course, and end it there. A blunt retort: “you” are NOT your thoughts!

Consider for a moment, that big brain of yours, it evolved to predict the future and learn from the past. Its job is to say “hey, consider this”, thousands of times per day. And most of the time, we run with it… without even questioning it.

It’s not to say these suggestions are good or bad. Merely that the brain does this by itself. Just as you don’t think about breathing, and you don’t think about pumping your heart. Here too, that mysterious brain presents thoughts and expectations BY ITSELF. You are merely the observer. If you’re interested in some compelling (and spooky) neuroscience behind this, see here.

Enter, the greatest treasure, Mindfulness. Mindfulness reveals, once and for all:

You are not your thoughts. You do NOT have to accept any of the brain’s suggestions.

(Sigh. I know, so many will read this, and it’s not going to sink in. Like I said, I’m sorry, I hope it plants a seed.)

One more time for effect, just in case.

You are not your thoughts. You do NOT have to accept any of the brain’s suggestions.

The Implications of Observing, Indifferently

How cute and equanimous is this image? Well, besides that, it alludes to the same exact treasure being discussed here. The ability to step-back in your mind, and watch your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, flow right by, without being carried away by them… as if you were this content fellow sitting on the river bank. It’s an absolute superpower.

This does not miraculously delete unhealthy expectations from your mind. Expectations and emotions never disappear, rather, you are meaningfully changing your awareness-of and relationship with them. It takes time, and practice, but no more time spent than the act of brushing your teeth! The treasure is absolutely enormous, relative to the small investment. And unlike brushing teeth, this is pleasant!

Envision: calmness, grounded-ness, and sublime appreciation for life as it is, even when it doesn’t go according to our predictions. This is about as cloud 9 as one can get, using only the power of your attention. And these are just the early benefits of a mindfulness practice. There are more.

How Is It So Many People Miss This?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this. Having experienced enormous transformation myself, which continues positively evolving three years later, I say, wow – how is this not more widely understood in the world?

On the positive side, I am happy to see mindfulness resources and practices are becoming more public. Even so, it seems we have a long way to go.

I get it. Sitting quietly by yourself. Paying attention to your breath. Understanding the nature of existence. These things sound like an abstract waste of time that only fetters “more important things”. Yet, this is exactly the dead irony: this is WAY more important than just about anything else, if you care about a high quality life with healthy perspective. This is the the doorway.

Start Here

It only takes a few minutes to see what this is about. After that, only a few more minutes to actually experiment with the practice for the first time! I sincerely hope you proceed.

P.S. The Deeper End…

Everything important is already stated above. This is a small footnote.

There is an additional, more radical aspect to this. Consider statements such as, “The self is an illusion”, or “There is no free will”. I’m not suggesting anyone needs to be concerned with these things. But to the extent one is interested, there are roads that lead from mindfulness to here, and beyond. And this is where things get really interesting. (In my humble opinion)

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